There’s a lot of talk about libido and what our sex drive as vulva-havers should look like. But there is no should when it comes to sex.
No one gets to decide how interested in sex you should be, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with having low or no interest in sex at all, if that feels right.
At the same time, you may wish you were experiencing more sexual desires than you currently are (again — this desire should come from you alone and not any factors pushing you to feel differently).
If this is the case for you and you’re seeking ways to raise your libido, Foria is here with answers to some of the most common questions regarding boosting your sex drive. So settle in, and let's get into it!
What Is Libido?
Libido or sex drive is how interested we are in having sex. Some people have a high libido, meaning they desire sexual activity or experience sexual fantasies. In contrast, others have lower libido and may be disinterested in sex or not crave it as often.
Libido affects not only our desire for sex but also our interest in masturbation and the frequency with which we have sexual thoughts and fantasies.
Regulated by hormones and biochemical pathways, our libido plays a role in causing feelings of arousal, but one can experience a high sex drive in the absence of physical arousal, too.
What Is a “Normal” Libido Level?
Libido varies greatly from person to person, so we don’t have a great way to quantify what is considered a “normal” libido, nor should we try to.
It’s completely natural for our sex drives to differ from one another, and trying to compare our level of sexual desire to someone else’s can only serve to make us feel needlessly self-conscious, no matter where we fall on the scale.
Whether you want to have sex multiple times a day or never want to have sex, your desires are normal and valid.
What Causes Low Libido?
Some people have a consistently low or high libido, while others experience shifts that can cause their libido to fluctuate over time.
You shouldn’t feel pressured to try and raise your libido unless increasing sexual desire is something you’re actively interested in. If it is, or if you aren’t sure why your sex drive seems lower than it used to be, there are a few potential causes you can investigate.
If you are experiencing tension or lack of communication with your partner, your body may respond in ways that affect your sex drive. If spending time with your partner isn’t feeling as joyful or comforting right now, you may not be as interested in partaking in a sexual experience with them.
Relationship tension can also increase your stress levels, and our stress hormones are known to interfere with the biochemical pathways responsible for libido. When your mind is caught up in nervous energy and frustration around your relationship, less energy is spent on sexual thoughts and desires.
So, if a drop in libido correlates with relationship stress, you may want to think of it as encouragement from deep within to evaluate the state of your relationship, initiate communication about any tension going unsaid, and work towards solutions to address any issues and reset with your SO.
Stress and Exhaustion
Stress can have far-reaching consequences on our sex drive, as the stress hormone cortisol signals the body to shift into survival mode. When the body releases high levels of cortisol and adrenaline in response to external stressors (which can range from a bear attack to having a fight with a friend or getting an urgent project at work — the body hasn’t quite worked out an in-between and we respond to everyday stressors much the way we would life-or-death fight-or-flight stressors).
When cortisol is released, attention turns to the threat at hand, and much of the biological functions considered non-essential are given less energy. This includes libido.
So, it’s no wonder that stress and exhaustion — which can put further stress on the mind and body, reduce focus and alertness, and keep cortisol levels from leveling out as they would during a full night’s sleep — play a role in lowering libido, and in turn affect how much pleasure we experience during sex.
Discomfort during sex is perhaps 10 times more common for people with higher levels of stress or anxiousness. While this discomfort may result from the pelvic floor muscles tightening (a response to stress that can make relaxing the body for intercourse more difficult and less pleasant), it can ultimately lead to emotional frustration and a lower desire for sex overall.
This low interest in sex is not in your head — it may also literally be the body’s physiological response to stress, nervousness, or emotional exhaustion.
If this is the case for you, it is absolutely nothing to feel guilty or ashamed about. While we certainly understand the urge to feel frustrated, try to be gentle with yourself.
Your body supports you in all the ways it can, and frustration and resentment can only lead to more stress and make sexual gratification and desire harder to reach. Instead, try calming the mind and relaxing the body with a warm bath, breathing exercises, or a walk.
Even positive self-affirmations, a gentle self-massage, or keeping a gratitude journal have been found to boost pleasure and lower stress levels — making them the perfect habits to form when trying to break the stress cycle associated with low libido.
So, thank your body for being there and for being you, and explore ways to connect with your inner self and promote calmness however works best for you. Remember to work with your body and not against it.
Our hormones serve as chemical messengers that regulate and trigger many bodily functions, and sexual function and libido are a part of that.
For libido, estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone are the star players. These reproductive hormones can trigger sexual arousal, influence our menstrual cycles, and affect our libido.
Higher sex hormone levels (estrogen and testosterone) may correlate with higher libido, while increased progesterone can lower libido. Hormonal changes brought on by certain medical conditions, the side effects of medications such as antidepressants or SSRIs, hormonal birth control, stress, or menopause can affect libido.
If you think hormonal changes or imbalances may be at the root of low libido, it is best to check in with a healthcare provider to see what options are available to provide support.
Can You Instantly Raise Libido?
While there are methods marketed as quick fixes for low libidos, such as certain pills, herbal supplements, gels, or teas, the science isn’t so clear on how effective any of these options really are. We’re looking at you, maca and fenugreek.
Ultimately we are huge proponents of understanding and addressing the root causes of a low sex drive if that is something you are interested in doing at all.
Speaking to your doctor or sex therapist, working with your partner to address relationship problems and find solutions, or working to manage your stress levels in a natural way can help not just raise your libido but improve areas of your life well beyond your sex life, too.
That said, there are some things you can try to turn up the heat and boost your sex drive in the meantime as you work towards longer-term solutions.
Bring on the Foreplay
Sometimes our sexual encounters aim to get straight to the point, but much can be lost when we skip over foreplay. The buildup of anticipation and sexual tension can help support arousal and limit discomfort and mental stress as you ease into a more expansive sexual act.
