Tried and tested expert tips to increase your sexual desire.
By Karen Gordon
Has your sex drive taken a nose dive? It’s perfectly normal to experience dips in your libido from time to time. Lack of sleep, fluctuating hormones, stress, exhaustion and physical or emotional health can all impact sexual desire.
Many of us struggle with being too tired for sex or simply have days when our desire is on the down low. But if your floundering sex drive is starting to impact your relationship, it might be time to take action. Here are eight tried and tested ways to get your sexy back:
- Focus on pleasure, not penetration
Pleasure doesn’t always have to mean (or lead to) penetrative sex, says Petra Boyntonsocial psychologist, sex researcher and agony aunt at The Telegraph. There may be times when you don’t really feel like having sex – but it’s important to focus on the things that you do find pleasurable.
‘This may be kissing, lying in bed naked together or even giving or receiving oral sex,’ says Boynton. ‘And it doesn’t necessarily have to be sexual: cook a meal together, sit on the sofa having a cuddle – whatever it is you like doing.’
- Why you should try sex toys
Accessories can add a whole new dimension to your relationship and are a great way to spice things up and add variety to the bedroom.
‘My advice is to start small and work your way up,’ says Knight. ‘Slimmer vibrators are perfect for those new to sex toys and ones with rabbit ears provide dual stimulation of both the clitoris and the G-spot,’ she adds.
Not sure where to start? Knight recommends the Jessica Rabbit Slimline, or the Magic Wand. ‘Wand massagers are one of the fastest growing sex toy categories, rivalling traditional vibrators in popularity,’ says Knight. ‘They give powerful vibrations and many women report more intense orgasms using them.’
- Keep your sex life fresh
If you’re in long-term relationship and passion has started to wane, you may find you need to be a little more creative when it comes to love making.
‘Sex can stagnate in long-term relationships,’ says sexpert Annabelle Knight. ‘You may end up doing the same routine month after month – around seven minutes, twice a week, in the same position. You have to work at sex with your partner to keep things fresh.’
Knight recommends doing something special once a week to take on the mindset you had when you were first dating.
‘Try anything just as long as you’re both comfortable with it. Here’s one activity that can be a lot of fun: sucking your partners’ toes. Most people will cringe at it, but once you get past the initial idea it can be a highly sexual experience because your feet are an erogenous zone.’
- Use sexual fantasy to your advantage
Sexual fantasy is an excellent way to key into your unlocked desires. ‘A lot of people feel that the only way they should experience desire is from their partner,’ says Boynton. ‘And it’s somehow dishonest or disloyal if you’re relying on a fantasy or masturbating before you go to bed to feel more aroused. If this increases your desire and you enjoy it, do it!’
If you need more prompting, Knight recommends reading some erotic literature to get you in the mood. ‘I’ve always been a huge fan of erotic books, and the stories are not only for entertainment, they can also give you some great ideas for what you and your other half can get up to.’
- Factor fats and zinc into your diet
Great sex isn’t all about leaping around the bedroom. Nutrition is crucial when it comes to maintaining a healthy sex drive.
‘Good fats (unsaturated fats), for example oily fish, nuts and seeds, are important for boosting libido because sex hormones (such as testosterone) are manufactured from these foods,’ says nutritionist Marilyn Glenville. ‘Also, fats will help to keep tissues like the vagina lubricated and soft.’
Oysters contain zinc, which is essential for the production of sex hormones, hence the old wives’ tale of using oysters as an aphrodisiac. ‘Good quality protein is important as it contains L-arginine, an amino acid that’s needed by the body to make nitric oxide, a compound that helps blood circulation in those areas, which are important for a healthy sex life,’ says Glenville.
- Don’t judge yourself
It’s important to remember that there’s no right amount of sex that you should be having, whether you want it twice a day or once a month.
‘Remind yourself that most of us are not having orgasmic sex all the time,’ says Boynton. ‘It doesn’t matter how often you do it, but if you like it. If it’s not bothering you or your partner, then it’s not a problem.’
Sex and relationship expert Tracey Cox agrees that very few individuals have consistently great sex. ‘Most of us bumble through with a mix of outrageously grand sessions, ordinary shags and the odd highly embarrassing incident (or twelve),’ says Cox.
‘Even couples who rate their sex life as fantastic admit only two to three sessions out of every 10 are sheet-grabbing material. Push yourselves when things are good, but be kind and forgiving when things aren’t.’
- Take up yoga
A 2009 study in The Journal of Sexual Medicine found that yoga improves sexual desire, arousal, orgasm and overall satisfaction. Yoga teacher and founder of Fierce Grace Michele Pernetta, says that feeling healthy, strong, flexible and confident are all major factors when it comes to sexual arousal.
‘Yoga affects us physically, by balancing hormones and increasing circulation to the sex organs,’ says Pernetta. ‘But it also opens us up emotionally, reduces stress, fatigue and increases our sense of wellbeing and confidence, which directly benefit our desire for intimacy and sex.’
- Speak to your GP
‘In general, not wanting sex, doesn’t mean there is anything weird, abnormal or wrong with you,’ says Boynton. But if you’re concerned that low sexual desire is connected to a physical or emotional issue, speak to your GP.