If your time in bed with your partner isn’t all you’d like it to be, it might be worth considering some new ways to reinvigorate things.
Having a date night with your partner – to remind yourself of all the reasons you adore each other and to relax by being wined and dined – can be great ways to stimulate your libido, says Anita Sadaty, MD, a holistic gynecologist in Roslyn, New York.
Medical Reasons May Be Behind Sexual Problems or Disinterest
Of course, there may be a medical reason why your sex life is flagging. Diabetes, thyroid issues, cancer, and cardiac problems can lower sexual desire. Nerve issues, endometriosis, or other problems can cause sex to be painful for women. And certain medications – like some for blood pressure, depression, anxiety, and even birth control – may inhibit desire.
That’s why it’s important to get a medical checkup if you are experiencing symptoms that affect your sex life and get your condition properly treated. You can also ask your doctor if it’s possible to switch your medication to something without a sexual side effect.
1. Make Getting in the Mood for Sex a Priority
Sometimes, having more and better sex simply requires clearing your schedule. “It’s hard to be in the mood when you have a million things on your to-do list and not much time to do it,” Dr. Sadaty says.
Scheduling sex might sound unromantic , but you put most of your important plans in your calendar, so why not sex? It’s best to schedule enough time to do something relaxing first rather than hopping straight into bed, since women, especially, need to be relaxed before their libido kicks in, Sadaty says.
2. Work on Your Mind and Notice Your Thoughts for Better Sex
If your brain is running a feedback loop of reasons you’ve picked up along the way – about how you should feel guilty about sex or maybe that your body is too fat or ugly or, well, whatever – it’s time to stop it in its tracks. Recognize the thought when it appears and change it to a more helpful one.
This helps your sex life because, as a meta-analysis found, people with more open attitudes about sex are better able to explore their sexuality without guilt. (1)
3. Don’t Forget to Use Lubricants for Better Sex
Sex can be more pleasurable if you add a lubricant, which cuts down on friction and irritation and, therefore, discomfort, gynecologists say. You can buy lubricant from the drugstore or use a household oil like coconut oil. (Be sure to use a nonlatex condom if you DIY, because these oils can damage latex.)
Don’t try to hide your need for a lubricant from your partner. Make it part of your sexual routine and have fun with it.
4. Move Your Body to Improve Your Sex Life
You may not think that the exercise you do for your heart and muscles is important for good sex, but remember that blood flows to your genitals as much as to your heart.
Men with erectile dysfunction (ED), for example, can sometimes reverse this problem with a healthy lifestyle that includes exercise, according to a study. (2) Even in men requiring ED medication, healthy lifestyle changes likely add to the benefits, the researchers found.
5. Get Enough Sleep for Good Sex
Sleep is another lifestyle factor that impacts libido. One reason is that hormone secretion is controlled by the body’s internal clock, and sleep patterns likely help the body determine when to release certain hormones related to sex.
For both men and women, feeling tired when you get into bed zaps whatever libido you may have had even moments earlier.
Plus, for men, getting enough sleep can boost the level of testosterone (a lower level can be associated with sexual dysfunction) . (3)
6. Practice Mindfulness – and Yoga – for Better Sex
It may seem like sex is the ultimate practice of mindfulness. And while orgasm pretty much is – likely no one has made their grocery list or planned a work report in that moment – you may become distracted by random thoughts in the time leading up to that orgasm.
Keeping your attention on what you’re doing and feeling is a powerful way to enhance your pleasure. In one study , women suffering from anxiety-related sexual dysfunction significantly boosted their sexual responsiveness after being trained in mindfulness. (4)
Similarly, the mind-body practice of yoga can aid your libido. When a group of 40 women were instructed to practice an hour of yoga each day, their average scores on a sexual function questionnaire for desire, arousal, lubrication, orgasm, lower pain, and overall satisfaction increased, according to another study. (5) The yoga postures they did were basic poses believed to improve pelvic muscle tone, release tight hip joints, and boost mood, followed by breathing exercises and relaxation techniques.
7. Consider Acupuncture Treatments to Improve Sex
The ancient Chinese practice of acupuncture, in which a practitioner strategically places needles in the body, can also enhance your sex life. Balancing and relaxing the body with acupuncture has long been used to boost libido, says Baljit Khamba, ND, a naturopathic doctor and an assistant professor of naturopathic medicine at Bastyr University California in San Diego.
Khamba coauthored a study in which 35 men and women with sexual dysfunction, likely caused by antidepressants they were taking, were treated with nine acupuncture sessions. At the end, libido had improved in women, while erection, timing of ejaculation, and ability to orgasm were enhanced in men. (6)
8. See What Some Herbs, aka Aphrodisiacs, Can Do for You
Some herbs are used by cultures around the world as aphrodisiacs. Some are believed to stimulate nerves in your genitals; others increase levels of nitric oxide, which increases blood flow to the genitals, and the feel-good chemicals in your brain.
Drugstores and health-food stores sometimes market products for sexual health that are a combination of herbs and supplements, including the amino acid L-arginine. A study of one of these products, ArginMax for Women, found that more than two-thirds of the women taking this product – which contains ginseng, ginkgo biloba, damiana, vitamins, minerals, and L-arginine – reported an increase in sexual desire and overall sexual satisfaction. (7)
9. Masturbate or Self-Stimulate for Better Sex
By experimenting on yourself, you can come to better know what satisfies you sexually – information you can then convey to your partner.
For women, masturbation may have other benefits as well. Vaginal dryness and pain may be reduced when you spend time stimulating yourself.
That’s why sex therapists often recommend masturbation as a tool for women having trouble reaching orgasm. You might want to add a vibrator for enhanced stimulation.