Lift Your Libido
30 percent of American women have low sexual desire. In other words, there is a good chance that your libido is lagging. The good news? It doesn‘t have to. There are lots of little tricks that can help add more “ahhhh‘s” to your love life. But first, you must learn the basics of your libido.
Libido is, essentially, sexual desire. According to Lana Holstein, M.D., a nationally recognized expert on sexuality and vitality issues and managing director of medical programs at Miraval Life in Balance in Tucson, Arizona, there has been a recent shift in medical thinking triggered by several scientific studies. These studies show that a woman’s libido is both emotionally and chemically stimulated. “Up until now, doctors used a male model of sexual desire and applied it to women. While it is true that testosterone has shown to be a factor in a woman’s desire and ability to be orgasmic, the most important factor is how you feel about your partner and if the two of you are putting attention to your lovemaking.” Libido tends to decrease when a woman allows the demands of life to distract her from her lover, thereby detracting from her libido. When you get back in touch with desire, you increase your libido. Regulating libido can be as simple as shifting one’s attention and energy from the stress of work and life back to your relationship.
Patti Britton—a nationally board-certified clinical sexologist and sex coach, and former president of the Foundation for Scientific Study of Sexuality—refers to the total mind/body connection required to keep desire in check as MEBES—the integration of the Mind, Emotion, Body/body image, Energy, and Spirit. Britton contends that this connection is as important as the hormonal component. She notes that, “The hormone of desire is testosterone, which is true in both men and women, but with women testosterone alone is not going to do the job. Women also need a mind-body connection. When sexual desire decreases, you can’t just pop a pill, which pharmaceuticals want you to be able to do, and fix the problem. All of the MEBES aspects need to be awakened and in alignment, not fighting each other.”
While every person is unique, Britton believes that there tends to be some broad characteristics defining males versus females—especially when it comes to their libidos. “Men tend to get turned on by visual stimulation, while women are more auditory—relationship and story.” In other words, while a man might only need to see a beautiful body to be turned on, women may require more intimacy and interaction; such as being spoken sweetly to, being told that she is loved and beautiful, and, equally important, she needs to feel loved and beautiful. This is one of the reasons that men go to strip clubs for stimulation and women are turned on by long, intimate conversation, soft touches, and penetrating stares.
From a relationship perspective, Britton reminds us that there are different stages of love, each eliciting a varying intensity of sexual desire. “At the beginning of a relationship we are all charged up and on a dopamine high. Then we go into a more nurturing stage that is less about lust. It is still a ‘high,’ but a different high. That is the natural evolution of love.” Another element that typically contributes to the deterioration of sexual desire is the smoke screen effect. Britton notes that, “Upon first getting together, we often create and project an idealized image on our partners. But, after time, the screen clears and we see the real person—warts and all, and we lose some of our lust-filled interest. Part of what we have to do in this culture is move into a more mature love—a quieter, gentle, relaxed, comforting, and stable love. Of course, sometimes we create the storms and the drama to pump up the excitement. We think, ‘if I piss him off, then I can add more excitement and drama.’ Mature love doesn’t have the storms and that drama.”
While women are going around trying to create drama in order to spark their sexual fires, Holstein finds that men naturally walk around horny, in fact, many men describe their sexual desire as something similar to their appetite for food—a natural, regular occurrence. Women typically need to feel emotionally intimate before they feel the desire to become physically intimate. Men, on the other hand, tend to use sex as a means to become emotionally intimate and open their heart, which chemically seems to make sense considering that, according to Holstein, “Both men and women release oxytocin during orgasm, the same chemical that is released when women give birth. It is the bonding chemical, naturally forcing humans to emotionally connect.” Obviously, men also want to make love to someone that they care about while women do feel aroused at times without the element of intimacy. Holstein sees it as a matter of degree—a circle of desire. “I often have male clients who say, ‘I want her to want it,’ and I tell them, ‘well then you have to be very attentive throughout the day.’ Women feel connected and intimate when they feel that they are appreciated and loved. Yes, some women do walk around wanting to ‘do it,’ but, in general, women do not have free-floating sexual desire. It is really about feeling connected that makes women want to make love.”
How to Lift your Libido
Engage in Foreplay All Day Long
Foreplay doesn’t only have to mean kissing and oral sex. Holstein recommends both verbal and non-verbal sexual cues to encourage a healthy sexual appetite. “Gliding his fingers along the back of her neck or running his hands down her spine, looking at her from across the room with loving eyes, giving her a massage—those are things that will turn her on, especially if done without that caveat of ‘if you look back at me intently we have to go to bed,’ or ‘as soon as this massage is done I am going to get in your pants.’ Women are hyper-sensitive to ‘I am just servicing him.’ She wants her man to constantly invite her to experience her feminine.”
Listen to Erotic Stories
Pornos are designed for men, but women love to listen to sexy stories (this goes back to men being visual creatures and women being auditory). Britton loves the sexy stories from Sounds Publishing and Sounds Erotic (Sounds Erotic). The female written and read stories vary in levels of naughtiness from plain old vanilla to down and dirty. Of course, there are a slew of trashy paperbacks out there, but with an audio book you are hands free, which allows you to enjoy the fantasy while engaging with your partner.
