12 turnoffs that kill your sex life

Some completely treatable health ailments can put a damper on your sexual allure. Here are 12 turn-offs to treat so that your partner stays turned on.
© MSN Healthy Living // © MSN Health

Who doesn’t want to be sexy and alluring – or hot and studly? The problem is that some treatable health or hygiene issues can shake your special someone straight out of the mood.

Sexual attraction is a complex and multi-faceted phenomenon. But at its heart is the evolutionary drive to seek out mates with whom to procreate. Signs of strength, stamina, fertility, security and good genes all play a role in the mating game — and whether your partner is turned off or on. Even a kiss is a testing tool for some. A 2007 study in the journal Evolutionary Psychology  found that women used kissing to assess potential mates, while men used it as a tool to step up the chances that procreation would take place. Be on the lookout for these 12 red flags that can kill your sex life.

-- By Martica Heaner PhD for MSN Healthy Living

1 of 14 Couple in bed (Andersen Ross/Getty Images

Sweaty armpits

Getting hot and bothered usually involves a little sweating, too.  As sexual arousal and affection increase, so does body temperature — and sweating. But some people sweat too much.

An estimated 2 percent to 3 percent of the population suffer from hyperhidrosis, a condition in which a person sweats excessively — unprovoked by heat, humidity or stress. Excessive sweating can also stem from medical conditions including heart disease, anxiety disorders or cancer, and sweating can be a side effect of some medications.

You can stay dry when things start getting hot by heeding environmental conditions (use the A/C when it gets hot) and with good hygiene — showers and antiperspirant. With severe cases of sweating, see a doctor. Medical treatments include extra-strong antiperspirants, medications that inhibit sweat glands and even Botox, the compound injected into faces to diminish wrinkles. The Botulinum toxin type A is used to block underarm nerves to reduce sweating.

2 of 14 Sweaty armpits (Laurence Monneret/Getty Images)

Body odor, greasy hair, stinky clothes

Clean is sexy. Here’s why: Good hygiene signals good health. So, when it comes to propagating the human species, a clean body is a turn-on.  Perhaps the most visible sign of poor hygiene is body odor. Causes include bad breath that is so pervasive it creates a smelly cloud as well as uncontrolled sweat. (Even if sweat doesn’t stink at first, it will. Bacteria flourish in moisture, and it’s the bacteria that create the odor.)

While different people and cultures have different thresholds of cleanliness, if you expect to get lucky, being super clean is a smart move. And don’t cover icky smells with mints, mouthwash or perfume/cologne. Rid odor from the source. That means one shower daily — more if you have a physical job or work out — plus brushing, flossing, tongue scraping and using antiperspirant. Don’t re-wear clothes, especially workout gear. Bacteria from even a slight amount of sweat will make them stink.

3 of 14 Woman plugging nose (Hill Creek Pictures/Getty Images)


From an evolutionary perspective, we tend to be attracted to those who appear healthy enough to procreate and provide. Someone who is flabby and out of shape screams "unfit for mating." Regardless of body fat (especially since a little extra may be protective), being fit and firm are signs of fertility. “Women like men to have stamina and strength. And men like women to have stamina and curves — but firm curves” says Hardy Pollard, personal trainer at The Houstonian Health and Fitness Club in Houston.

To beef up stamina and get strong and firm, do a combo of both cardio and weight training. “If you leave out strength training, it’s easy to get flabby fast,” Pollard says. For tips on a cardio and strength program, consult a personal trainer.

4 of 14 Flab (Bartomeu Amengual/Getty Images)

Bad skin

Healthy sperm and eggs come from healthy bodies. So when eyeing a potential partner, it’s instinctive to notice surface signs of health. Many Eastern health traditions assess visible parts of the body, such as a person’s tongue and skin, as indicators of health.

Poor facial skin is usually a sign that something is amiss. Not only can some nutritional deficiencies be displayed as acne or pale skin, certain diets can induce inflammatory responses that show up on the skin. “Dairy products such as milk and cheese can contribute to acne in some people,” explains Dr. Diane Downing, a physician and wellness director at the Well & Being at Willow Stream Spa in Scottsdale, Ariz. “In addition, a diet high in processed carbs, high sugar and high fat foods can affect whether a person is prone to getting acne.”

