I always want to feel sensual and desirable in the summer. You know, wear fun skimpy clothes and have great sex. In reality, I'm often too tired or stressed to get in the mood, much to my husband's dismay. The six tips in this story should help rev up anyone's sex drive, mine included.
Fuel Your Sex Drive
Not in the mood? Here's how to naturally overcome the top reasons women say no to sex.
Most of us—whether we're in our 20s or 80s—enjoy healthy sex lives. But sometimes we struggle with performance issues or a lack of desire. According to a recent study at the University of Chicago Medical Center (published last year in the New England Journal of Medicine), in which 1,550 sexually active women were interviewed, 43 percent reported low desire, 39 percent said they had problems with vaginal dryness, and 34 percent said they were unable to reach orgasm. On the other end of the spectrum, researchers found that while sexual activity declines somewhat with age, many women (and men) are enjoying sex well into their 60s, 70s, and 80s.
A sluggish sex life may be an emotional or physical issue, says Stacy Lindau, M.D., assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Chicago and lead author of the study. Diabetes, thyroid disease, anemia, childbirth, menopause, hysterectomy, and any medical problems that affect the sex hormones estrogen or testosterone can all result in a decreased sex drive. So can stress, depression, anxiety, and other emotional issues.
Stay vital and Viral At Any Age. A regular sex life is an integral part of any healthy, loving relationship, but a stressful day at work or too many chauffeuring of kids in a day can shift the mood from revved up to ready for sleep. Let's take a look at the top reasons we hear about why we're just not in the mood.
REASON 1: Lack of desire
For some couples, life gets in the way of sex, and before you know it, months go by without any activity. A low sex drive may be the body's response to a lack of sex, says Lindau. Fortunately, reheating a tepid sex life is simple and fun.
HAVE MORE SEX. If you have an active partner, the most natural way to reclaim your sexual desire is simply to start having sex. Make dates for it, if you have to. It may feel forced at first, but as you carve out time for intimacy, it will feel more spontaneous.
CREATE A MOOD. As you make an effort to build your appetite, find ways to be romantic. Give each other a massage after a romantic candlelight dinner.
STAY CONNECTED. Angela Esposito (not her real name), 53, says that staying connected in subtle ways like holding hands has made her sex life better than ever after 24 years of marriage. "I'm so much more relaxed about sex now," she says. "There's less pressure to perform well and often, and I know that many small acts like having a good laugh or giving each other back rubs will naturally lead to sex."
REASON 2: Feeling sluggish and overweight
Carrying too many pounds not only affects your self esteem, it can also throw your hormones out of whack. "Extra fat can produce excess estrogen, which imbalances your hormones and triggers mood swings, and can lead to diminished sexual desire,"says Susan Lark, M.D., author of Dr. Susan Lark's Hormone Revolution (Portola Press, 2007). Changing eating and exercise habits can correct that and help restore desire.
START EXERCISING. Physical activity improves sexual function because it helps lift and sustain energy levels; it also increases blood flow to the genitals, increasing your capacity for sexual arousal.
DEVOTE TIME TO YOURSELF. Before she had children, Sandy Bereux, 41, enjoyed sex with her husband at least three times a week. But with each birth, she found herself less and less interested, until they had no sex life at all. "After my third child, I was 20 pounds overweight,"she recalls. "Sex was the last thing I wanted."A friend suggested Sandy try yoga as a way of doing something that was just for her. "Almost immediately, parts of my body felt as if they were awakening from a deep sleep,"she recalls. "I felt sexy again."She started initiating sex with her husband, and they soon returned to their thrice–weekly routine.
CHANGE YOUR DIET. "Stick to lean sources of protein like seafood and poultry and use rice and soy substitutes instead of red meats and dairy products, which elevate estrogen levels in the blood,"says Lark, adding that soy foods and ground flax seeds help reduce estrogen production, and a high–fiber diet helps eliminate estrogens so they're not recycled back into the bloodstream. Avoid foods high in fat and low in fiber: They block the elimination of estrogen from the body, says Lark.
REASON 3: Lack of sensation
If sex doesn't carry the same physical charge it once did, the problem could be with your pelvic muscles. They tend to lose tone after pregnancy and with aging, resulting in diminished sexual pleasure. Pelvic exercises can ease the problem.
REASON 4: Intercourse is uncomfortable
DO KEGELS TO TONE UP. Similar to ancient Hatha Yoga exercises known as Aswini Mudra, kegel exercises are merely repeated contractions of vaginal muscles, as if you're holding in urine until you get to the bathroom, then releasing. To do them, focus on the vaginal muscles without tightening your buttock or thigh muscles, and be sure your bladder is empty. Experts recommend 10 sets of kegels at least three times a day.
RECLAIM YOUR BODY. After being married for 43 years and taking care of her ailing husband before he passed away four years ago, Pat Oakley, 66, a massage therapist in Creedmoor, N.C., started tuning into her body again, especially after a former boyfriend called. "I started doing kegel exercises and self–pleasuring more often,"she recalls. "By the time I actually went out with him, I was ready for sex!"
Vaginal dryness is common among women of all ages, although it can worsen with age. The first step is to find out what's causing it, says Donnica Moore, M.D., women's health expert and New Jersey–based president of DrDonnica.com. It can be a problem if you have undergone chemotherapy, says Moore, or take birth control pills or a range of other medications. Vaginal dryness is most common during times of hormonal imbalances—which can occur during menopause, after childbirth, while nursing, or due to stress and smoking. If you only notice dryness during acts of intimacy, says Moore, the problem is more likely related to your sex life. Go without sex for too long and your body may stop producing its own natural moisture.
USE LUBRICANTS. A good quality lubricant can do wonders for a sex life that's dried up. At 37, after giving birth to her fourth child, Wendy Strgar says intercourse had become uncomfortable. After developing rashes from drugstore lubricants, she did some research and started making her own petrochemical– free products. The all–natural formulations worked, and she was able to enjoy sex with her husband again and their relationship bloomed anew.
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By Susan McQuillan
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