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Decrease in your sex drive? There are myriad reasons why your desire to get down may be slowing down, says Madeleine Castellanos, M.D., sex expert and author of Wanting to Want: What Kills Your Sex Life and How to Keep It Alive, and many of them include unintentionally sabotaging it yourself. Here are seven ways you might be, and how you can get back on a sexy track.
1. You're taking the wrong birth control pill.
By now you know that the pill works to prevent pregnancy, and it does so with a cocktail of hormones that stop ovulation. But those same hormones can upset your already delicate hormone balance, "which affects everything from her moods, to her sex drive, to who she finds attractive," Castellanos warns. "Some women find that their libido crashes and they have a difficult time getting back that same intense sensation that they had before they started the pill." If you've recently begun taking the pill and experienced a dip in your sex drive, it could be time to talk to your doctor about making a switch to a different formula or another kind of birth control.
2. You think something is wrong with your body.
According to Gloria Brame, Ph.D., sexologist and author of The Truth About Sex: A Sex Primer For The 21st Century, shame over our sexuality and our bodies can impair our ability to experience pleasure. For example, "women who worry their vaginas are smelly or otherwise unpleasant can sabotage their potential for pleasure in bed by rejecting oral sex or preventing their partners from spending time on the foreplay, which would help them receive more joy," she says. "Learning to love your body is key to enjoying all the pleasure it can bring you."
3. Your body is in survival mode.
"If you are routinely stressed out at work, find that you have no time to work out, and stay up late answering emails or watching Netflix, that may be enough to throw the body into survival mode," says Castellanos. And there's no room for sex when you're in survival mode. "Once this happens, the body tries to keep its resources by slowing down your metabolism, takes your muscle mass but keeps fat tissue, and decreases your sex hormones so that you can rest. Too often people take for granted that their body can adjust and compensate for this, until they crash." Get your body and libido back on track by finding time for some serious R&R.
4. You can't admit there's a problem.
The first way to fix any problem is admitting one exists. Yet Brame says some women endure vaginal pain, dryness, discomfort, or dulled sensation — whether from childbirth or medications — without ever acknowledging it. "These are common issues," she says, "but women are often too embarrassed to tell their doctors, who might have safe remedies." If you're experiencing anything less than pleasure before or during sex, consider consulting with your doctor.
5. You're vitamin deficient.
Popping daily vitamins won't just keep the common cold at bay. Your testosterone and estrogen levels depend on your diet, says Castellanos, "and another common cause of fizzling sex drive is depriving the body of the necessary building blocks and nutritional factors to carry out its complex processes." Vitamin B, Zinc, Selenium, and Vitamin D are all essential for proper hormone production, so make sure you're getting enough of each. Plus, Castellanos adds, "remember that alcohol, sugar, and simple carbohydrates all increase the stress on the body and deplete the body of these much-needed vitamins and minerals."
6. You think sex is the least important aspect of your marriage.
According to Brame, "the No. 1 way women sabotage their sex drives is scheduling everything down to their toilet-paper buying and yet never planning time for sex." Instead of scheduling sex, women often wait for the mood to strike, "which is a sure way for busy career women and moms to relegate sex to the bottom of their to-do lists," Brame says. "I tell clients to add sexy time to their e-calendars, and base it on the preferences they had before their lives got so busy. So, if they used to like sex two to three times a week, they should try to stick to it, even if there's only time for quickies. Some sex is better than no sex, and quickies keep the intimacy and most importantly the habit of making sex a priority in a marriage."
7. You're comparing yourself to others.
Whether it's your BFF dishing the details of her most recent hookup or the steamy new miniseries you just started streaming, seeing how other people's sex lives work can make you think yours is somehow lacking. "I have seen so many women wonder why they don't get aroused as quickly as they think they should, and I have to ask what has shaped their expectations about what is normal in sexual behavior and response," says Castellanos. Not everyone can get turned on as quickly as a TV star. "For most women, a combination of both psychological and physical arousal is what enhances their sexual experience and helps drive their desire," she says.