We want to specify that not all women have vulvas, and not all vulva havers are women. But, better understanding your libido (or your partner's libido) and ways to support it as a vulva owner can benefit your sex life and self-understanding regardless of gender.
What Is Libido?
Libido refers to our sex drive or our desire for sex. The culmination of hormones, brain function, and learned behaviors forms our unique sex drive.
Some people have a high sex drive meaning they want sex often, while others have a low sex drive, and sex may not be something they particularly need or even want. Sex drive or libido refers not to how often you have sex but how often you desire sex or masturbation, as well as your interest in sexual fantasies. Wherever you land on the libido spectrum is perfectly okay!
Stress, emotional state, relationship, medications, and external factors can also affect libido, and it’s common for libido to fluctuate throughout your life. While each person’s level of sexual desire can differ, we all have the same biochemical pathways involved in our sex drive.
These biochemical pathways and the hormonal messages that control them can stimulate arousal and ultimately trigger the physiological signs of arousal that many of us are familiar with — wetness, hardened nipples, erection, the whole nine yards.
What Is a Normal Libido for Women?
While this is a valid question, we want to completely rid our minds of the idea of “normal” as it relates to sex. Like sexual interests and desires, sex drive varies greatly from one person to the next — and from one point in our lives to another.
There is no wrong level of libido. Having sex every day is normal, having sex once a month is normal, and never having sex is also extremely valid. The only potential concern with a low (or high) libido is if it negatively affects your quality of life.
If you are interested in experiencing more desire for sex than you currently are, that is the only reason you should look into strategies to boost libido — not because anyone else tells you that you should.
What Causes Low Libido in Women?
Stress, the phase of your hormonal menstrual cycle, and more can affect libido. Whether psychological, physiological, pharmaceutical, or pathological factors are affecting your sex drive, there may be ways to work towards increasing desire and achieving heightened sexual pleasure.
Cortisol is basically an off-switch to many biological functions as our bodies shift into survival mode. If we are under a lot of stress and our bodies are pumping out cortisol, we are not likely to be feeling groovy and in the mood.
When cortisol and adrenaline are released during times of stress, they are known to suppress testosterone levels in people of all genders, which can cause a blow to our sex drive. So if you are feeling overworked, overwhelmed, and overstressed and aren’t engaging in sex as much as usual, it may be more than just not having the time or energy.
The stress you are feeling can literally interfere with the hormones involved in your sex drive, making your sexual desires dip during these times.
Sleep is vital. When the night settles in, and our brain slows down, the body can reset and recharge, ensuring biological function continues to run smoothly.
Sleep is when our hormone levels balance, our immune system gets TLC to ward off infections effectively (did you know people who get over seven hours of quality sleep are less likely to get sick?), our muscles get uninterrupted repair time, and our brain clears out toxins to support cognitive function, memory consolidation, and mood.
So, we shouldn’t be sleeping on sleep. But what does this have to do with sex drive? One of the hormones that naturally drops during our sleep cycles is the stress hormone cortisol.
That's right, the hormone known to disrupt chemical pathways and hormonal balance that can serve as an ultimate turn-off. So, by getting enough sleep, you can help lower stress levels for a body that feels better all around and is more down to get around (wink wink).
For some, a lack of sex drive results from sex that just isn’t that exciting. If sex feels more like a chore than a pleasure, the complex hormonal pathways that influence libido may respond accordingly and can lead to a lower craving for sex.
If you're hoping to boost your libido and find that boredom in the bedroom is one of the issues at hand, this may be a good time to try switching things up. You can try out new positions (and maybe new places outside of the bed) or explore any erotic fantasies you may have.
If sex is painful or uncomfortable, it isn’t surprising that your body may not desire sex as often. Certain medical conditions, such as pelvic floor dysfunction, may be at the root of uncomfortable sex.