Foreplay can also encourage the secretions of natural lubricant from vaginal glands, which shields against friction that can cause discomfort or pain during sex (and lube can provide even further support).
By helping reduce potential vaginal discomfort and allowing more time for sexual exploration and arousal to occur outside of penetration, making time for intentional foreplay can help address some of the deterrents to sex that may lower your sex drive.
To take your foreplay to the next level, try using Awaken Arousal Oil to increase sensitivity and enhance pleasure. When massaged into your genitals (clitoris, labia, and vagina), the botanicals can support healthy blood circulation to the vagina, which can promote relaxation of the pelvic muscles and heighten pleasure, helping make sex a more enjoyable experience that you may just find yourself wanting more of.
If sex is painful, you are probably less likely to crave it moving forward. Sexual discomfort is common and can significantly lower libido — often for those with vaginas. The good news is that there are steps you can take to ease discomfort and promote pleasure during sex — creating a potentially more enjoyable time that you’re more likely to desire again.
Lube is an invaluable tool that can help limit vaginal dryness and ward off unwanted friction by providing added wetness during penetration.
Using lube has nothing to do with how attracted you are to your partner or how aroused they can make you, and it is all about helping your physical arousal match your emotional one and increasing pleasure for you both. So go ahead and lube up to your heart's content — your vagina will thank you for it.
Set the Mood
Building arousal, increasing sensitivity, and creating an atmosphere conducive to relaxation before getting busy can help send pleasure signals through the body to help get you more in the mood.
Create a calm and intimate environment by playing music, lighting scented candles, slipping into something that makes you feel sexy and confident, or taking your fun to the bathtub, where warm water and botanical bath salts can help deepen feelings of security and connection to further set the scene.
Before getting too deep into the foreplay, it may also help to insert an Intimacy Melt for enhanced comfort and pleasure. These small suppositories are safe to use vaginally or anally. As they melt, the soothing CBD is absorbed through the skin and mucous membrane to help chill out the pelvic muscles, support healthy blood flow, and promote relaxation and pleasure.
The vagina also just so happens to have a high concentration of cannabinoid receptors, making vaginal suppositories an ideal fast-acting way to absorb CBD for relaxation and relief from tension or discomfort that may be cramping your style when trying to get it on with your partner or on your own.
By helping you unwind and shake some of that tension before sex, using tools to promote calm from the inside out can help decrease stress and discomfort for more sexual satisfaction. Now that’s an aphrodisiac we can get on board with (sorry, ginseng and ginkgo Biloba).
Should You Try To Instantly Raise Libido?
Ultimately, taking the time to understand what is causing a low libido and how you can address the underlying factors at play can prove more beneficial than trying to throw surface-level quick, which can only go so far when we aren’t tending to the cause.
Without taking steps to fix the foundation and build up towards greater pleasure, trying to have more sex without truly raising your interest in sex and resolving the issues at play can cause further stress and resentment, neither of which are solid recipes for a good and sexy time.
Fixing the Foundation
If you’ve spoken to your doctor and ruled out medical conditions or hormonal changes, low libido is likely the result of relationship tension, mental health or emotional stress, or outside stressors. While addressing these foundational causes or lifestyle changes may take time, doing so can enhance your well-being beyond the bedroom.
If you ask us, the potential of experiencing deeper pleasure — sexually and elsewhere — makes it well worth the effort.
Clear the Air
We know that conversations around sex may feel awkward, perhaps even more so outside of the bedroom. But setting a time to open up to your partner(s) and share how you’re feeling with them can help set expectations that can reduce any pressure or stress you may feel around your sex life.
Honest and open communication is the foundation of any sturdy relationship, including sharing your sexual desires and needs.
If you and your person are operating under different levels of libido, coming together to discuss what you both want and how you can find it together (without forcing sex that you aren't in the mood for) can help you reach greater relationship satisfaction. And maybe sharing with your partner can help reduce stress levels and make exploring desires at your own pace more exciting, too.
Schedule Time Outside the Bedroom
Make time to tend to your relationship on an emotional level — this can be just as important to your libido as building physical intimacy.
While it may not be possible to remove all external stressors you face (we wish!), taking steps to minimize stress where you can, and finding tools to help you respond to and adapt to the stressors you can’t remove, can help lower havoc-wreaking cortisol levels and promote internal balance.
Setting boundaries, reevaluating relationships that are causing ongoing distress, stepping away from work or the news when you can, and prioritizing activities that allow you to cultivate your passions or promote calmness, such as reading, sketching, yoga, or meditation, can all help you respond to stress. And even if you aren’t craving sex, asking your partner for a massage (or giving yourself one) can help boost feel-good and hormones to promote increased intimacy outside of intercourse.
The Bottom Line
Our libidos are often inconsistent, can shift throughout our lives, and differ from one person to another. While there is nothing wrong with having a lower or higher libido, it’s common to want to experience more sexual gratification even when your sex drive is low.
You deserve great sex, and you deserve to enjoy great sex as often as you’d like. If your sex drive is currently lower than you’d like it to be, sharing how you’re feeling with your partner, finding ways to relieve discomfort, and engaging in stress-busting activities can help you let loose and experience elevated sexual pleasure and desire.
Here at Foria, we are all about you finding pleasure wherever it exists for you. Stick with us for more tips and tools to keep your sexual health and wellness as spectacular as can be, however that looks for you.
Interactions between sleep, stress, and metabolism: From physiological to pathological conditions | PMC
Women’s sexual dysfunction associated with psychiatric disorders and their treatment | PMC
Research shows pain relieving effects of CBD | ScienceDaily
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