30 percent of American women have a low libido. The good news? It doesn’t have to stay that way. There are lots of little techniques that can help add more excitement to your love life. But first, it’s crucial to learn the basics about your libido.
Libido is, essentially, sexual desire. According to Dr. Lana Holstein, M.D., a nationally recognized expert on sexuality and vitality issues and the author of How to Have Magnificent Sex: The 7 Dimensions of a Vital Sexual Connection, 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 recently, doctors used the male model of sexual desire and applied it to women. While it’s true that testosterone has proven 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.” Libido tends to decrease when a woman allows the demands of life to distract her from her lover, thereby diminishing her libido. Regulating libido could be as simple as shifting one’s attention and energy from the stress of work and life back into your relationship.
Dr. 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 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 and fix the problem. All of the MEBES aspects need to be awakened and in alignment.”
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’re all charged up and on a dopamine high. Then we go into a more nurturing stage that is less about lust. It’s 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 smokescreen effect. Britton states, “Upon first getting together, we often create and project an idealized image of 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. Of course, sometimes we create drama to pump up the excitement.”
While women are trying 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 connected 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. According to Holstein, “Both men and women release oxytocin during orgasm, the same chemical that’s released when women give birth. It’s the bonding chemical, naturally forcing humans to emotionally connect.”
Now, let’s talk about what you really want to know:
7 Tips to Lift your Libido
Engage in Foreplay All Day Long
Foreplay doesn’t only have to mean kissing and touching. 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, cuddling and laughing, those are all 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 I’m finished massaging you, I’m going to get in your pants.’ Women are hypersensitive to the idea of servicing her mate. 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). These stories are all written and read by women and vary in levels of naughtiness from plain old vanilla to seriously down and dirty. Of course, there’s 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 or yourself.
Good & Plenty
Ditch the chocolate and strawberries and choose Good & Plenty and cucumbers. The combined scent 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% increase in blood flow to her genitals, compared to an 18% reduction from the scent of cherries and 1% 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. Try chocolate and walnuts as well. 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.
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 views 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. To increase your sex drive, Ebbin suggests that your partner 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. Take a long sensual bath with essential oils, which have a myriad of healing properties. 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. You are your most beautiful when you are naked. 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. This practice immediately takes a low libido in the direction of sexual desire.
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 addressing any issues that a low libido presents. 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. Squatting (where you position 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 and increasing low libido into high sex drive. 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 low libido in the hear and now.
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 encourage a low 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 low 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 low 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.”
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