Alternatively, uncomfortable sex may result from not finding the type of touch your body responds to. If you find penetration uncomfortable or unpleasurable, for instance, focusing on clitoral stimulation instead can help boost arousal and deepen pleasure, which can increase sexual desire.
Using lube, arousal oil, or CBD Intimacy Melts can also limit the friction known to make sex less comfortable while also increasing sensitivity and relaxing the muscles for enhanced pleasure. This is a great opportunity to explore your own body every which way and find the exact spots and rhythms to get your heart thump-thumping and your toes curling in orgasmic pleasure.
Feeling out of sync with your partner can not only serve as a mental or psychological deterrent to your sex drive, but relationship issues can also cause stress that disrupts our sex drive in a physiological sense as well.
Disagreements, dry spells, and periods of doubt in a long-term relationship are all normal to a certain degree. But if you are finding that you are much more stressed with your partner, less happy, or less interested in sex than you used to be, this is likely a sign that something isn’t working or is missing in your current state of things. Your body might be catching onto and signaling these changes.
Listen to your heart (or in this case, your libido). It may be onto something and letting you know that this is a time to communicate, reflect, and tend to any areas of the relationship that are lacking.
Estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone all play a role in sex drive. These hormones serve as messages between the brain and body, and trigger numerous biological functions such as the different phases of our menstrual cycle, ovulation and reproduction, and sex drive.
High estrogen levels may increase sex drive, while higher levels of progesterone can reduce libido. Those with vulvas also typically have low testosterone levels that affect libido (unless they are on testosterone supplementation). Lower than usual levels of testosterone may also lower libido.
Certain medical conditions, birth controls, and medications all have the potential to shift our hormonal balance. So if you experience lower levels of estrogen or testosterone or higher levels of progesterone, you may notice a drop in your sex drive.
If you suspect hormonal imbalance is at the root of your change in libido, it’s best to check with your doctor to see if there are any underlying issues or if a different medication or dosage can help.
Certain medications, such as antidepressants and SSRIs, may also cause hormonal changes that can lower the libido, so check in with your doctor if you have any questions or concerns about your meds or dosage.
Do Libido Supplements for Women Work?
Certain herbal supplements, such as ginseng or ashwagandha, have been promoted as a quick fix to boosting libido. And while the vitamins and minerals in certain foods and herbs may help boost the brain or support blood flow in ways that affect stress levels and sex drive, relatively few studies clearly outline the benefits and safety of libido supplements.
And when it comes to our sex drive, we are all about self-reflection, open communication, and exploring the body to find what truly sparks your arousal rather than seeking a quick fix. If something physical or mental is at the root of low libido, speaking to a gynecologist, sex therapist, or talk therapist can help.
In addition, journaling and destressing or figuring out any potential relationship-related blocks can provide a more holistic solution that can improve your mood and outlook in and out of the bedroom.
And if you are interested in incorporating certain foods and herbs into your diet, make sure you speak with a healthcare professional to ensure there are no risks — as certain herbal supplements can negatively interact with other drugs and medications.
How Can You Raise Libido?
We are all about addressing root causes — emotional, mental, or physical. Taking time to understand what is influencing your libido and coming up with long-term solutions can boost not just your sex drive but also lead to improvements in your relationship, outlook, confidence, and connection with yourself.
So, what can you do to get started on working towards a higher sex drive? Here are some of our go-tos.
Open Up to Your Partner
Whether in a long-term relationship or enjoying a casual fling, you should feel safe being honest with your person about the amount of sex you’re craving. You’ll hear us say it again and again: communication is key to healthy and satisfying relationships.
If you’re craving a higher sex drive than the one you’re currently experiencing, sharing this with your partner can help clear the air and limit any insecurities or pressure either of you may be feeling. Let them know what you need — whether that is asking them to pause trying to initiate sex as you figure out how to build your libido or trying different types of sexual activities that may better boost your arousal.
