What happens when you and your partner go from sex being part of your normal routine to feeling like it’s a chore? If getting freaky in bed with your partner sounds like the last thing you want to do after a long day, you’re not insane. Many women deal low sex-drive, and women often say their sex-drive fluctuates with age, their menstrual cycle, and certain medications. But what if it seems like nothing is wrong but you still don’t really feel like it?
With men, low sex-drive is a little easier to pinpoint, and erectile dysfunction might seem like an obvious answer for men over 40. However, in women, it’s often an emotional stressor rather than something physically going wrong with them. If getting in the mood is hard for an unknown reason, here are a few things that might be secretly causing your libido to drop.
1. Lack of sleep
True exhaustion doesn’t always come at the 2pm slump or when you’re ready for bed. It can hide in other ways, and a loss of sex drive is one of them. When you’re not getting enough sleep (or getting lots of disturbed sleep, such as waking up a lot during the night or not getting deep in your REM cycles), your body doesn’t have enough energy to handle your 6am workout, a day’s full of work and to-do lists, cooking dinner, watching The Bachelor, and having hot, intense sex. It’s just not going to happen! Start by setting a bedtime and sticking to it. And don’t be afraid to skip your morning workout every now and then and burn your calories a different way … if you catch my drift.
2. You’re not connecting with your partner
Most of us never think that our connection with our significant other is diminishing. Does this mean we’re not in love anymore? Not exactly. You and your partner might not be connecting emotionally or physically, and it could have nothing to do with the strength of your relationship. A missed connection is simple. You’re interested in trying something new, and they aren’t; you got in a fight and never actually resolved it; you’re afraid to talk to your partner about taking the next step. It doesn’t have to be some big, blown-out thing — losing your connection can be quick and simple, and you might not even notice that it’s happened. When you’re not totally connecting in one way or another, the spark diminishes and your sex drive can be the first place to take the hit.
Luckily, a lost connection can be easy to fix if you know where to look. Are you and your partner communicating effectively? Do you feel like both of your needs are met? Is there something you’re not saying to each other? Communication, when paired with active listening, encourages you both to be honest and flowing about what’s going on and how you want to make changes.
3. Your diet
A poor diet filled with processed foods and added sugars can drag you down in the same way that a lack of sleep can. I’m not saying you have to overhaul your eating habits entirely — trust us when we say we’ll never go without a good cheese and wine night — but adding in whole foods that naturally give your body energy can do a lot to help increase your sex drive.
Along with this, if you’re dealing with any stomach, intestinal, or digestive issues, finding a balanced diet that avoids triggering foods can help as well. When your body is fighting this inflammation and your stomach doesn’t feel well, sex is the last thing on your mind. Our editors have also tried Whole30 and intermittent fasting to help alleviate stomach issues.
Your 9 to 5 affects your sex life a lot more than you think. Your work stress doesn’t stop when you walk into the door of your apartment in the evening. If you often work on nights and weekends, sex can become an afterthought. Who wants to dedicate time to have sex when all you want to do on your much-needed break from work is mindlessly catch up on your favorite show? Our jobs often keep us thinking in the future — we’re always planning and scheduling and working with a future goal in mind. Sex, on the other hand, generally requires us to think in the moment. It’s impossible to schedule arousal or hope you’ll be horny when you get home from work at the end of the day. Engaging with and seducing your partner requires you to be present. If work is putting you in constant disarray of stress and worry and future-thinking, sex might not seem like a priority and might seem like extra work on top of what you’re already dealing with.
While many of us think having that glass of wine with dinner puts us in the mood, alcohol can also have the opposite effect. Just like they taught you in D.A.R.E., alcohol is a depressant, meaning it can dull your mood and bring you down, and it does the same for your libido. Alcohol might give you a little more confidence to ask for that guy’s number or text your booty call (but please, for the sake of your BFF’s sanity, do not text your ex), but when it comes to performance, things are a little messier, a little more awkward, and not as necessarily fulfilling. Alcohol can cause dehydration in the vagina, leading to dryness, less sexual pleasure, pain or discomfort with intercourse, and inability to reach orgasm.
6. Negative sexual experiences
If you and a partner haven’t had the best time in bed recently (i.e. they never — I repeat, never — get you off), you might be less excited to go at it with them or even someone else right away. Sex is an act filled with so many complex emotions, so when we have negative experiences, we tend to associate those negative feelings with sex entirely. If you’ve ever heard of scent recognition, it’s basically the same idea. Does Marc Jacobs Daisy perfume make you think of your high school homecoming dance? Well, having sex with someone (even if it’s someone new) might make you think of the time a partner was unnecessarily aggressive or couldn’t stay aroused.
To combat those negative thoughts, have an open conversation with your partner about what you’re feeling. Getting those thoughts off your chest might help you come to terms with what happened or ease your mind into thinking it could happen again. Talking to your friends or anyone you trust is also a good way to let go of those thoughts. While they may seem discomforting now, you might see them in a new light once you get them out of your head.
Obviously, a history of sexual or physical abuse can also fit here and cause your libido to drop. If you’re a survivor of abuse, it’s OK to be vulnerable and explain to your partner that sex is uncomfortable or triggering to you. You don’t have to tell them everything if you’re not ready, but being open about your reservations might help you detach some of those negative emotions from sex. Support groups and therapy can also be incredibly helpful for this.