Here today, gone tomorrow—your libido can be puzzling, to say the least. But that ebb and flow is completely natural. All women go through periods when they feel especially frisky, as well as times when they just seem to have lost their mojo. Read on to learn about the many reasons your libido may come and go, and how to find it when you miss it.
A 2010 study showed that as a woman’s fertility wanes in her 30s and 40s, her sexual fantasies become more frequent and steamier (!) and her sex drive becomes stronger overall. Researchers suspect it’s an evolutionary trick, designed to up your odds of procreating by encouraging you to do the deed more often.
Life circumstances play a role, too. For example, you’re more comfortable with your partner and less worried about contraception. Of course, there’s also the confidence that comes with age: A large 2015 survey discovered that most women who find sex more pleasurable as they get older credit their improved body image. After all, there’s nothing like feeling sexy to put you in the mood.
Some medications can affect sex drive
Some meds can make your sex drive take a nosedive. If you suspect that any of these drugs are to blame, ask your doctor about switching to an alternative.
Birth control pills: They lower levels of active estrogen and testosterone. Progestin-only pills and IUDs are just as effective at preventing pregnancy and don’t tamp down libido.
SSRIS: These antidepressants are known libido busters, but a different type of drug—bupropion—is less likely to affect sex drive.
Blood pressure meds: In a French study, 41 percent of postmenopausal women taking these drugs reported lowered sexual desire. Beta-blockers, often used to treat hypertension, are common culprits. You may want to consider trying valsartan, another type of blood pressure med that has actually been shown to boost libido.
Antihistamines: These drugs tend to dry out mucus-producing cells everywhere in the body, including the vagina. But the side effect is less common with second-generation antihistamines (like Zyrtec and Claritin). There are non drug allergy treatments as well, such as immunotherapy shots and pills.
The pink pill has perks—and risks
Last year, the FDA approved Addyi, the first-ever Rx sex drug for women. Unlike its male counterpart, Viagra, which works by improving blood flow to the genital region, Addyi is thought to boost desire by altering the balance of neurotransmitters (like serotonin and dopamine) in a woman’s brain.
Alas, the daily pill, approved for premenopausal women, has a range of unsexy possible side effects—including nausea, dizziness, and sleepiness—and alcohol isn’t allowed while you’re on it. For postmenopausal women, there are other options that may help increase libido, such as Rx testosterone cream (taken off-label) or hormone therapy.
Stress kills your sex drive
Lab research has shown that women experiencing stress, as evidenced by increased cortisol, have less response to erotic cues. Stress is a tremendous distracter. It takes away from your ability to focus and be fully present. But distraction isn’t the only factor. Tension can take a toll on a relationship, too.
It’s not surprising that a Monmouth University study found that couples placed in stressful situations behaved more poorly to each other. Disdain and anger are definitely not aphrodisiacs. Stress can also prevent you from sleeping enough, leaving you too pooped to get busy. The good news: A 2015 study revealed that just one extra hour of shut-eye a night leads to a 14 percent boost in libido.
Clinical studies have shown that women over the age of 40 begin to experience mild to moderate vaginal laxity with age. Other factors such as childbirth can exacerbate this, leading to decreased sensation and pleasure during intercourse.
Intima Touch is a painless 30-minute lunchtime procedure that stimulates the natural collagen production of vaginal tissues, restoring its innate elasticity and suppleness. Women who have undergone this hail this as a savior for their postpartum blues, and other intimate woes. While a series of three sessions are reported to give optimal results, women who have undergone this procedure say that they experience a noticeable increase in tightness even after one session.