There is no way to measure libido, which means there is no way to quantify a normal libido, high libido, or low libido. Still, you can tell when your libido has gone MIA. If that’s you, fear not: it hasn’t disappeared forever, it’s likely just on a little hiatus.
Let’s dive into the most common reasons people’s libidos lull.
What’s the short answer?
The truth is that anything that impacts us as individuals has the capacity to impact our libido.
So, if you are doing anything that has the ability to alter your mental, emotional, physical, or spiritual wellbeing, it has the ability to boost or lower your libido, too.
The most common libido modulators include:
- Sleep and sleep hygiene
- Hormone health
- Overall health
- Stress levels
- Relationship happiness (or lack thereof)
- Food, drink, alcohol, and drug intake
- Previous sexual experiences
Let’s break it down.
1. Hormonal health
Estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone are the main hormone modulators of sex drive. When any of those shift, you may notice a lull or spike in your libido.
To be clear: A shift in these hormones isn’t necessarily a problem. These hormones naturally ebb and flow — and are impacted by your menstrual cycle. Pregnancy, breastfeeding, and menopause also lead to shifts in these hormones. In other words, it’s totally normal to have a high sex drive and a low sex drive time of the month. It’s also normal for certain phases of life (like breastfeeding, pregnancy, and menopause) to impact your sex drive.
But here’s where it gets tricky: the entire endocrine system is connected. So if any of your other hormones fluctuate, it can cause your estrogen, progesterone, and/or testosterone levels to shift. And when that happens? Yep, you guessed it, libidinal changes.
Common things that cause hormone fluctuations that indirectly impact your libido include:
- Chronic stress
- Thyroid, adrenal, or pituitary gland disease or disorder
- Exposure to toxins
What you can do
If your libido has been different than usual, talk to your healthcare provider. They’ll be able to help you identify if libidinal changes are common amongst people with your health conditions. They’ll also be able to run the necessary tests to determine any irregular hormone levels.
2. Stress levels
Hands down, the thing that has the largest impact on libido is your stress level. For the majority of people, there is an inverse relationship between their stress and sex drive — the higher their stress level, the lower their libido. But that’s not always the case! Some people crave sex when they are more stressed, due to the stress-relieving perks of orgasm and physical intimacy.
As it goes, survival stress is even more a modulator compared to routine stress. Survival stress is the kind of stress that tells you that you are in danger of nor surviving. (Financial stress typically falls into this camp).
What you can do
Start taking inventory of your stress level. You probably already have a good sense of how stressed you are, but take time to get specific about where that stress is coming from. Is it family stress? Financial stress? Relationship stress? Other? The answer here will help you identify where you need to devote your stress-relieving efforts.
Unfortunately, most of these issues don’t have an easy fix and troubleshooting often requires consistency and intention. Still, implementing stress-relieving tactics like meditating, moving, sleeping, journaling, and laughing can all help improve overall wellbeing, and therefore the wellbeing of your libido.
3. Lifestyle choices
Anything you put in your body or put your body through is going to have some impact on your libido. And no, we’re not just talking about aphrodisiacs.
The short of it is that food that nourishes your body is going to have a nourishing effect on your libido. Food that makes you feel good in your body is more likely to have a positive impact on your libido than foods that make you feel blah. Your libido will also take a hit if alcohol and drugs make a regular appearance in your routine. Unsurprisingly, toxins have a toxic impact on your libido, too.
Finally, how often you exercise, the intensity of that exercise, and your exercise recovery protocols all matter. There is more nuance here than in other lifestyle factors, but as a general rule the more robust your exercise routine is, the more robust your libido will be.
What you can do
The good news is that you can address all these issues. If, for example, your alcohol intake is the problem. You’d probably benefit from cutting back on booze, either with the help of your close-knit support system or an organized outline like AA. If, however, you’re looking to boost your fitness routine, you might consider investing in a fitness app or finding a friend to commit to a regular exercise routine with you.
To help you figure out what your next step should be, ask yourself the following questions:
- What is the lifestyle factor that I most need to shift?
- What is one kind of small change I can commit to right now?
- What kind of support do I need to invest in or seek out in order to make the change? .
- Is there a way to incorporate my partner into this process?
Reviewed by the Ovia Health Clinical Team