Welcome to Ask Anka, a weekly column in which sex therapist Anka Radakovich dives deep into your most intimate issues with advice and tips to help you live your best sex life. Have a question for Anka? Drop us a DM (no fear, we'll keep it anonymous) on Instagram @Brides
How do I increase my libido? I only get into it half the time...
There are many reasons for low libido and many solutions. Reasons range from the psychological (feeling self conscious, being angry with your partner) to the physical (medications you are taking or physical changes such as vaginal dryness). Solutions can range from switching up your medications to lubing it up downtown.
In the case of body image, always remember that when your partner is having sex with you, they are looking at things that turn them on, and they are not focusing on your physical imperfections like you are. And if you're mad at each other, wait until you are both relaxed and can discuss the problem, so you can resolve it, and then hopefully have the best make-up sex!
Sexual Medicine to the Rescue
Dr. Lauren Streicher, one of the top gynecologists in the country, and the Medical Director of Northwestern University’s Center for Sexual Medicine says, “When a young woman comes into my office and says she has low libido, my first question is what has changed? The other question she says you have to ask yourself is 'Why don’t you want to have sex?'”
Dr. Streicher tells BRIDES there are many reasons you may not want to get intimate, but one could have to do with the use of antidepressants. SSRI’s or “Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors” can knock out a woman’s libido; Prozac and Paxil can be libido killers. The solution? Speak to your doctor about alternative medications that may have less effect on your sex drive.
Birth control pills can also affect libido, as well as lack of sleep, or feeling constantly stressed out. About 10% of the female population also experiences “HSDD” or “Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder.” Streicher explains there are non-hormonal drugs that have helped 46%-60% of women get their groove back, so reach out to your doctor to see if they would be a good fit for you.
Not in the Mood for Love? Erotica Might Help Bring It
If you find yourself just “not in the mood,” it also could be you’re not thinking about sexual pleasure enough. One way to get all hot and bothered (that isn't the tired recommendation to just "use foreplay") is to read erotica! It’s simply the literary equivalent of porn, and it tends to be more female-pleasure focused than traditional porn.
Erotica takes the “romance novel” one step further by adding some steamy sex scenes, such as this one from Cleis Press—which has an amazing collection of erotic novels: “We kiss each other slowly and the only thing I know is that I don’t want to stop. His hands and mouth glide over my belly, hips, and thighs. Between the licks and touches I’m almost out of my mind. He strokes slowly, so slowly, making his way toward my aching…”
The founders of Sunsette, an erotic app, believe that “reading erotica is a great way to increase arousal. It turns out that when you read,” adding, “your imagination customizes the story to your own experience, which for many people is the best way to access arousal (rather than watching a scripted scene online, for example).”
And science agrees. In a study published in the Journal of Sex Research, it measured sexual arousal physiologically by means of a “vaginal photoplethysmograph” (our new favorite word). It found that reading “sex related stories that were either erotically realistic or classified as “hard core pornography” produced sexual arousal.
It’s totally fun to read erotica, and the next thing you know you start reading it and start feeling some tingle down under. (Go ahead and try not to be aroused by this: “He alternates long, slow strokes with quick flicks until I’m gripping his hair and arching off the carpet like I’m electrified. Woman, he goes You’re killing me. He goes deeper, and I can only whisper Oh My God.”)
See more: 6 Natural Ways to Boost Libido
Anka Radakovich is a couple’s counselor, certified sexologist, and sex therapist. Follow her on Twitter @ankarad.