Increased immune function, improved sleep, and stress relief are a few of the positive perks of sexual activity. But if you’ve lost interest in the good stuff, you are not alone.
What causes sexual dysfunction? Vancouver-based sex therapist Dr. Teesha Morgan, dhs says the most common sexual problems in women are low libido and pain during sex, and for men, erectile dysfunction.
“Couples are reaching out for help with communication; for instance when one partner has a higher libido than the other, or when they are trying to have a baby and find their sex life becoming mechanical,” says Dr. Morgan.
Given that our libidos are influenced by a myriad of psychological and physiological conditions, it is important to consider what may be putting a damper on your sex drive. Beliefs about sex and sexual preferences, how you are feeling about yourself, your work-life balance, and hormones all play a role.
Here are a few tips to help you get your groove back.
Make a date (with yourself)
Dr. Morgan suggests many of the sexual problems she encounters in her practice could be alleviated through a new narrative that dispels fear-based myths surrounding self-pleasure.
She says when we can romance ourselves through masturbation we become better partners, better lovers, and better communicators. Check out her recent Ted Talk exploring the topic www.teeshamorgan.com/media/
Hit the gym
A lack of desire or arousal can be tied to how you are feeling about your partner, but first consider, how do you feel about yourself?
If you are tired or sluggish, a tweak to your exercise regime might rev up your engines. Naturopathic Physician Dr. Shelby Entner says exercise fuels our organs of desire. “Our pelvic regions require blood flow so circulatory issues can impact sexual performance, and our ability to get turned on,” she explains.
Go for a run, a hike, a snowshoe, or a ski. Try a strength training, spin, dance, or yoga class. If illness or injury stands in the way, talk to your healthcare practitioner about limited mobility fitness options.
Check-up on your hormone
When production levels of testosterone in the body are low (a natural decline starts around age 30), a man may experience a lagging sex drive, erectile dysfunction, and fertility issues.Testosterone also plays a role in women’s health, so depression, fatigue, and a decreased libido could be signs of hormone imbalance. Add the decline of progesterone and estrogen during perimenopause and menopause to the equation, and there’s clearly some biochemical complexities that can contribute to sexual dysfunction.
According to Dr. Entner, medications for anxiety and depression also tend to have sexual side effects and flat-line our libidos. Moreover, endocrine disruptors in the environment can impact hormones and fertility.
Talk to your healthcare practitioner about a blood test, or in naturopathic medicine a saliva or urinary test, to further evaluate your hormone levels and the role they are playing in your sexuality.
Seek professional support
Periods of dormancy in desire are normal as our bodies, minds, and relationships change and grow. However, if you are feeling stuck, enlisting the help of an expert can be a lifeline for relationships.
“If a couple is experiencing sexual dysfunction, a third-party facilitating effective communication can help you move away from shaming and anxiety and toward validation and empathy,” says Dr. Morgan. “As a relationship evolves so too can the sex, but both partners must be willing to address the elephant in the room.”