Nothing messes with Valentine’s Day romance like MIA mojo. If you’ve found yourself less and less interested in getting it on, you’ve probably already taken to Google with your frustrations—and come out even more confused.
There can be quite a few factors involved in low libido, so we asked the experts about the most common sex drive-killers—and how to bounce back between the sheets.
You’re Seriously Stressed
“In today’s day and age, we have many more stressors than we used to, says Christopher Asandra, M.D., the chief medical officer of NuMale and NuFemme, medical centers that specialize in sexual health and treating sexual dysfunction. “Plus, it’s harder to escape when we’re constantly being bombarded with texts and social media.” Chronic stress can put the kibosh on your sex drive, in addition to messing with your weight and sleep.
According to Asandra, stress causes your body to release the hormone cortisol, which can interfere with the hormones primarily responsible for your sex drive—testosterone and estrogen. It’s worth trying natural remedies before turning to meds, he recommends, noting that regular exercise, yoga, and meditation can help to relieve stress and may stabilize cortisol levels.
You’re On Antidepressants
Like stress, depression may also impact your sex drive—but certain antidepressants used to treat the condition can also decrease your sex drive as a side effect, says Asandra. Like with general stress, Asandra recommends establishing a workout routine or meditating if you take antidepressants. It’s also wise to speak to your therapist about the issues you’re having, as they may be able to recommend alternative options.
Your Relationship’s A Little Stale
“Oftentimes, I see couples that have been together for a long time, and need something extra to light that fire,” says Rachel Sussman, a New York-based therapist and relationship expert. If you and your partner are stuck in a sexual rut, don’t worry—you can bring the sexy back. Sussman suggests planning a romantic date night, and sending playful texts throughout the day leading up to the date. Plus, it never hurts to bust out the candles to set the mood.
You’ve Gained Some Weight
If you’ve packed on a few extra pounds recently, you may notice you’re not feeling up to having intercourse quite as frequently. “There is a clear connection between weight gain and reduced libido,” says Westin Childs, a doctor of osteopathic medicine in Arizona.
Why? A diet high in processed foods may leave you lacking vital nutrients, which can then affect your energy levels and mood, says Childs. Of course, losing weight is easier said than done, but eating a diet rich in unprocessed foods is a good place to start. Think fruits and veggies, whole grains, healthy proteins like chicken, and healthy fats like avocado.
You Have Diabetes
When you have type 2 diabetes, your body’s inability to properly use insulin leads to glucose (sugar) building up in your blood. But what exactly does that have to do with your sex drive? “The connection between insulin issues and low sex drive seems to be mediated by the lowered testosterone levels they often cause,” says Childs. Testosterone is important for both men’s and women’s sex drives.
Low testosterone may result in mood changes like irritability and depression, reduce desire for intercourse, prolong the time it takes to orgasm, and lead to weight gain over time, says Childs. For men, specifically, diabetes can cause nerve damage, which can lead to erectile dysfunction, he adds. According to the American Diabetes Association, some people may be able to control their diabetes through diet, exercise, and weight loss, but taking meds may be necessary if lifestyle changes don’t work.
You Tend to Overdo It On The Booze
We’re talking to you, guys. Excessive drinking can lead to a drop in desire, says Asandra. That’s because alcohol can decrease blood flow to the penis, making it difficult to form an erection. Now, that doesn’t mean you have to skip happy hour altogether. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines moderate drinking as up to two drinks a day for men. So, take it easy and drink plenty of H2O between beers to slow yourself down.
You Just Had a Baby
Your turn, ladies. When you’re up all hours of the night feeding and changing a crying tot, it makes sense that you’d be too exhausted to even think about a roll in the hay. But it’s not just that: After giving birth, your estrogen and progesterone levels drop, says Asandra, which can have a negative impact on your sex drive. (According to the Mayo Clinic, breastfeeding can also lower your estrogen, one of the hormones responsible for your libido.) The good news is that hormone levels should re-stabilize after a few weeks or months—so be patient, and try to get some sleep!
You’re Getting Older
Sure, birthdays are awesome—opening presents and eating cake will never not be fun. What’s not as cool? That your hormones fall off a cliff as you age.
For women, we’re talking about menopause, which, according to the North American Menopause Society, usually hits between ages 40 and 58. During menopause, production of estrogen, testosterone, and progesterone slow way down, says Asandra. (All three of hormones are needed to keep a woman’s sexual mojo thriving.) Hormone therapy—taking meds containing the female hormones the body has stopped making—is one treatment option, says Asandra.
Thought you were off the hook, guys? Not quite. There’s a reason why there are so many commercials for erectile dysfunction medications. While ED is most common in men over 70, it can happen to dudes as young as in their twenties, according to Johns Hopkins. “Think of the penis like any other muscle—if you don’t use it, you lose it,” says Asandra. The best way to treat ED is by stimulating blood flow to the area through something like platelet rich plasma injections, he says. (He assures it’s not as painful as it sounds.)