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Sexual Wellness

What is Libido? 5 Natural Ways to Boost Your Libido

Fact Checked

Libido, sexual desire, and sex drive are interchangeable terms that are determined by your biology and experience.

Last Updated: 11/15/2021

Written by

James Lang

Medically Reviewed by

Dr. Paul Thompson

Libido, sexual desire, and sex drive are interchangeable terms that are determined by your biology and experience. The same person can have a higher or lower sex drive depending on their hormone levels, stress, mental health, alcohol and other substance use, and physical health. 

The increased stress, anxiety, and depression we’re experiencing as a result of the pandemic do not make for a healthy libido. In fact, in a recent Kinsey Institute study, more than two out of five people reported a decrease in the quality of their sex life since the start of shelter-in-place.

5 Natural Ways to Boost Your Libido

Your libido can be affected by underlying medical conditions like high blood pressure, arthritis, or diabetes as well as certain antidepressants and blood pressure medications. While these issues need to be addressed directly, there are also lifestyle changes that you can make to improve your libido. 

A decreased sex drive can cause relationship issues and psychological distress. If you’re struggling with a low sex drive, below are 5 natural ways to increase your sexual desire.  

Supplement With Saffron

Crocus sativus, or saffron, is made from the dried center of a flower. Extracting it is labor-intensive and expensive. Luckily, a small amount of saffron goes a long way. 

Used in the ancient baths of Rome, saffron has a rich cultural and medicinal history and is known to have aphrodisiac properties

Saffron has been shown to boost libido, improve erectile function, and even satisfaction with sex. If your decrease in sexual desire stems from antidepressant medications, saffron supplementation has also been shown to counteract this side effect.  

Practice Mindfulness of Pleasure

In addition to decreasing stress, which is known to reduce libido, the practice of mindfulness has been shown to increase sexual desire and has the potential to treat situational erectile dysfunction.  

When you think about meditation and mindfulness, you might think about focusing on your breath. As you breathe in and out, you continually and gently bring your mind back to your breath as it wanders off to your to-do list, dinner plans, or big project at work. 

Instead of your breath, you can also try focusing on pleasurable feelings in your body for 10-15 minutes each day. For example, bring your attention to an area of your body that is relaxed or resting against something. You might focus on the breeze on your skin or a sensation linked to a positive emotion like feeling excited or proud. 

Get Enough Shut-Eye

Getting enough sleep improves every domain of your health and wellbeing, including your sex drive. Sufficient sleep has been shown to increase sexual desire while sleep deprivation and fatigue have been linked to erectile dysfunction, anxiety, depression, relationship conflict, and poor sexual health.  

On the flip side, sex can improve your sleep by inducing the release of hormones like oxytocin and prolactin that help you relax. 

Other ways to improve your sleep and develop good sleep hygiene include minimizing noise and light in the bedroom, limiting activities in your bed to sleep and sex, waking up at the same time every day, avoiding heavy meals within two hours of sleep, exercising daily, and using relaxation techniques. 

Communicate With Your Partner

Poor communication limits intimacy and satisfaction. While it might not feel immediately natural to talk about sex, and you might even experience insecurity and shame, learning to communicate about your sexual needs and desires can have a significant positive impact on your libido. 

Talking openly about sex with your partner can also make sex–and your relationship–more satisfying. Pro tip: if you’re not used to this, start by talking about sex at a time when you aren’t having it. 

Think of it as an ongoing conversation and consider particular prompts to help facilitate the discussion such as the things I love about our sex life are… and, some things I’d like to explore sexually involve…or, my sexual fantasies include...

Try to incorporate gratitude into the conversation. It has been shown to increase sexual satisfaction for both partners. You can do this by appreciating what is going well, including any kind of intimacy that you currently share that feels good.   

Seek Professional Help

Low self-esteem, poor body image, and a lack of confidence can wreak havoc on your emotional and sexual health. When you feel undesirable or unattractive, you can get stuck in your head which negatively affects your libido.

Therapy can help address your self-esteem issues so that you feel more comfortable in your skin, which in turn can improve your sex drive. In fact, the concept of libido was developed by the famous psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud at the turn of the century. 

According to Freud, libido represents sexual energy as well as all psychic energy, and psychoanalysis allows a person to bring unconscious urges stemming from their libido into their conscious awareness so that they can deal with them. 

There are many schools of thought when it comes to therapeutic support. You can see a Freudian analyst, a sex therapist, a life coach, or any kind of therapist who appeals to you. When it comes to outcomes, your comfort level and connection to your therapist are more important than their training or a particular type of practice. 

5 FAQs on the Topic of Libido

Exploring issues with your sex drive is not an everyday conversation topic for most of us. Many people find themselves curious to know more but too shy to ask. We’re here to help by answering some of the most commonly asked questions about male libidos. 

1. What is a normal libido? 

There is no such thing as a normal libido. What is normal is for your libido to fluctuate depending on physical and environmental factors. 

While there is no set standard for all people, signs of a decreased libido include limited interest in sexual activity and masturbation as well as a lack of sexual fantasies. If your libido is persistently low for at least 6 months and it’s causing you distress, it’s possible that you have male hypoactive sexual desire disorder (MHSDD). There are several potential causes for MHSDD and several treatments are available. 

2. Is it possible for my libido to be too high? 

There is no exact or measurable definition of an overly high libido. Less common than a low sex drive, the main way to tell if your libido is too high is whether it negatively impacts your relationships, work, and life. 

While there is not an agreed upon term or set of symptoms to describe an overly high libido and controversy around labeling sexual behavior as compulsive or an addiction, you’re the best person to know if your sex drive is a hindrance.  

3. What is the difference between libido and sexual arousal? 

While libido and sexual arousal are related, think of libido as what happens in your mind, like a lack of interest in sex, while sexual arousal is about what happens in your body, like getting an erection. Libido and sexual arousal often go hand-in-hand, if you can’t get it up, you may lose your sex drive, and vice versa. 

But that’s not always the case. It’s possible to get turned on and not be able to get an erection or to get aroused physically while not being in the mood mentally. 

4. How does testosterone factor into a man’s libido? 

Testosterone is a sex hormone that aids in the body’s creation of muscle mass, encourages bone growth, and supports sperm production. Testosterone levels are also directly related to the sex drive of both males and females. 

While it’s normal for male testosterone levels to fluctuate, and to go down with age, if your testosterone levels drop too low this can cause a decrease in your libido. Testosterone replacement therapy has been shown to increase libido among certain men although it is not without risks.      

5. What if my libido doesn’t match my partner’s? 

It’s not the end of the world if your libido is not at the same level as your partner’s. Be open and communicate with one another while trying not to take the other person’s sex drive personally. 

Each of us is unique and has different needs. As long as you both keep in mind that there is no ideal libido, you can find ways to compromise, explore non-sexual intimacy, and meet in the middle so that both partners feel taken care of.