The average person now has sex four times a month, compared with seven in 2008. And a third go a month without any bedroom action at all. Here's how to put that sizzle back
Glossy mags and TV soaps may give the impression the nation is constantly at it, but according to the British Sex Survey 2014, we’re getting jiggy significantly less than six years ago.
“A drop in sex drive isn’t always a problem,” says social psychologist Dr Petra Boynton, drpetra.co.uk. “Sex drive naturally fluctuates and if you’re happy having sex occasionally – or even not at all – that’s fine. But it can be a problem for couples when there are mismatched expectations.”
Want to lift your libido? Then follow our guide...
Just think of the health benefits sex provides
If you’ve gone off sex , it’s worth ¬rekindling an interest if only for the health benefits. “Orgasm stimulates production of the body’s natural killer cells, which fight infection, boost immunity and even offer some ¬protection against cancer,” says ¬psychotherapist Marisa Peer, author of You Can Be Younger.
“You also release oxytocin, dubbed the love hormone, which boosts mood, ¬alleviates stress and reinforces the bond between you and your partner.”
High levels of the stress hormone cortisol can lower sex drive, says the Society for Endocrinology. Set aside five minutes a day for relaxation. Try the Mental Health Foundation’s free podcasts at mentalhealth.org.uk.
Ditch the cigs
Smoking damages arteries, affecting circulation. It affects a man’s ability to get and maintain an erection and impedes men’s and women’s ability to orgasm, says Dr Michael Roizen, author of The Real Age Makeover.
“Studies have shown women who exercise frequently experience an increase in speed of arousal and ¬intensity of orgasms,” says Relate ¬counsellor and psychosexual therapist Denise Knowles.
Aim for at least five half-hour sessions a week of moderate exercise like brisk walking or three 25-minute sessions of vigorous aerobic exercise.
Sort your sleep out
Men who had less than five hours of sleep a night for a week had reduced levels of testosterone, the libido hormone, a study in Chicago found. Not enough zzzzs also makes men and women grumpy – not an aphrodisiac!
Keep a diary
“Record everything for a week – how much sleep you got, whether you exercised, what you ate, if you were stressed and how you and your partner got on. Then you can see what may be getting in the way,” says Dr Boynton.
If you’re rushed off your feet all day and flop in front of the TV every night, you may feel emotionally distanced from your partner, leading to a drop off in sex. “Think what would make your relationship more enjoyable, regardless of sex, then share that with your partner,” says Dr Boynton.
Love your body
Women who see themselves as ¬unattractive are more likely to report a drop in sexual desire with age, according to a study from Penn State University, US, on women aged from 35 to 55. So Dr Boynton says: “Concentrate on what you like about your body and remember that you’re almost certainly your own worst critic.”
Consider a quickie
Too busy? According to Marisa Peer, satisfying sex need only take 10 minutes. “Get out of your routine, try a different time of day, a different room, watch a sexy film or try role play,” she suggests. And don’t wait till you’re in the mood. “If you’re not interested to begin with, once you get started, the chances are you soon will be.”
Tone up down there
A third of new mums and half of ¬menopausal women have a weakened pelvic floor – the muscles that support the uterus, bladder and bowel. Besides leading to accidental urine leakage, it also reduces sexual sensation.
“Strengthening the pelvic floor improves blood flow, improving the intensity and frequency of orgasm,” says Barry Fowler, manufacturer of the Pelvic Toner.
Unresolved resentment can lead to sex problems, says Denise Knowles. “I often see couples where one partner doesn’t realise they’re withholding sex because they feel resentful about something – perhaps doing more than their share of the housework. Talking is key to addressing these issues.”
Check your meds
Certain medications, including some antidepressants and contraceptive pills, can affect libido. If you think this affects you, talk to your GP, who may be able to prescribe an alternative.
Have an MOT
If you’ve tried all these with no result, see your GP to rule out conditions that could affect your sex drive.
“Diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease all affect the circulatory system and can make erections more difficult in men and orgasm more difficult in women,” says Denise Knowles. “Underactive thyroid, ¬menopause, stress and depression can all lower libido,” she adds.