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What Might Be Killing Your Sex Drive
Not in the mood? Some of these libido-killers may be to blame.
The secret code of the female libido has been notoriously hard to crack. One of the biggest reasons is that sex drive in women can’t be boiled down to just getting one organ to do its job. Rather, experts believe a combination of factors influence libido, many of which are mental and emotional, not just physiological. Which makes it difficult to pinpoint why you can’t get in the mood. And it becomes more complicated when you consider that everyone’s “normal” sex drive varies greatly. It makes it hard to define what low sex drive even means.
Research has shown that for women, even though blood flow to the sex organs isn’t as important as it is for men to become aroused, nicotine is linked to a drop in libido.
To help you better understand what might be causing a shift from your personal normal, here’s a list of various sex drive saboteurs you should know about.
You’re skimping on sleep.
A study found that, for women, more sleep led to higher levels of sexual desire and better arousal the next day. In fact, just one more hour of sleep was linked to a 14% increase in the odds a woman would engage in sexual activity with a partner. Just another good reason to get some quality shut-eye every night.
You’re dealing with some relationship issues.
Problems within a relationship can make it tough for women to get in the mood. But the length of your relationship can also impact sex drive. Early in relationships, women have a spike in desire. But over time, that falling-in-love feeling softens. It’s normal, but it can make things feel more routine. You kind of just have to accept that it’s going to soften, but you can do things to kick it up. The theory is that a woman’s sexuality is connected to feeling wanted; being wanted is a turn on! For example, when you feel less ogled at, it can mess with your own level of desire.
You’ve been exposed to potential endocrine-disrupting chemicals.
Some types of phthalates, a class of chemicals found in plastic, personal care products, cleaning products, and even fast food, are suspected to be endocrine disruptors. Meaning, enough exposure may mess with your hormones and reduce testosterone levels. Lower testosterone means lower libido. One study showed that women who had more phthalates in their urine were two and a half times more likely to report libido problems. Whether or not phthalates have a major impact or not, indirectly, good nutrition and being healthy ultimately do make a difference in sexuality.
You’re taking certain medications that affect sex drive.
Some medications, like antidepressants, blood pressure meds, and some oral or transdermal birth controls, are known to mess with libido. More and more, gynos are switching to IUDs for that reason. If you’re taking any meds that list “decreased sex drive” as a side effect, go see your doctor to discuss other options that may not be as big of a buzzkill.
You recently had a baby, or are post-menopausal.
When it comes to hormonal factors – those not influenced by medications or environment – they’re really only proven to interfere post menopause or after giving birth. Within the first year after pregnancy, a woman’s sexual drive diminishes, for physiological reasons. Prolactin [a hormone that facilitates breast milk production is elevated postpartum, and that is directly related to a decrease in sexual drive. New moms may also feel less desire to get down if they’re simply exhausted from taking care of the new baby. Post menopause, women can receive hormone therapy to boost their drive to previous levels.
You tend to drink (a few) too many glasses of wine.
A few drinks may initially get you raring and ready to go, but imbibing too much can make your sex drive plummet. Alcohol may just make you pass out before the main event, or make you so tired your desire drops. Heavy drinking messes with the body in many serious ways, one of which is interfering with hormone regulation in the reproductive system. If you’re a heavy drinker, this can ultimately result in drop in libido.
You smoke cigarettes, or do other drugs.
Nicotine is a vasoconstrictor, which means it decreases blood flow throughout the body. Research has shown that for women, even though blood flow to the sex organs isn’t as important as it is for men to become aroused, nicotine is linked to a drop in libido. Note that using other drugs, like heroin (which is linked with inhibiting orgasm for both women and men), can have a negative impact on your sex drive.
You can’t remember what the inside of a gym looks like.
Exercise has been correlated with sexual drive. Study and speculation both suggest that since exercise helps us balance and stabilize physiological processes and hormones, that it can help with libido. There may also be a deeper psychological piece connected to confidence – physical activity can give you a serious self-esteem boost, which can translate to more confidence in bed.
Your stress levels are through the roof.
Stress pretty much ruins everything – your skin, your sleeping habits, and your sexy time. Stress makes you anxious, distracted, and throws hormones out of whack. Since stress affects sleep, it can also sabotage your sex life from that angle. When you’re frustrated about having a low sex drive, you may stress about that, too. Talk about a vicious cycle.