Is your sex drive suffering, but you don't have stress or anything else to blame? These lesser-known culprits could be wreaking havoc on your sex life
What's Messing with Your Sex Drive?
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Blame it on the stress of your job or moving from the honeymoon stage of your relationship to the this-is-serious part, but sometimes, your sex drive just isn't as high as it once was. And hey, it's normal—sex drives change over time for all sorts of reasons you've probably heard of. But are there things you're doing that you don't even think about that can actually cause your libido to take a hit?
We talked to relationship and sex expert Dr. Kat Van Kirk to find out the not-so-well-known culprits that could cause your sex drive to dwindle. The good news? These libido-downers are (mostly) easy to resolve.
Your Cup(s) of Coffee
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Do you ever get excited for your morning brew before you even fall asleep at night? While your a.m. caffeine kick might be more appealing to you than a quickie, Dr. Kirk says too much coffee can make a sexy romp even less likely. "Caffeine from a cup or two of coffee a day may give you a bit of an energy boost, but regular over-consumption of caffeine can cause trouble in the bedroom," she says. "Too much caffeine causes your adrenal glands over-function and release stress hormones in your brain that can inhibit sexual desire and function." Dr. Kirk recommends one 8-ounce serving of coffee each day to keep your libido healthy, and—while it might be a hard thing to kick—a gradual decline in your roasted brew may make your sex life steamier.
You're Putting Yourself Down
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Quick: Think about the last five things you've thought to yourself when you last looked in the mirror. The way you talk to yourself, compare your body to others, and generally examine (to infinite detail) how you look can cause you to lose interest in sex. "How you feel about yourself has everything to do with how you desire sex," Dr. Kirk says. She adds that many women experience 'spectatoring' while having sex, which means that you're so caught up with judging how you look and act during sex that you can't orgasm or enjoy the moment. "Not only can this poor body image dampen your desire, but it can make you reluctant to have sex in the future," she says.
While you might be hyper-focused on imperfections, Kirk says most men don't think twice about a misplaced freckle, a little roll of fat, or cellulite—they're too captivated by you and your moves. So the next time you're starting to think about what's wrong with you, shift the focus to your partner and consider all the things that make you turned on. (And read how Fat Shaming Could Be Destroying Your Body.)
Photo: Corbis Images
Your Birth Control—and Any Other Medication
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If you have the flu, you likely aren't that interested in foreplay—right? While it's totally normal to put off doing the dirty until after your illness has passed, any medication that you're on—from birth control to prescription acne medicine—could kill your sex drive. "Think about it: If it's drying your sinuses or skin out, it's also drying out other mucus membranes in your body," Kirk explains.
Everyone needs to take medications when they're not feeling well, but if your birth control continues to make you lose interest in get naked, talk to your gynecologist about switching up your dose or trying a non-hormonal alternative. Kirk also says that if medications are causing you to feel less wet but you're still horny, add lube to your routine to make things more interesting—and pleasurable.
Photo: Corbis Images
The Way He Smells
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When you first started dating, you likely loved that he left his scent on your pillow. Or maybe you buried yourself in his oversized sweatshirt, just to be comforted by his smell. Since it's the strongest sense tied to memory, those loving whiffs connected you to your partner and reminded you of the happy moments that made you fall in love. But as you continue to date, get married and have a long-term relationship, what once attracted you could actually turn you off.
"Research has shown that we tend to be attracted to people who have a totally different genetic make-up from ourselves in order to avoid mating too closely to our own family," Dr. Kirk says. "Our pheromones are good indicators of these desirable differences. But with age, our sense of smell not only declines but pheromones can change. This means that we may eventually not only have less interest in sex but in theory, not be as attracted to our partners as we once were." While you can't really fight genetics, Dr. Kirk says you can encourage your partner to try a new cologne that you find appealing, tricking your own nose into 'falling in a new love' with the same ol' love.
Photo: Corbis Images
The Carpet In Your House
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If you haven't quite been in the mood since moving into your fixer-upper house, there's a reason for that. Dr. Kirk says that since toxins were introduced into many household items, many scary things lurk in old homes and apartments. "They're really everywhere, from the chemicals in microwave popcorn, dyes in food, paper inks, vinyl product use, and carpet fiber," she says. "All of these chemicals that we either inhale or come into contact with our bodies can mess with our hormones." (P.S. Even Climate Change Could Be Killing Your Libido.)
The scariest part? Dr. Kirk says that environmental factors may account for lower testosterone and earlier onset erectile dysfunction in men. You can have a professional do a walk-through your house to test for chemicals and lower your intake of processed food to help fight these scary toxins and get your sex drive back.