Her tips? Eat fresh vegetables, fruit and whole grains, and include healthy-skin promoting Omega-3s (in fish, ground flaxseed, walnuts and soybeans.)

5 of 14 Bad skin (CMSP/Getty Images)

Bad breath

A sniff of foul breath can be a deal breaker. In the 2007 Evolutionary Psychology study, women indicated that breath was very important when deciding to kiss someone. And if you’ve been silently rejected for a stinky mouth, you may never know — most people are too polite to shout “Ew! You have bad breath!”

And this could be you: A 2003 report by the American Dental Association says that around 50 percent of the population has bad breath at one time or another, and a whopping 25 percent have chronic halitosis.

“The most common causes are plaque on the back of your tongue and periodontal disease,” says Richard Downs, DDS, a breath specialist based in Dubuque, Iowa. Although a dentist can provide a thorough assessment, you can quickly test by licking, then sniffing, the back of your hand. Treatment includes daily brushing and flossing, as well as using a tongue scraper when you brush. Serious cases may require dental procedures.

6 of 14 Person sleeping with mouth open (Tim Kitchen/Getty Images)

Poor posture

Slouching fashion-model style can look cool at first glance. But if that’s really how you hold yourself, you come across as weak if you’re a guy and insecure if you’re a girl. “Standing tall and strutting with your chest held high shouts body confidence and sexual confidence — and is extremely appealing,” Pollard says.

Improving your posture requires a two-pronged approach: posture-enhancing exercises plus maintaining all-day good posture. “A couple of back exercises in the morning is not enough to make up for 10 waking hours of slumping,” Pollard explains. “You need to be constantly aware of your alignment and stand, sit and walk tall.” 

What are some specific posture-improving moves you can do? Pollard recommends hamstring and chest stretches so you don’t slouch from tight muscles. Back-strengthening moves include the Upper Back Band Squeeze, the One-arm Row and the Ball Shoulder Raise.

7 of 14 A woman slouching (Colorblind/Getty Images)

Low energy

Low energy leads to low mojo. When lethargic, you probably don’t feel up for much action. And fatigue may make you less attractive. A 2010 study in the British Medical Journal  had people rate the attractiveness of those who had been photographed after a good night’s sleep and again after having slept for only five hours. The sleep-deprived were rated as looking less healthy and significantly less attractive.

Feeling fatigued results from many factors. “A common culprit is eating processed carbs, low-quality fast foods, and drinking too much alcohol or caffeinated drinks,” Downing says.  Not drinking enough water to stay well hydrated and not eating enough calories to match your body’s energy needs can also send energy plummeting. Not exercising can leave you fatigued too, Pollard says. “It’s a catch-22, you’re tired and don’t want to work out, and that keeps you tired. But if you eat well and work out, you’ll sleep better and have more energy — and be more inclined to work out.”

8 of 14 A tired man (Rubberball/Mike Kemp/Getty Images)

Whiny voice

People with lower voices tend to be perceived as having sexier voices. But the voice of seduction is usually low and sultry. A 2010 study in the Journal of Nonverbal Behavior found that men and women lower the pitch of their voices and show more signs of physiological arousal when talking with someone to whom they are attracted.  

While you might not be able to consciously change the pitch of your voice, what you choose to talk about may dictate how soothing — or annoying — your voice is. Nagging and complaining can give your voice a whiny quality. A negative vibe can also sap the energy out of your partner.

9 of 14 Someone trying not to hear (STOCK4B/Getty Images)

Drinking too much

While a shared cocktail or glass of wine can loosen things up, a person who drinks too much scores a zero on the turn-on scale. Not only is someone who is slurring their words not sexy, but alcohol is a depressant with powerfully negative effects on the reproductive system.

Alcohol can shrink testosterone levels in men. In a 1976 study in the New England Journal of Medicine, men were given alcohol for four weeks. Levels of testosterone and the production of it started to fall after five days and significantly decreased by the end of the study period. In heavy drinkers, this prolonged drop in testosterone can lead to man boobs and other feminizing features. Women who drink heavily can disrupt their hormone levels, resulting in irregular or stopped menstrual cycles and impaired ovulation.

10 of 14 A couple drinking (Antonio Saba/Getty Images)