How to increase your libido
Your libido—your sex drive—normally fluctuates over time. Everything from daily stress to hormone fluctuations can affect it. Age can be a factor, too, but people can maintain healthy sex drives well into their elderly years. If you'd like to increase your libido, try any (or all!) of these 10 simple methods.
An Important Note
Although sex drives naturally change and fluctuate over time, it can be helpful to rule out any medical causes of low libido. If you are experiencing any health issues, including a sudden or drastic change in your sex drive, please seek the help of a medical professional.
It's hard to feel sexual when you're feeling anxious, and that translates clinically. In fact, anxiety has been proven to worsen sexual dysfunction.1 There are many different types of anxiety disorders, and they impact the people who deal with them in a variety of ways. Ways to manage anxiety include different forms of therapy, taking anti-anxiety medications, or natural modalities like meditation.
If you deal with anxiety and also are feeling anxious about sexuality, that can feel like a double-edged sword that impacts your libido even further. In this instance, managing your anxiety at large should help regardless.
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Depression can have a negative effect on libido like anxiety can. When people are depressed, sexual dysfunction is common.2 Equally so, when depression is treated, sexual function and desire tend to improve. Like anxiety, you can treat depression with therapy, medications, and/or natural healing methods.
If you are experiencing low libido caused by your depression medication, that may be particularly frustrating. You may want to speak to your doctor about managing your depression differently if the lack of libido makes you feel more depressed.
Improve Sleep Quality
A good night's sleep is key to a good day. Sleep disorders are associated with many different health problems, including low libido and sexual dysfunction.3 If you have a serious sleep condition, speak with your doctor about potential treatments for it. If you have a milder problem, such as occasionally dealing with insomnia, or you experience racing thoughts when you try to sleep, you can try methods to improve your sleep habits.
Try Effective Natural Remedies
Studies have shown that some natural remedies promising to increase libido have risks that outweigh their benefits, while others are effective and don't tend to come with side effects.4
There are several different natural herbs and adaptogens (i.e., substances that have been shown to alleviate depression and tiredness)5 that have been shown to improve everything from libido to virility and fertility. Some of the most popular include maca, ginseng, and ginko biloba.
The Peruvian root known as maca is one of the most well-studied aphrodisiac herbs. Still, research is more preliminary since the supplement industry is not as funded as the pharmaceutical industry.6
You can find maca in powdered form to add to smoothies, or you can take it in pill form. You can also make maca-infused drinks to boost your arousal.
Another herbal root, ginseng, has been shown to positively impact libido and sexual function.7
One type of ginseng, known as Korean Red Ginseng, has been shown to be specifically effective at improving the sex drives of menopausal women.8 Ginseng is available dried as a powder or pill and is commonly used fresh in Korean foods.
Ginkgo biloba is an herb that is used as an extract. Gingko Biloba Extract (GBE) is used for the physical side of low libido; it can increase sex drive because of its effect on blood flow. Specifically, GBE increases blood flow to the genital area. It has been shown to increase sexual desire and satisfaction.9
As an extract, GBE is available as a tincture or in an encapsulated liquid format.
There is no shortage of the benefits our bodies reap by being physically active, but you can add improved sex drive to the already-long list of exercise's rewards.
Exercise has been proven to increase libido.10 There are numerous ways that physical activity serves to improve sex drive, and they include positive body self-image, improved cardiovascular health and mood, increased sympathetic nervous system activity, and improvement of one's endocrine system.
Just like how any forms of exercise are better than none, there are no rules about what fitness-increasing activities one should try if they are exercising for the sake of improving their sex drive.
Do what you enjoy most, as that's what you'll do the best job of sticking with, and enhanced libido will be just one of the many health-promoting benefits.
Eat Libido-Enhancing Foods
While there is no magic bullet food that will instantaneously increase your sex drive, there is plenty of truth behind the idea of aphrodisiac foods. These foods are more centered around getting you key nutrients and in good qualities than magically "pushing your buttons" to want to be sexual.11
Some types of foods that are good for libidos include:
Zinc-rich foods, which regulate testosterone and stamina, such as oysters, red meat, and pine nuts
Stamina and circulation boosters like fresh produce, whole grains, and legumes
High flavonoid foods that help prevent sexual dysfunction, such as citrus, peppers, tea, and cocoa
Limit Libido-Lowering Foods
Foods that can improve your sex drive are known as aphrodisiacs, and foods that can reduce it further are called anaphrodisiacs. Similar to how aphrodisiac foods can't magically put you in the mood for sex, anaphrodisiac foods are equally unlikely to take you right out of that mood.
But, in the opposite vein, as aphrodisiac foods offer nutrients that improve sexual function, anaphrodisiac foods have nutrients or attributes that can decrease your sexual health. Those foods include:
High saturated fats, as found in fried foods, lead to clogged arteries and reduced blood flow
Soy, which can increase estrogen
Polyunsaturated fats, such as vegetable oil, can reduce testosterone levels
High sodium, which increases blood pressure
Foods that require insulin to process, such as white flour and sugar, can reduce testosterone levels12
Work on Your Relationship
The longer you're in a relationship, the more common it is to feel that the sexual chemistry between you and your partner or partners has dissipated. Not feeling as sexual or excited about your partner may prove difficult to get into the mood to be intimate with them.
This can be resolved by working on your relationship together. You can try sex therapy together, couples therapy, scheduling date nights, going on vacation together, or performing more intentional touching together. The better your relationship feels to you emotionally, the more likely you are to want to be intimate with your partner.
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Practice Body Neutrality
Sometimes people experience low sex drive because they aren't feeling comfortable in their bodies. One way to deal with this difficulty effectively is to practice body neutrality. It's the idea of accepting your body as it is, without trying to love it when that doesn't feel possible, and for being grateful for the functions that it can perform.
Body neutrality can be practiced in many different ways, ranging from how you select the clothes you wear to how you choose the foods you eat. In addition, it has many mental health benefits, some of which, like lowering stress, naturally improve sex drive.
Limit Alcohol and Other Substances
It should come as no surprise that alcohol and recreational drugs can have a negative impact on your sex drive. While alcohol may feel like a libido enhancer in the moment, it's actually a depressant so the initial boost in your desire for sex is just temporary.
Alcohol can have a negative impact on parts of your body that are important for sexual function and drive, from blood flow to organ function. If you experience an increase in libido from drinking, do your best to keep your intake to a single glass of wine or cocktail. More is not better when it comes to alcohol and sexual function.
Recreational drugs, such as cocaine, may make you feel very good in the moment. They may also give you the sense of having a higher sex drive in the moment, as well. However, because of how drugs can zap your feel-good chemicals, flooding your body with them then leaving you depleted afterward. So, they do far more harm than good in this realm.
Recreational drug usage should be limited in general for people, but if you are experiencing a low sex drive, that is all the more reason to avoid them.