Good & Plenty
Skip the chocolate and strawberries and fill your fridge with Good & Plenty and cucumbers—the scent of which, in combination, is said to increase blood flow to women’s nether regions. Oh, and tell your guy to lose the cologne. A study conducted by Alan R. Hirsch, neurological director for the Smell and Taste Treatment and Research Foundation in Chicago, revealed that women who were exposed to the scent of licorice reported a 13 percent increase in blood flow to her genitals, compared to an 18 percent reduction from the scent of cherries and 1 percent reduction from the scent of men’s cologne. Though the exact reason why licorice arouses women is unclear, Hirsch believes that it is either chemically induced or olfactory-evoked nostalgia. You can stimulate even more senses with chocolate and walnuts. Chocolate instantly boosts production of phenylethylamine, a chemical that directly affects the brain’s pleasure center, increasing the intensity of orgasms! Walnuts are loaded with manganese, which can activate an increase in your body’s release of the “feel good” chemical dopamine. Some restaurants make incorporating erotic foods into your diet easy. The Aphrodisiac Restaurant in Los Angeles not only sets the mood with dim lights and lots of deep reds, but then they are sure to include an erotic ingredient into every dish! For an even sexier evening, they have a bedroom, complete with a deep red satin comforter, a butler, and a set menu of aphrodisiac entrees. (Aphrodisiac Restaurant).
Start With The Feet
You don’t have to have a foot fetish to be aroused by a foot massage. Through reflexology you can actually improve your sex drive with the touch of a finger. Michelle Ebbin, owner of Basic Knead and “reflexologist to the stars” views self massage as “a time when you can, and should, tune everything and everyone out and focus on yourself. It’s the time when you can turn inward and pay attention to your own needs. It’s your time to space out and relax your body and your mind.” To increase your sex drive, Ebbin suggests that you massage the hollow just below the ankle bone on the inside and outside of the ankle. These are the reflexes to the sex organs. (For women it connects to the uterus and ovaries, for men it is linked to the prostate and testes.)
Connect With Your Body
Holstein suggests that you tune in with your body by focusing on really feeling its sensations and feeling completely comfortable in your skin. Dedicate an entire day to your body. Do a few yoga poses. Get a massage. Take a long sensual bath with essential oils. Let your hand slide along your shaven legs and enjoy the sensation. Once you are warm and your skin is supple and glowing, walk around the house naked. So many women are physically insecure because they don’t allow themselves to enjoy their beautiful bodies. When you remove your clothes, there is no longer excess skin rolling over your pants or bulging against your bra strap. You are your most beautiful when you are naked. We spend our entire day in our heads, so getting out of our heads and into our body can help the sexual experience. Stand in front of the mirror and love the body you see. If any negative comments enter your mind, release them, and immediately replace them with something positive about your body. The more comfortable you are in your own skin, the more relaxed and intimate you will allow yourself to be with your partner. Your lover loves your body, so should you.
Yoga class does more than stretch your muscles, tone your abs, and calm your nerves. According to Ellen Barrett, author of Sexy Yoga (Ulysses Press, 2004), certain yoga positions, like Eagle pose (a standing balancing posture in which you hook one foot around the other calf so that you are balancing on one foot while twisting your arms around each other so that your palms connect in front of your face) increase prana flow to the root and sacral chakras, which govern the sexual organs, and direct blood flow directly to a woman’s pelvis, creating a warm and relaxed sensation and increasing desire and sensation. Camel pose (essentially a backbend during which you allow your head to drop back, opening your chest and your throat) opens the heart chakra, allowing for more compassion and intimacy in relationships. Squat (where you squat your butt down between your legs, keep your torso upright, and place your arms between your legs with your hands pressed into prayer pose) helps to open the root chakra while releasing tension in the hips and allowing for more comfortable movement.
Stimulate Your Senses
Britton’s book The Complete Idiots Guide to Sensual Massage (Alpha, 2003) has a chart of sensual scents that elevate arousal when you diffuse them into the air or massage them into the skin. For example, ylang-ylang is said to be an aphrodisiac, encouraging sexual stimulation. Rose is the highest vibrating plant, accessing and opening the heart center, which is the root of romance and a trigger of desire. Lavender is effective because it is a relaxant and anything that relaxes the body allows libido to flourish (that’s why it is hard to get aroused when you are stressed). Scent is the most potent memory sense. If a certain scent, such as patchouli, reminds you of feverishly making out with your high school boyfriend, smelling patchouli can trigger your libido to liven up with your new man.
Laura Corn, best-selling sex author of several books including 101 Nights of Grrreat Sex (Park Avenue Publishers, 2000), argues that if you want to increase your libido, have sex more often! “I view sex like working out. You know you are doing something that is great for you and will make you feel good. The more you tend to your partner on a regular basis, the more you will boost your own libido. Women get out of the routine and then wonder why they don’t want sex. Well, they don’t want sex because they aren’t having sex.” Yeah, it’s a catch 22. Like scheduling your workouts, if your libido is in dire shape, put sex on your calendar and just show up. “Send your guy a text or an email telling him that he is getting laid tonight because then you are on the hook and you can’t back out. It also adds the element of anticipation, which is incredibly sexy.”To contact Dr. Holstein, visit www.holsteinandtaylor.com; Dr. Britton, Your sex coach