Just knowing that they understand what’s going on for you and are prepared to support you can help remove some of the pressure or tension you feel around sex, making the process less stressful already. Set the pace and work on how to move forward together.
Who knows, it may just open up a conversation and period of exploration that leads to greater intimacy and pleasure for you both.
Remove Outside Stressors
While we’d love it if getting rid of stress was as simple as engaging in our favorite de-stress activities, sometimes external stressors are outside our control. Our bodies are hardwired to react to stress with the release of cortisol — regardless of whether that stress truly requires us to go into survival mode or not.
And, while we can’t get rid of every outside stressor or keep it from affecting us, there are some strategies we can use to limit our exposure to stress and mitigate the havoc it can wreak on our body and libido.
Setting boundaries at work or with friends or family members when the relationship is causing you tension, turning off the news or setting your phone away when you catch yourself in a doom scrolling cycle, joining a community org or online space to connect with others, talking to a therapist, getting out into nature, or finding time for your hobbies can all help you remove or respond to the stressors that could be standing as a divide between you and the sexual pleasure you deserve.
Address Internal Stress
Internal and emotional stress can play just as big a role in lowering libido as external stressors — and may feel even more intimidating to face. But, while these feelings are so valid, finding ways to address and tend to internal stress can benefit you in all areas of your life, the bedroom is just one of them.
With stress, much of it is cyclical. External stress can lead to heightened internal stress, and internal stress can make us feel less capable of handling external stressors. Similarly, the very biological functions that stress can interfere with such as sleep and libido are also proven to reduce stress when we have the ability and interest in partaking in them.
And while this means that stress in one area can spiral into other aspects of our lives, it also means that finding tools to navigate a single stressor can help alleviate other seemingly unrelated stresses, as well.
To help you address any mental and emotional stress you may be facing, try journaling, practicing mindfulness and meditation, or making time to connect with loved ones. Incorporating CBD into your self-care routine can also promote full mind-and-body relaxation while boosting the effects of soothing endocannabinoids, helping you feel more centered and balanced from the inside out.
When you’re feeling low, remind yourself that you are worthy of receiving love and experiencing pleasure, and try acknowledging the small ways you show up for yourself each day — maybe with a positive affirmation like I am enough or by congratulating yourself when you accomplish a small task, be it finishing a project, taking a shower, or nourishing yourself with food and water. And allow yourself to take breaks and prioritize rest guilt-free.
Break the Routine
If boredom messes with your sex drive, may we suggest boosting your libido — and overall mood — by adding a splash of newness to your day-to-day life? Maybe take a spontaneous day trip, sign up for a class, or plan a date night or mini vacay with your SO that you haven’t tried before (and don’t forget to pack our travel-sized Quickie Kit to help you explore pleasure wherever the adventure takes you).
Activities that boost feel-good hormones like endorphins, dopamine, and serotonin can help reduce stress levels and raise your libido in the process.
Spice Things Up
When we say break the routine, we encourage you to do so in big and small ways — and that can include in the bedroom. If your sex life has lost its pizazz, digging deeper into your fantasies and finding ways to bring them to life can increase your interest in sex.
How would you feel about trying to get it on (with a partner or on your own) in new positions, locations, and with new toys incorporated into the mix? What about role-playing or engaging in group sex? Whatever gets you excited, roll with it and see where it takes you!
Make sure that everything is done safely and consensually with clear communication. Other than that, let your fantasies lead the way. And if you let yourself lean into them without judgment, your desires may surprise you in the best of ways.
The Bottom Line
Low libido is extremely common and nothing to feel guilty or nervous about. But, if it’s affecting your life and relationship or keeping you from exploring sex and pleasure as fully as you’d like, communicating with your partner, lowering your stress levels, and seeking out adventures in and out of the bedroom can help you feel more at peace and ready to explore your sexual desires.
And no matter how you choose to go about that exploration, Foria is here to support you in seeking out and experiencing pleasure wherever you find it. You’ve got this!
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