In the words of Carl Jung, our libido is "appetite in its natural state" which includes sleep, hunger, thirst and sex.
But do you have any control over your sexual appetite and if yes, what can you do to get your sex drive back it when it drops?
Talk about it
Ever thought about discussing with your partner what turns you on? it might sound like a clinical approach, but dating and relationship coach, Elissa Lippett, swears by it.
"Discussing how often you would both like to have sex and working out a balance that works for you both, then having someone be accountable for it making it happen, helps create a great relationship."
Find your libido boosters
Isiah McKimmie is a couples therapist and sex therapist who runs courses on how to get in touch with your natural sex drive and create greater intimacy. Her take on how to increase your libido is very pragmatic.
"There are many factors than influence our sexual desire. A helpful way to look at it is that we each have sexual brakes and sexual accelerators. Sometimes loss of sexual desire is due to have too many sexual brakes on, sometimes it’s because we haven’t been giving enough attention to our accelerators and often, it’s a combination of both."
So how do we ease off on the brakes and how do we put our foot on the metaphorical sexual gas?
What are your sexual brakes?
According to McKimmie, sexual brakes are things like:
- Stress (though this can both increase or decrease desire depending on the person)
- Being in a long-term relationship (which changes our hormone levels and can reduce desire)
- Relationship dissatisfaction or tension
- Feeling tired
- Being worried about kids interrupting you
- Low body confidence
- Low sexual confidence
- A history of sexual trauma
- Poor physical health
- Raising children
What gets you in the mood?
Now you have a handle on what turns you off, consider what turns you on.
Sexual accelerators might include:
- Feeling connected to a partner
- Having balance of couple time and alone time
- Feeling confident
- Being relaxed
- Knowing what you enjoy sexually
- Generally being happy and healthy
Make sex a priority
Its important to know what you want, but another important factors in increasing your libido is making your sex life a priority. "We need to be wiling to give time and attention to being intimate with our partner," says McKimmie.
"Desire is something that can be cultivated. If we start being intimate with a partner we might find that our desire suddenly appears and this is totally okay."
Male vs female libido
Stereotypically we consider men to have the higher sex drive but that's not the case says McKimmie.
"What we know is that there is actually much more difference in sexual desire within each sex than between them. In heterosexual relationships, it’s common for either a man or woman to have higher desire than their partner," she says.
"It’s important to keep in mind that our sexual desire can change. There is no one acceptable level of desire or ideal frequency for sex. It’s about what works for you and your partner so you both feel connected, loved and happy."
"Sometimes we have to work on this together, or get support from a professional to help us."
So the key message here is, your libido is your business, and it's more helpful to figure out what will improve your sex life rather than comparing yourself to others.
Learn how to jumpstart your libido
Lippett has helped hundreds of couples get their desire on track, and in her opinion, part of it is knowing each others 'jumpstarters'.
"Jumpstarters can have you going from zero to steamy in seconds," she says. "Jumpstarters are the words, phrases and touches that make you want to have sex NOW. It takes the guesswork out of it for both of you and has you in the mood really quickly."
Lippett has worked out that often our sexual signals to each other are missed. "By creating clear signals with each other it helps avoid the hurt of being rejected when you think you are putting yourself out there and the other person had no idea."
So, what are your jumpstarters? Figure it out and tell your partner. It could improve your sex life tenfold.
What is your pumpkin hour?
Sometimes we're just not in the mood and no amount of enticing will get us there. But that can be helped by considering when is a good time?
Lippett calls this the pumpkin hour method i.e. knowing (and letting your partner know) when sex is off the table. For example, if you know you need 6 hours sleep, then weekdays between 10pm to 5am become your pumpkin hour.
"It takes away the resentment from it costing you too much, or being depleted for providing sex and being upset afterward," says Lippett.
Having clear boundaries is empowering, which in turn can lead to you feeling happier and in the mood for sex more often.
Foods that increase libido
Nuts, beetroot, chilli and oysters are all considered to help improve libido. But rather than being natural aphrodisiacs their potency is more about sexual function, sperm health and overall wellness.
Eating a balanced diet that includes plenty of mixed vegetables will ensure you get a healthy dose of vitamins, whereas nuts, seeds and shellfish will help boost mineral levels, including zinc which is indicated in reproductive health for both men and women.
On the other hand, if you simply want to turn up the heat in the bedroom, you can use food as a sexual tool. Using your hands to share a lobster or feeding each other chocolate covered strawberries is a simple way to loosen up and connect with your partner.
And who knows, it might even lead to sex.