Low sex drive can be related to low levels of testosterone. And that doesn’t just affect men. In 2003, investigators found that boosting testosterone levels increased sexual desire in women who complained of low libido and reduced sexual arousal due to menopause. Women who took a low-dose estrogen-testosterone combination treatment reported a 100% improvement in sexual interest, compared with women treated with estrogen alone.
There are plenty of variables that can lower sexual desire in both men and women, and it’s perfectly natural to go through ebbs and flows in libido. But if you can’t put your finger on why you’re not feeling it for extended periods of time, you might want to look at your habits outside the bedroom.
Read on to discover how you might be unwittingly depressing your levels of testosterone — and sexual interest. And break your other bad habits with a few easy libido hacks.
You Aren’t Nourishing Your Libido
You’re Drinking Too Much And/or Too Often
Excessive or habitual drinking can have a negative effect on male and female sex drive. A glass of wine or a cocktail can get you in the mood, but drink much more than that regularly, and your libido will pay the price. Alcohol is a depressant that can play havoc with a man’s ability to achieve and maintain an erection and dampen libido in general. Slow down when it comes to drinking and you may find that you rediscover your sexual sparkle. To help do this, nutritionist Dana James suggests drinking a 2-to-1 ratio of water to alcoholic beverages.
You’re Sacrificing Sleep
Think back to those times when your libido has been in high gear. Was it during a period when you weren’t getting enough sleep? Probably not, according to several studies that have looked at the effect of sleep loss on sex drive. In men, a lack of quality sleep can reduce testosterone. Women, says Dr. Wider, can have difficulty engaging with their desire and reaching orgasm if they’re not getting enough recuperative rest.
You’re Not Relaxing Enough
Being stressed out is no fun — you’ve probably noticed that your fun parts take a break whenever things get crazy in your life. Chronic stress depresses testosterone, as evidenced by one study that associated increased job stress with decreased T levels in men. Your best move its to prioritize something that helps you de-stress. That could be massage, yoga, meditation, or deep breathing. Sex itself is a proven stress buster, so one you get back in the saddle, you could start a positive feedback loop.
You’re Not Masturbating
Experiencing physical pleasure can balance hormones. Having some me time — even if you have to muscle through at first — can really help prime the pump, as it were. According to the 2009 University of Michigan study, orgasm helps the body release oxytocin, the so called “love and bonding” hormone, which in turn lowers cortisol, a stress hormone that helps your body to store fat. A lack of oxytocin can also cause you to eat “comfort food,” which by and large, isn’t often healthy. Here’s another good reason to get down to it: A 2009 study demonstrated a connection between masturbation and a rise in women’s self-esteem.
Sugar is everywhere, so don’t think that you’re safe just because you don’t spoon it into your coffee. The sweet stuff increases levels of the hormone insulin, which can cause you to store belly fat, lose muscle mass and send your testosterone levels spiraling. In men, belly fat raises estrogen levels, which can result in low libido and erectile dysfunction; one study found that glucose (sugar) significantly reduced total and free testosterone levels. Making an effort to get rid of the sugar you consume — knowingly or otherwise — could be just what the love doctor ordered.