If you've been wondering why your sex drive is low, it could be due to a number of lifestyle habits that are causing you to feel worn down in other areas of your life. These habits include things like skipping out on sleep and leading a stressful life — all of which experts say can add up to a lack of desire. And, when you think about it, that makes a lot of sense.
When it comes to feelin' in the mood, there's a lot at play. "Female sexual drive is impacted by mental and physiological factors," Rhonda Mildrad, LCSW, relationship therapist and founder of the online relationship community, Relationup, tells Bustle. And, as a result, she tells me it can be difficult to treat
That doesn't mean, however, that it's impossible. By making sure that you're taking care of your physical and emotional well-being, you can start to feel an interest in sex again. But if you're checking all your well-being boxes, and things still aren't clicking, don't be afraid to reach out to a therapist who specializes in sexual health. They can help you get to the bottom of the issue, so you can get back out there and enjoy sex again. Here are a few factors experts say may play a role in lowering your sex drive.
1Maintaining A Way-Too-Stressful Schedule
We all lead stressful lives, and finding that ideal work/life balance can be tricky. But if you're reaching your limit on the daily when it comes to work and stress and your social life, it can certainly impact your desire to have sex.
"Not leading a balanced life, and constantly feeling the stress and pressure of work, can alter the body’s hormone balance," says Milrad. "With stress, the hormone cortisol is released and elevated levels of cortisol can suppress the body’s natural sex hormones."
So, don't forget to schedule time into your life for yourself, maybe by partaking in activities that can help you de-stress — like yoga, meditation, walking outside, journaling, or whatever else helps you wind down. These habits can vastly improve your stress levels, and thus increase your sex drive.
2Skipping Out On Medical Checkups
Since underlying health conditions can impact your sex drive, make sure you stay on top of those regular medical exams. And always speak to a doctor if you're feeling "off" in any way.
"Routine medical exams are an opportunity to check your hormone levels, discuss side effects of medications, or problems like vaginal dryness," says Milrad. "Medical issues and treatments can affect sexual desire and you may be missing an easy solution to your problem if you skip your routine medical checkups."
3Feeling Self-Conscious During Sex
It's common to have a wide array of emotions during sex, from nervousness to self-consciousness to everything in between. And yet these thoughts, if not kept in check, can cause you to be too "in your head" during sex, which can lower your sex drive.
As Milrad says, being negatively preoccupied during sex can impact your desire levels. But by remembering that everyone has worries and hangups during sex, it can be possible to kick back, let it all go, and truly enjoy the moment.
4Not Getting Enough Sleep
Not getting the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep per night will not only make you feel sluggish physically and mentally, but it might kill your sex drive.
And, again, it's all thanks to those pesky cortisol levels. "This can wreak havoc on some women's stress response and lead to a slow-down of reproductive activity as our bodies try to conserve energy for body systems that are necessary for life (like our lungs, heart and nervous system)," dietician Hannah Meier RD, LDN tells Bustle. When your body is fighting to stay awake, sex drive can be put on the back burner.
5Taking Antidepressants Or Other Medications
If medication for anxiety or depression is helping you feel more like yourself, and enjoy life again, then it's totally worth it. But do keep in mind that some antidepressants do have side effects that can affect sex drive.
"We know that antidepressants, specifically those in the SSRI group ... are associated with a decrease in sexual desire," Dr. Michael Ingber, of The Center for Specialized Women’s Health, tells Bustle.
But that doesn't mean you should stop taking them, or adjust your dose without consulting your doctor. If you feel like your pills are preventing you from enjoying sex, talk with your doctor to see what you can do to even out your moods, and still enjoy sex.
While it's certainly OK to have a few drinks in moderation, or a glass of wine before bed, studies have shown that chronic drinking can lower your sex drive. "Sexual desire and arousal is often a 'central' phenomenon in women, meaning it starts in the brain," says Ingber. Studies show that many women who chronically drink experience low sex drive, Ingber says, while many also experience a decrease in orgasms.
If you think this might be the reason why you're suddenly turned off sexually, speak with a doctor about your alcohol use, and how you might be able to cut back.
7Playing Video Games For Hours
Sexual desire has (eye roll) been studied more in men than in women. But because research has shown sexual desire may not be different in women than it is in men, despite the sexist stereotypes we're used to hearing, certain causes of low sex drives many not be gender-exclusive. "For example, one study showed that video game play for more than one hour per day was associated with a lower sexual desire in men," Ingber says. There is a chance this can apply to female sex drive as well, Ingber says.
Although low sex drive may be difficult discuss, you are not alone in feeling the way you do. Whether it be stress, or certain types of medication, there are many habits that can affect sex drive, and speaking with a loved one, doctor, or therapist specializing in sexual health can help.