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There was once a time when you were ready to hop into bed the second someone said the word “sex”. Now? It seems your sex drive has just…vanished. Poof. The horny guy that used to be you, gone. While it may be a bit alarming, don’t freak out. Low libido affects everyone now and again, and there’s usually a logical (and easy-to-fix) reason your mojo is dwindling—it just may not be obvious to you.
To help you pinpoint what’s wreaking havoc on your sex drive, we talked to a relationship expert, dug through medical journals, and compiled this list of the most common (yet surprising) things sabotaging your bedroom game. Read on to find out if one of them is to blame for your lack of desire and discover how to get it back—stat.
When you’re consistently working out, you just feel better about your body. When you’re playing hooky it can have the opposite effect—even if you have totally legit reasons for bailing on your gym sessions. “Your body image has a huge effect on how you feel and act sexually,” says Terri Orbuch, Ph.D., relationship expert and author of 5 Simple Steps to Take Your Marriage From Good to Great. “When you feel invigorated from your workouts and confident with your body, you’re more likely to initiate and enjoy sex with a partner.”
It may seem hard to believe, but the best way to get in the mood before your next date has nothing to do with your Pornhub account. Ditch your late night, ahem, movie habit and clock some extra time with your pillow instead. A study funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute found that sleep deprivation can actually lower levels of the sex drive hormone, testosterone, by up to 15%. Testosterone is also vital to increasing strength, muscle mass, and bone density—all the more reason to aim for seven and a half hours of shut-eye per evening.
Strange but true: Your fast food habit may be to blame for your nonexistent sex life. (And no, it’s not because your apartment reeks of the stuff.) Not only can the excess fat and salt in greasy grub diminish blood flow, making it more difficult for you to stand at attention, it can also leave you feeling bloated and dehydrated—two things that don’t make anyone feel like stripping down. There’s more: Drive thru nuggets and patties are riddled with phthalates, a chemical used to make conveyer belts and other pieces of equipment in food factories, says a recent report. Why’s that matter? A study of women found a connection between phthalate metabolite concentrations and lack of sexual interest. If a woman’s sex drive is negatively affected by the chemical it’s not such a huge leap to assume men may experience similar effects, too. Play it safe by breaking up with Ronald and saying “see ya later” to Wendy.
That super-stressful work project isn’t just giving you insomnia and zapping your appetite, it could be killing your sex drive, too, says Orbuch. “Chronic stress can affect your desire to have sex because your thoughts and energy are caught up in whatever is weighing on you.” If you’re constantly feeling under pressure, Orbuch suggests keeping a stress journal for a couple of weeks to help you pinpoint the main source of worry in your life. “Jot down where you are and what you’re doing when you feel extremely anxious. Notice how these situations and your reaction to each one affects your sex drive. Then, find a stress-reduction technique that works well for you—whether it be hitting the gym, taking a yoga class, or watching TV— and do it once a day. Also, surround yourself with people who care about you, rather than facing the anxiety alone. It may not be easy, but it can help to talk about how you’re feeling with others.”
It may be legal in your home state, but that doesn’t mean you should smoke it. Not only have researchers discovered a connection between marijuana and decreased cognitive function, the drug has also been shown to lower testosterone levels—and not just right after you light up. The effects can last up to 24 hours, according to a Journal of Theoretical Biology report. Since sex drive is directly connected to testosterone production, kicking reefer to the curb may add some fire back into your love life.
You know that eating too many sweets is bad for your smile and your six-pack, but did you realize that sugar can put a damper on your sex life, too? When you eat too many sweets—weather it’s cookies or flavored coffee drinks—your cells get overfilled with glucose. And according to Mayo Clinic experts, any glucose that your cells don’t use accumulates as fat, which contains aromatase, an enzyme that converts testosterone into estrogen. This can lower your libido and also increase your risk for erectile dysfunction. Scaling back on the sugar may be just the solution for your sexual slump. Be sure to read labels carefully—the sweet stuff is often lurking where you least expect it.
If you and your lady are both consumed with your laptops and iPhone 24/7, you’re not truly connecting or able to enjoy one another’s company. This can strain the relationship and cause you to become disinterested in sex, explains Orbuch. Plus, it’s hard to get in the mood when seconds earlier one of you could have been sending a work email or ‘liking’ a photo of your mom. “If you suspect that technology is killing your sex life, ditch your gadgets for one evening and see what happens. Spend time with your partner talking, cuddling, playing games, or walking around your neighborhood—do anything you both enjoy that allows you to connect and bond,” suggests Orbuch.
Still pissed about something your girlfriend did last time she went out with you and your buddies? It may subconsciously make you less attracted to her in the bedroom, says Orbuch. “When you have unresolved anger toward your partner or unresolved anger toward others, it doesn’t allow you to be fully present in the moment, which is necessary to maintain a healthy sex drive and achieve sexual satisfaction,” says Orbuch. The solution: Stop sweeping things under the rug and tell your girl (or that prick from work) what’s eating you. Yes, it may lead to a tiff, but often that’s the perfect catalyst for a steamy romp—and hotter sex in the future, too.
Before you decide to hunt down a pill to up your libido, take a look at what’s currently in your medicine cabinet. “Certain medications and medical illness (such as diabetes and thyroid dysfunctions) can affect your interest in sex,” Orbuch tells us. But don’t just stop taking your meds if you think they’re to blame. “If you’re currently taking medications, ask your M.D. if any of them might be affecting your sex drive. And if you’re not taking anything, make an appointment for a complete physical to help identify and rectify any underlying physical causes of your dwindling drive.”
Having a drink or two will likely get you in the mood. But have any more than that and you’ll probably just feel full, bloated, sleepy, and not all that interested in sex, explains Orbuch. Not to mention, if you are still in the mood, despite indulging in excessive libations, you may not be able to, er, get your mast up or achieve orgasm. Stick to two drinks max if you want to be in the mood and ready to go later in the evening.