The 5 Worst Habits for Your Libido (And Some Better Alternatives)
In your fast-paced daily life, you may find sex taking a back seat to all of the other responsibilities competing for your limited time and attention. If this sounds familiar, you should know that itís important not to let your relationship with your mate fall by the wayside.
"Libido [the technical term for your sex drive] does change with age due to many factors, including hormones, experiences, desires, stress, and its role in the relationship," explains Kristie Overstreet, a mental health counselor and sex therapist with the Therapy Department in Jacksonville, Florida. But you donít have to give up on intimacy with your partner just because you arenít "in the mood" every night.
To fix an ailing sex life, Overstreet recommends you start by avoiding these five libido-killing habitsósome of which may surprise you. By replacing these tendencies with Overstreet's recommended alternatives, you should soon find yourself enjoying a better physical and emotional connection with your partner.
Bad Habit #1: Sleeping in the Same old Pajamas Every Night
"Itís impossible to improve a sexual connection when youíre covered in flannel from your neck to your toes," Overstreet points out. "No one should have to be uncomfortable; however, if you want to work on your connection with your partner, change it up every now and then."
The Fix: Consider investing in a sexy lace nightie or a more feminine pajama set. And if your partner doesn't seem to notice right away, don't despair! "Give him a few days of you changing it up. He will notice," she promises.
In addition, Overstreet suggests holding "Naked Night" once a week. On the designated night, both you and your partner will sleep in the nude. This can help spice up your sex life. ("Just be sure to have pajamas by the bed in case of emergency," Overstreet adds.)
Bad Habit #2: Unhealthy Eating
The food you eat can greatly affect your libido. For instance, "Eating carbohydrate-rich foods [including starches, sweets, and beer] can lead you to feel sluggish and bloated," says Overstreet. "These foods can be harder for the body to digest. These can also make you feel sleepy after eating because the body is working hard to digest them." The amount of food you eat matters, too: "The feeling of being overly full doesnít help anyoneís libido."
In addition, constipationówhich can be the result of a eating a lot of highly processed foods lacking in fiberócan be a real mood killer. "Who wants to act on any sexual desire when you feel bloated and uncomfortable?" Overstreet says.
The Fix: "Review your diet and the type of foods youíre eating," Overstreet advises. If you're suffering after a meal, "The best thing you can do is share with your partner that youíre not feeling great but you do want to spend quality time, so offer to take turns giving each other a massage or foot rub. This way you can still have touch and connection even when youíre not feeling well," she says.
Bad Habit #3: Drinking Excessively
You may enjoy a glass of wine or two at night and find it helps you relax and get in the mood for sex. But if you continue to drink, this can backfire and actually douse your sexual drive. "Alcohol is a depressant and will cause you to crash if you drink excessively. It can leave you feeling sluggish and disconnected from your body," Overstreet says.
The Fix: Whether youíre spending an evening out with your mate or enjoying a romantic drink at home by the fireplace, pay attention to how much alcohol you consume, and donít overdo it. Also be sure to eat as well as drink. And if you do plan to have more than one drink, pace yourself by having have a glass of water in between.
Bad Habit #4: Having a TV in Your Bedroom
While watching television before you fall asleep may be tempting, it can also get in the way of your sex life. After all, itís hard to get intimate when you're engrossed in the drama on screen rather than your real life romance. "There is never a good reason to have a TV in the bedroom," declares Overstreet. "Itís important to separate your relaxation and sleeping space from the rest of the house."
The Fix: "Reserve your bed for sleep, sex, and relaxing," and keep your television watching in the living room or your den. "This doesnít mean you canít have sex in other parts of the house," she adds, suggesting that people be adventurous. But wherever you do have sex, keep the TV off!
Bad Habit #5: Taking Your Partner for Granted
"Many women donít realize that the majority of men have a totally different perspective on sex than women do. For men, itís a physical act that serves to release stress and causes relaxation. For many women, sex is an emotional act that takes a while to get in the mood to be able to go through, and isnít very relaxing," Overstreet says. Many busy women donít really have a need for sex and it can easily get put last on the list of priorities in the relationship. "Remember, just because it isnít your need doesnít mean you can neglect it. You wouldnít neglect your kids or your job, so why neglect your partnerís needs?Ē
The Fix: Make an effort to see things from your mateís perspective and to open up the lines of communication, so you can try to find some common ground. "The majority of women need to have an emotional connection with their partner to feel desire. However, many men donít understand the need to nurture the emotional connection because it isnít their natural way of connecting with sex. I encourage women to share with their partners how they can better connect sexually," Overstreet says.
The Bottom Line
"Everything that affects your sex drive can impact your partnerís as well," Overstreet says. Many of these bad habitsóand so many othersócan be a turn-off to your partner. "Your partner may also have his own bad habits as well. It can greatly benefit the couple to talk about a plan to change these habits as a team. Approach these issues head-on together and youíll both reap the benefits."
Kristie Overstreet, LMHC, LPC, CST, CAP, reviewed this article.
Overstreet, Kristie, LMHC, LPC, CST, CAP. Email interview January 11, 2016.
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