In this stressful age of widespread illness, home quarantines and economic distress, you may find your sex drive is lower than normal — or maybe nowhere to be found. After all, studies show that stress is notorious for killing libido, lowering not just how much sex we have but also how much satisfaction we derive from that sex. On the flipside, sex is a great stress reliever, so don’t give up on it just yet.
While school, travel and social gatherings may be canceled, sex is not, and we’ve gathered the best ways to reignite your sexual desire and figure out how to bring intimacy back into a relationship. From eating foods that instantly boost libido to taking CBD, here are some easy ways to add sexual pleasure back into your self-care routine.
Don’t Skimp on Sleep
In a study of sleep’s effects on sex, researchers found that longer sleep related to greater sexual desire. Specifically, each additional hour of sleep equated roughly to a 14% increase in sexual arousal. Both stress and insufficient sleep result in the release of cortisol, and cortisol decreases testosterone, which plays a major role in the sex drives of both men and women. By getting adequate sleep at night and mindfully managing your stress throughout the day, you can reduce sleep debt and feel relaxed and rested enough to regain interest in sex.
Stock Up on Avocados and Chocolate
Some foods are natural libido boosters, and if you’re a fan of avocado toast and dark chocolate, you’re in luck. Among ancient Aztecs, avocados were so widely known to incite sexual passion that virgins were not allowed to leave home during harvest. According to Penn Medicine, the libido-boosting magic of avocados lies in their rich nutrient profile of vitamin B6, which can decrease irritability, and monosaturated fat, which improves blood flow. Similarly, chocolate increases blood flow and also contains the feel-good chemicals serotonin and dopamine, which can help ease us into more pleasurable sexual experiences.
Other libido-boosting foods include:
Make Room for Foreplay
According to sex therapist Stephanie Buehler at California’s Hoag for Her Center for Wellness, 15 to 20 minutes of foreplay is crucial for building sex drive. Not only does it help partners feel more connected to one another, but foreplay also aids lubrication, which makes sex feel more enjoyable. While foreplay may consist of anything that feels good, from a sensual massage to kissing, there are a range of ways to get creative with foreplay. These include:
- Dirty talk
- Acting out a fantasy
- Watching porn together
- Having sex outside the bedroom
Talk to Your Partner
Having a low libido can take a toll on a relationship, especially if one partner wants more sex than the other. “The myths associated with sex drive can often lead to confusion, frustration, and hurt feelings within the relationship,” says Rachel O’Neill, Ph.D.
Her solution? Open communication. “First, let go of the idea of sex drive,” instructs O’Neill. “Next, work on ways to feel comfortable communicating with your partner about your sexual desire. Work as a team to determine how to cultivate a sense of excitement, enthusiasm and mutual empowerment related to sexual exploration.” You may just find that stronger communication leads to a stronger sex drive.
In a 2018 study published in Remedy Review, 64% of people surveyed said they use CBD for sex as a way to relax. CBD interacts with the body’s endocannabinoid system, a network of receptors that regulate the nervous system, the immune system and the body’s organs. When those receptors are activated by CBD, anxiety and stress are both minimized, paving the way to better sex. CBD has also been shown to increase lubrication and blood flow, which may result in a more pleasurable experience for the 30% of women who experience pain during sex. And even more, CBD has positive effects on our sleep, helping us feel better rested for better sex.
Erica Garza is an author and essayist from Los Angeles. Her writing has appeared in TIME, Health, Glamour, Good Housekeeping, Women’s Health, and VICE.