Sneaky things that kill your sex drive
Birth control pills
Just when you were ready to have safe, super-hot sex, your baby-blocker goes and blocks your sex drive. What a downer! But it’s a real possibility. One recent study found that birth control pills significantly decrease circulating levels of testosterone—that’s the hormone that gives us girls a get-up-and-go sex drive. If you suspect your pill is causing problems “downtown,” it might just be a matter of switching scripts. One formula might boost libido for one woman but kill it for another, so discuss alternate options with your gyno.
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By K. Aleisha Fetters
Wait -- if antidepressants boost your mood, shouldn’t they boost your sex drive too? If only. It turns out that many antidepressants can diminish testosterone levels and even curtail blood flow to your nether regions. That means you or your guy might be in a happier place, but your sex drives? Not so much. Talk to your doc about trying out a different prescription, or consider a trip to the gym: A recent study found that women on antidepressants who started an exercise routine or stepped up their current one reported a decrease in those libido-lowering side effects.
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Antihistamines are made to dry out your nasal passages, but did you know they also dry out your vagina? And that can lead to painful sex—which not surprisingly would put a girl less in the mood. While a bottle of lube can help smooth things over for you, antihistamines may also mess with your guy. Many of them contain pseudoephedrine (aka Sudafed), a vasoconstrictor that limits blood flow below the belt. Translation: Until he lays off the meds for a day or two, he might have problems pitching a tent in your campsite.
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A glass of wine pre-hanky-panky won’t just lower your inhibitions, it can also send your sex drive plummeting. In fact, knocking back a couple of drinks before you jump in the sack can actually dull your nerve endings and leave you orgasm-less. Plus, if your guy likes to hit the bottle a little too often, a damaged liver can elevate his levels of estrogen and lower his levels of testosterone, resulting in one sexless relationship. We definitely won’t drink to that.
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According to one study, women with too-high levels of cholesterol are two-and-a-half times more likely to have not-so-great nooky than those whose cholesterol levels are in check. That may seem like an odd thing, but here’s why it makes sense: Cholesterol can build up on the walls of the arteries and limit blood flow to the pelvic area, which decreases sensitivity down below. FYI, that’s also why high cholesterol levels can take down your man’s erection like a bulldozer. To rule this cause out or get it under control, head to your doc for a blood test.
If you haven’t seen one of those cheesy late-night ads in the past year, we’ve got a news flash: Low levels of testosterone (low-T!) can wreck a man’s sex drive. However, contrary to what the ads might lead you to believe, you don’t have to be a really old dude to have it. True, levels tend to decrease as a guy gets older, but there are a variety of other things that contribute to low-T—from high levels of iron to a defective pituitary gland—that have nothing to do with age. So if your guy’s drive has been in park for more than four weeks, encourage him to get his levels checked.
Have you been gaining weight or been sluggish and moody? Hypothyroidism could be the culprit. When your thyroid gland won’t secrete enough hormones to keep your body’s energy systems working correctly, it can cause several symptoms, including (yep!) a lackluster sex drive. It never hurts to get tested: According to the American Thyroid Association six in 10 people with thyroid disease don’t know they have it! Another important reason to get checked out? Left untreated, thyroid issues can also lead to infertility.
“Not tonight, honey -- I’m tired.” Sound familiar? While general fatigue is definitely one factor behind those no-nooky nights, chronic sleep deprivation actually screws with your hormones and can hit your libidos like a torpedo. Even more surprising: How little time it takes to happen. According to one study, the testosterone levels of men who got less than five hours of sleep a night for a week were similar to those of a man who is 15 years older! Bottom line: Get more Zzzs and you’ll get more Os!
Anemia can bruise more than your skin. It can also leave a serious mark on your sex life. When you’re anemic, the blood doesn’t have enough red blood cells, which are supposed to deliver oxygen to your organs—including your sexy ones. Without the fuel they need, your sex drive slows to a crawl. If chowing down on burgers and leafy greens doesn’t get your energy back, ask your doc if you need B12, iron or folate supplements. And while you’re waiting for those to kick in, why not put his morning wood to good use—switch your sex schedule to the a.m. when you’ll have the most pep in your step.
Nestperts: Ava Cadell, Ph.D., an L.A.-based sexologist and author of NeuroLoveology: The Power To Mindful Love & Sex; Hilda Hutcherson, M.D., Clinical Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Columbia University Medical Center and author of Pleasure: A Woman’s Guide to Getting the Sex You Want, Need, and Deserve; Darius A. Paduch, M.D., Ph.D., Director Sexual Health and Medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College