Help! I Have A Low Sex Drive!
If you’re experiencing a low-sex drive right now, you’re not alone. An American study in the journal Jama Network Open found that people are having less sex than ever before, and diminishing libidos are trending worldwide. Psychologist Jean Twenge, who studies Americans' sex lives, told Insider that multiple factors are driving the decline in sexual activity, and as a global pandemic drags on, its ramifications will continue to deflate our desire. Below are a few reasons why you may have lost your libido and some suggestions for how to get it back:
Reason #1: Pandemic Anxiety
According to experts, your dwindling libido is a typical response to chaos. Articles explaining our low sex drives during the pandemic often cite Terror Management Theory (TMT) as the source of our sexual woes. TMT explains that we subconsciously change our attitudes and behaviors in order to manage our fear of death, so if your sex drive tanked in response to the pandemic, that’s normal! It’s your body’s way of trying to protect you from your panic.
How To Get Your Groove Back: Take the focus off of your sex drive for a bit and concentrate on managing your anxiety. Journal about your worries. Practice meditation (or at least deep breathing) to help your body transition out of “fight-or-flight” mode. Make sure you’re staying hydrated and feeding yourself nourishing meals. Incorporate movement into your daily life. If you can, make that movement happen outside (according to researchers, spending time in nature reduces stress). Prioritize sleep. Maintain your friendships, even if that’s over the phone or via Zoom. Find a therapist if you don’t already have one (there are plenty of online options, especially now). Remove any unnecessary stressors in your life. Even if these practices don’t drag you all the way out of the low libido pit, they’ll contribute to your overall sense of well-being (and that can’t hurt!).
Reason #2: You’re Not Having Sex
I know this sounds like a Catch-22, but here me out: sexuality experts have stated time and time again that the more sex you have, the more sex your body craves. When you’re out of the practice of having sex or masturbating, your hormones shift and smother your sex drive. But with a little extra effort, you can get yourself in the mood.
How To Get Your Groove Back: Even people with partners can (and should!) masturbate. If you’re out of the habit, challenge yourself to make masturbation a daily routine, at least for a little while, even if you don’t feel like it. Whether you prefer to use your hands, a pillow, or a toy, masturbate without the goal of an orgasm -- just focus on how the sensations feel. Finding alone time and space to masturbate can be tricky, especially when many of us are quarantined with roommates, family members, and partners. Talk to your housemates about how to give each other regular alone time, and use that alone time wisely.
If you live with a partner, find new ways to experience intimacy together. Cuddle. Watch a movie together while you’re naked in bed. Try mutual masturbation. Schedule a weekly make-out date and put it in your calendar. If you’re not into the idea of being touched, are you comfortable pleasing your partner? Watching your sweetheart enjoy some sexual stimulation might rev up your dormant desire.
Reason #3: Hormonal Fluctuations
As I mentioned above, your hormones change when you’re not having sex, which can tank your libido. But hormonal fluctuations happen for all kinds of other reasons, too. You might be experiencing a hormonal shift if you're eating, sleeping, and exercise habits have changed. You might be experiencing menopause or hormonal changes related to an illness, birth control, or gender-affirming hormone replacement therapy. For folks with menstrual cycles, some symptoms of hormonal imbalance include irritability, vaginal dryness, fatigue, digestive issues, and irregular periods.
How To Get Your Groove Back: If you suspect you’re experiencing a hormonal imbalance due to changes in your daily habits, get back on track. Prioritize sleep. Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. Eat nourishing meals on a regular schedule. Incorporate gentle movement into your days. If you have (or suspect that you have) any illnesses that could affect hormone production or if you’re currently taking medication or birth control, consult a doctor. There could be an underlying condition or a side effect of your medication that’s affecting your hormonal balance.
Reason #4: Medication
Reduced libido is a common side effect of all kinds of medication, and SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) are the most commonly cited culprit. These drugs raise levels of serotonin in the body, which allows its users to experience a greater sense of stability and calm. But SSRIs also prevent the hormones that usually make us feel frisky from sending signals to our brains, leaving our libidos in the dust. SSRI use can lead to decreased interest in sex, decreased lubrication in uterus-owners, and fewer, less sustainable erections in folks with penises.
How To Get Your Groove Back: Never stop taking any medication you’re prescribed and never alter the dose without first consulting a doctor. Ending treatment any kind of medical treatment can wreak havoc on your body and on your mental health. Ask your doctor about switching medications, reducing your dose, or adding additional medications or practices that counteract your treatment’s side effects.
Reason #5: You’re Bored
Sexual boredom happens, especially in long-term relationships. Do you and your partner typically have the same kind of sex in the same positions? Have you been masturbating with the same toy for years? When sex is a snooze, it’s hard to be fully present for it, let alone enjoy it. Fortunately, it’s easy to breathe a little life in your time between the sheets.
How To Get Your Groove Back: Try something new! “Mixing it up” doesn’t have to involve elaborate costumes or wild, kinky fantasies (unless you want it to). Do you typically have sex in bed? Move your sexy time to the floor or the kitchen counter. Please your partner while you press them against the bedroom wall. Make out on the couch. Any change in scenery might spark your desire. Try a little role play. Show your partner some porn that you enjoy and ask to see something they enjoy. Masturbate with a new toy or use a new toy on your partner.
If you’re not bored with sex, you might just be bored with yourself. If you’re one of many people working from home right now, it’s easy to spend the day unshowered in your sweatpants, and when it’s not safe to get a haircut or get your nails done, you might start feeling a little “meh” about your appearance, causing your overall confidence to dwindle. But you have the power to make yourself feel desirable! Start putting on actual clothes in the morning. Learn how to cut and dye your own hair and try a new ‘do. Get dressed up for a sexy dinner date at home. When you’re feeling confident and embodied, you’ll be more likely to crave and initiate sex.