From food to fitness.
Maintaining an unwaveringly steady sex drive is about as unlikely as expecting the stock market or the weather to cease fluctuating. Our libido levels can change with the season, the day, the hour even—and that’s not to say those changes are cause for concern. Rather, they’re entirely natural. The world is rife with triggers that can readily diminish—or boost—your sex drive in the instant (or over far lengthier periods). So, if you’re concerned about feeling more or less flagrantly horny as time passes, it can help to know a bit more about the small, unexpected things that could be impacting your libido.
Of course, libido does have its obvious catalysts—things that fuel the fire, so to speak. Feeling physically attracted to a partner, watching porn, or, say, being in a particularly good mood can all be the sorts of things that bolster your sex life (in short and long-term ways). And on the flip side, new medications, hormonal changes, or a lack of sexual chemistry with a partner can certainly diminish libido. But beyond the basics, there are plenty of aspects of daily living that could be taking a substantial toll on your sex drive. Here are a few common triggers to watch out for:
Surely, you’ve heard of the mind-gut connection. But what about the libido-gut connection? Yeah, that’s right: What you eat can certainly harm (or help) your sex drive. Alongside your classic aphrodisiacs (oysters, dark chocolate, strawberries), there’s plenty else to consider—like whether or not you’re getting enough nutrients from your diet. If you’re not feeling sufficiently sated, odds are you’ll feel fatigued—and bodily fatigue is an easy way to dampen libido near instantly. Additionally, anything that causes nausea, indigestion, heartburn, or bloat can inhibit our desire to engage in any kind of sexual activity—or anything at all that involves nudity and horizontal exercise.
There’s probably a case to be made that “horny” is a mood of its own, but in reality, our emotional health has a huge impact on our libido. Whether we’re talking about clinical depression and anxiety, or something as simple as ennui after a bad day at work, our moods do take a major toll on our sex lives. Any form of the stress of frustration can be distracting (and thus, likely to get you…out of the zone), while dips in serotonin can be more direct “boner killers” so to speak.
Grief and Trauma
On a more serious note, coping with grief or trauma is often a dissociative experience—which means, for those of us confronting trauma or managing extreme sadness, disconnecting from our bodies can be a normal response. Naturally, while feeling disengaged from the physical realities of your body, a decreased interest in sexual pleasure comes in tow. Moreover, when it comes to trauma, sex activities can even feel triggering—which can make intimacy on the whole cause stress and sadness instead of stimulation.
In many ways, this one feels obvious. But according to experts, fatigue due to excessive exercise is a common trigger for a lacking sex drive—and often, it’s one that we forget to consider. When we’re depleted of energy, our bodies are looking to find ways to replenish—and further cardio doesn’t usually factor in. Some folks even posit that neglecting exercise will increase your sex drive since you’ll have an excess of restless energy to expend.
While it may seem more likely that a couple experiencing boredom would turn to sex as a form of amusement, studies have shown that too much sameness—like, for example, a period of quarantine amid a global pandemic—can lead us to deprioritize sex. In these instances, couples counselors will often recommend a vacation—or even a night spent in a hotel. Introducing some novelty and pointedly shifting your routine can be a way to reinvigorate that drive.
We all know that drinking leads to fatigue, a diminished capacity to experience pleasure, and for some, an inability to get it up. But for those of us who have built drinking into our daily routines, it can be easy to forget how it’s prohibiting sexual activity—so, if your sex drive is lacking, take stock of the ways your drinking habits might be involved.
Good ‘ol fashioned incompatibility
Sexual incompatibility is, indeed, a real thing. And if you’re experiencing it, likely, you’re not making things up. If you’re having consistent sex with a partner who isn’t particularly arousing for you, you’re likely to build a negative association with sex on the whole. It’s a bit like a Pavlovian response. Which is to say, on the flip side, if you’re having regular sex that feels notably exceptional to you, your libido will likely spike near instantly.