Animal Instincts - Top Tips for Increasing Sex Drive

A lack of sex drive is a common encounter which affects almost 1 in 5 men at some point in their lifetime.

Whilst, everyone's different and there's no such thing as a "normal" libido, many men, especially those in long-term relationships and older in age, suffer from temporary, periodic falls in libido.

If you've lost your sex drive and are wondering how to get it back, we’ve put together our 10 essential steps below. There’s a lot you can do.

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  1. Get enough sleep

Quality of sleep can have a huge influence on sexual desire. Getting a good night's sleep improves a person’s overall mood and energy levels which is is good for sex drive. Good sleep also wards off the symptoms of sleep deprivation.

Indeed, a lack of sleep can lead to stress and anxiety. When the body becomes stressed because of sleep difficulties, the brain suppresses the production of sex hormones like testosterone in favour of stress hormones like cortisol. This shift in hormone levels can lead to decreased sex drive and erectile dysfunction.

A study carried out with a group of young men found that sleeping fewer than 5 hours per night reduced testosterone levels by 10–15%. The clinical guidance is that adults need between 7 and 9 hours sleep per night to be working and functioning normally.

  1. Check your mental health

Your psychological state is a hugely important contributory factor to your sex drive. Your psychological state may be impacted by everyday activities such as workload, or medical conditions such as depression.

Psychological impotence is a term used to describe erectile dysfunction induced by psychological triggers. Anxiety, low self-esteem and guilt are common causes of erectile dysfunction.

In order to increase sex drive, the underlying mental health concerns need to be addressed. For example, if stress is the cause, then a reduced workload or relaxation techniques may work well. If depression is deemed the cause, then sharing any problems with friends or family, or counselling, may help.

  1. Address erectile dysfunction

Struggles with erectile dysfunction can reduce your libido by impacting your self confidence and making you want to avoid the bedroom. If this is the case, getting treatment for erectile dysfunction may help boost your sex drive.

Treatment for erectile dysfunction is taken by millions of men in the UK. Most treatments take the form of phosphodiesterase (PDE) inhibitors which address erectile dysfunction by increasing blood flow to the penis during sexual stimulation.

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  1. Regular exercise

Almost all regular moderate exercise is great for your overall health and wellbeing, and this includes your sex drive.

The effects of exercise on your sex drive relate to both the body and mind.

Erections are all about bloodflow, and regular exercise improves your heart health and blood circulation, essential for you to achieve and maintain a strong erection during sex.

Exercise also causes your body to produce endorphins which are referred to as happy hormones. Endorphins are mood lifters which create positive feelings, great for putting you in the mood.

This mood lift can be substantial enough to offset negative psychological impulses, such as anxiety and low self-esteem, which lower libido.

  1. Nurture Your Relationship

At the end of the day, sexual desire is a basic instinct that needs some form of stimulation. Many people experience a lull in sexual desire and frequency at certain points in a relationship.

The necessary stimulation can be lacking if you’re not happy in your relationship or its lost its fizz, through for example, becoming overfamiliar with your partner and the loss of sexual attraction.

If you think the underlying relationship may be constraining your libido then it’s time to improve communication and spice thinks up. Try setting time aside quality time with each other, planning date nights, and doing activities together outside of the bedroom.

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  1. Healthy eating

Healthy erections are all about the cardiovascular system and bloodflow to the penis. Keeping the circulatory system in good working order is essential for sexual health.

Like regular exercise, eating a nutritious balanced diet is important for your heart health.Stick to the traditional guidance of a diet rich in fruit, vegetables and whole grains.

For a sex-drive pick-me-up, you want to aim for foods that include minerals and vitamins that are linked to men’s sexual health, such as zinc and vitamins B and D.

Aphrodisiacs, or specific libido-enhancing foods, are known to include figs, bananas and avocados.

  1. Testosterone levels

Testosterone isn't the only fuel responsible for a man's sex drive, but it is the hormone most closely associated with it.

A lack of sex drive and erectile dysfunction are sexual problems that can result from low testosterone levels. A deficiency of testosterone is referred to as 'hypogonadism'.

Testosterone is mainly produced in the testicles (responsible for sperm production). Testosterone levels are highest in our teens and 20s and thereafter levels decline as we age. Testosterone production tends to be higher in the morning and lower at night.

A consultation with your doctor will help determine whether your testosterone levels are too low. If this is the case, treating it with testosterone supplements can help. Foods that contain zinc, vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids are rich sources of testosterone.

  1. Spice things up

In life, if we do the same things repetitively for long periods, it can get very dull. Think about doing the same job for many years or watching the same TV shows. 

Sex is no different. If you’ve been with your partner for a long time and things have gotten a bit predictable in the bedroom, this can make you both feel less than enthusiastic about sex.

The way out of the malaise is to try new things together. This could be experimenting with different positions and sex toys, or taking up new hobbies or activities together outside of the bedroom.

  1. Quit smoking and reduce alcohol intake

As you would expect, numerous studies have shown that smoking regularly is linked to a negative impact on various aspects of men’s sexual health. Smoking is generally bad for cardiovascular health (including the heart) which is important for good sexual functioning.

The impacts of smoking include reduced libido, or lower sex drive, as well as erectile dysfunction and lower fertility. If you can muster the willpower to give up smoking, you should expect to see sexual health benefits in the short-to-medium term.

Similarly, scaling back the amount of alcohol you drink may help increase your sex drive. Scientific studies have demonstrated that alcohol consumption can reduce testosterone levels in men, which accordingly has a detrimental impact on sex drive. Government advice is to drink no more than 14 alcohol units a week on a regular basis.

  1. Seek medical advice from a GP or specialist

A low sex drive can be indicative of an underlying medical condition that needs treatment, whilst a sudden drop in sex drive is sometimes encountered after having surgery or starting a new medication. 

Conditions associated with sexual dysfunction include heart disease, diabetes, other causes of high blood pressure, an under-active thyroid (thyroid gland does not produce enough hormones) and some types of cancer.

If you think that either of these circumstances may apply you should reach out to a GP or specialist.

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Written by Mike Firth, GP and Medical Director

This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment.