Dr. Rachael Ross
The biggest sexual complaint that I get from my patients is “I just don’t feel like doing it. What’s wrong with me?” If you have suffered in silence, just know that you are not alone. The stereotype exists that this dialogue comes most often from women, but honestly, I get this complaint from both sexes.
Things have gotten even tougher, now you have had to sprinkle your sex drive with COVID restrictions, quarantine, no real away time from the kids, and/or no real away time from your partner. Suddenly you have an even greater recipe for loss of libido, vaginal dryness, and erectile dysfunction.
Sex is one of those things that after a years together, couples have a tendency to put on it on the back burner to focus on the friendship, business, the partnership at hand, and/or the kids. Perhaps you are the other half of one of these relationships. You may post on social media about your ‘best friend,’ or your ‘life partner,’ but I ask you one crucial questions: In all of the years of your life, when have you ever daydreamed about wanting to f*ck your best friend’s brains out?
Sure, there are some of us who had the hot bestie and lusted after them throughout life, but that’s a different conversation. In that scenario it’s usually an unrequited love. We can debate about this some other time, but the answer is likely, ‘Never!’ Passion is not set up that way. Once most people are put in the friend zone, they usually stay there unless extreme circumstances occur. Dopamine, the passion hormone, surges when there’s mystery, butterflies, anticipation, and newness. Routine, predictive outcomes, and same-ol-sames all manage to smother passion.
Finding passion and sex is easy when it’s with someone you barely know because you can pretend to be anyone. You can send witty messages, flirt without feeling funny, and their excitement fuels your excitement. However, sex can become complicated when it comes to doing it with a life partner, because they know you. After some years in, it’s hard to put on a loin cloth and become Thor or stilettos to transform into Mistress Damiana when all of the mystery has gone. It’s actually even difficult for you to appreciate your partner doing those things because you know so much about them. In your mind, the scene plays out more like an SNL episode and less like a scene out of an erotic novel.
But before you give up on what was or what could’ve been, let me give you some sex drive hacks to help you get back on track. These tips will help you have more sex in 2021.
1) Just do it.
Having sex just once a week is associated with reduced stress, improved immune function, lowered blood pressure, greater levels of intimacy, and a lowered divorce rate. Imagine, all of these benefits arrise from a dedicated hour a week! Compare sex to the working out. You know that if you just exercise a few times a week, you will look and feel better. A 2015 studyfound that relationship satisfaction went up dramatically when couples went from not having sex at all, to having sex once a week.
2) Remove as many environmental toxins from your home as possible.
This can be a difficult task, but there are a few things that you can do to make your environment healthier. Environmental toxins contain endocrine disruptors that interfere with hormone levels.
- Avoid buying clothing and home items that have been treated with flame retardant. Organophosphate FRs (OPFRs) are toxic to nerve function and are known to disrupt hormones.
- Sleep with your mobile phone in a drawer or cabinet as RF waves have been shown to interfere with hormones.
- Remove plastic products and non-stick cookware from the home as toxins leach from these products into your food items.
- Drink filtered water
- Eat the rainbow and include in your diet a variety of different vegetable colors. Some veggies like kale, broccoli, and cauliflower fall into the category of being goitrogens and they can interfere with hormone production if eaten in excess.
- Buy organic when you can. In men, pesticides have been thought to cause ED, low testosterone, and infertility. In women, they also cause major hormone disruptions.
- Cut the sugar as too much sugar can lead to insulin resistance and altered hormone production.
- Check the labels your personal care products and throw out anything with parabens in it. Parabens are toxic and they imitate estrogen in the body. They disrupt hormones and also put you at an increased risk for various cancers.
3) Integrate sex back into the relationship at your own pace.
Work together to first become intimate without the expectation of sex. For a week, spend quality time flirting, caressing, stroking, and kissing in a non-sexual way. This will build intimacy and help you to reconnect. Make a pact to stay away from the sexual parts of the body for the whole week (breasts, nipples, vagina, penis, and anus). After you explore and find comfort with each other’s bodies and with yourselves, then you can reintroduce sex into the relationship.
4) During your physical, ask your physician to order a complete hormonal panel.
There is more to your sex drive than just estrogen and testosterone. If things have gotten to the point where you no longer feel like yourself, in addition to basic labs testing, you need lab work to also evaluate your thyroid, your adrenal glands, and the neurotransmitters that are associated with sex like serotonin and dopamine.
5) Invest in a good vibrator or a quality sleeve, and masturbate.
It has been well documented that people who masturbate have a more active sex life. Touching yourself reminds you that there’s a fire down there. If you don’t use it, your genitals will become less sensitive down there and important tissues will lose the elasticity and the blood flow. Men can lose their ability to attain an erection, and the clitoris can also go through a similar loss. Make yourself hard or wet periodically as part of maintaining healthy sexual function for years to come.
6) Don’t talk about it, be about it.
Too often one partner says, “ I try to have sex and he/she always says no.” However, when I really begin to probe, all he/she did was ask something like, ‘can we have sex tonight?’ When you want to have sex, instead of asking for it, initiate it. Take the time to set the mood, create the ambiance, and then come up from behind them and start kissing their neck while you press your pelvis against them. Whisper, ‘I just want to feel you. . .’ The action will turn you both on. Asking instead of doing will annoy and turn you both off when it comes to sex. Keep in mind that the body says, ‘No,’ less frequently than the brain and the mouth will.
Sex will never be the most important part of a long term relationship, but it will always function as a magnet of sorts. The magnetic allure of sex brings couples together in a way that nothing else will. Here’s to having more sex in 2021! Let me know if you need my help.
Dr, Rachael Ross, M.D., Ph.D., is a Board-Certified Family Medicine Physician and Clinical Sexologist. You can schedule an appointment with her by calling 310-451-8880 or emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org.