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Expert Advice on What to Do About a Low Sex Drive

(You or your partner's.)
Photo via Getty Images

One common complaint some couples face is a disparity in desire: One person wants to get it on while the other can’t conjure any interest. For many, a lackluster libido could be biological, as our sex drives decline naturally as we age. Studies show that testosterone production in men decreases by about 2 percent a year. While in women, menopause severely limits estrogen production, which lowers a woman's interest in sex. In both cases, hormone therapy can help stabilize levels.


Lifestyle choices and our environment also affect our libido. Everything from what we ingest (alcohol, drugs, and food) to where we live and how much stress we have in our lives can impact our levels of lust. It doesn’t help that our entire modern lifestyle can aid in making our sex drive plummet lower than the ratings for a Jeremy Piven–led procedural on CBS. For others, there may be no discernible reason for the indifference toward sex. Just as we have happy and sad days, you can expect your sexual appetite to have both surges and retreats, too.

According to a new study published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior, Americans are having less sex overall: “Those born in the 1930s (the Silent generation) had sex the most often, whereas those born in the 1990s (Millennials and iGen) had sex the least often.” Married couples took the biggest hit, having sex an average of 56 times a year in 2014, down from 67 in 1989.

However, just because it’s normal to feel “meh" about getting it on doesn’t mean you won’t feel concerned if it’s your first time experiencing a change in your (or your partner's) sex drive. We approached sex coaches, relationship therapists and psychologists and asked for their best advice about how to handle experiencing a dip in desire. Here’s what they said.

Be choosy about when and where you bring the issue up

Don’t talk about it in the midst of a sexual moment, whether it’s a moment of good sex or a moment of low libido; it’s not the time. Instead, talk about it when you are both calm, sitting or lying together, without any other major stresses on your mind, and you are in a place where you both can be open and vulnerable. Don’t be aggressive, blaming, or belittling. Instead, talk from a place of confident vulnerability. Don’t be offensive, defensive, or offended. Talk in a way that shows you care, and want to help improve your sex drive and find a solution together. Say what you love so much about your relationship, and that there are areas you think would help improve your connection even more. Don’t say that you are unsatisfied. Instead, say you would love to improve what you already have. - Laurel House, celebrity dating coach known as "The Man Whisperer"


Don’t take it personally

The most important part of communicating about libido is that each partner doesn't personalize the other's libido (i.e. your libido is low, that means I'm not attractive enough). I've spoken to hundreds, probably thousands, of people about libido, and it is almost never that reason. Once partners can see that libido itself is a journey, both personal and relational, they can be supportive and curious, ready to find each other's edges and challenge each other to feel and try new things. - Brandy Engler, an LA-based psychologist and author of The Men on my Couch and The Women on my Couch

Engage in kinder, gentler self-talk

Stress is a sex killer. When we are stressed, we may be preoccupied with deadlines, worries about getting through our commitments, and fears about letting people down. We may be hard on ourselves or have thoughts such as, I am not competent to complete these tasks, or, Why can't I just manage my time better? Will I ever learn? Negative judgments about ourselves can directly extinguish sexual desire, and can extend into the bedroom where we might be especially prone to thoughts like, I'm worried I won't have sexual arousal, or, Will my partner leave me if we lack sexual chemistry? Try incorporating mindfulness meditation into your life on a daily basis. Mindfulness reduces anxiety, and can make you more in tune with the sensations arising in the body moment by moment. - Dr. Lori Brotto, professor, psychologist, and author of Better Sex Through Mindfulness: How Women Can Cultivate Desire

Chill (and maybe light up a spliff)

Low libido is not a significant problem in and of itself. It only becomes a problem when your low libido differs from your partner's libido. If your partner doesn't understand that factors outside your control, like menopause and the natural aging process, are responsible for your low libido, then it's going to cause friction. They may mistakenly believe that your libido hasn't dropped but that you are “keeping” sex from them. In these cases, you need to sit them down and explain what's happening and explain why it's normal.

That said, an interesting finding from a large-scale study in 2017 on marijuana use found that using weed is independently associated with increased sexual frequency. Perhaps adding a little 420 to your life is the key to boosting your sex drive! - Sean Jameson, sex coach and the founder of Bad Girls Bible

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