If you don't feel like getting it on, you're not alone: "I see at least five or six patients a day who complain about decreased libido - it's a huge problem," says Mary Jane Minkin, MD, clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the Yale School of Medicine. "Many women are embarrassed to talk about it, but having a low sex drive is a legitimate issue that can be fixed." Often, it's a symptom of other issues you're working through in your relationship. However, these sneaky sex drive zappers can also be to blame. By Holly Corbett, REDBOOK.
Anti-Aphrodisiac: The Pill
"Testosterone has been linked with increased libido, and women with normal, natural menstrual cycles experience a small surge of testosterone right around ovulation when they're most fertile," says Dr. Minkin. Both types of birth control pills contain hormones - combination estrogen-progestin and progestin-only - which affect ovarian function, and can thus lower sex drive. If you're considering going off of the pill, discuss alternate, non-hormonal forms of birth control, such as an IUD, diaphragm and condoms, with your doctor.
Anti-Aphrodisiac: Allergy Meds
"Antihistamines such as Benadryl can dry out your vagina as well as your sinuses," says Dr. Minkin. "If you're not moist, sex can be uncomfortable. And why would anyone want to have sex if it's uncomfortable?" Use lubricants to make sex more pleasurable and put you back in the mood for making love.
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Anti-Aphrodisiac: Thyroid Problems
"Thyroid dysfunction can lead to decreased libido," says Dr. Minkin. Signs of an underactive thyroid include unexplained weight gain, sluggishness, fatigue, increased sensitivity to cold, muscle aches, brittle fingernails and hair, depression, and heavier than normal periods.
Anti-Aphrodisiac: Relationship Resentments
It's tough to get turned on when issues are brewing outside the bedroom. "Accumulating resentments can kill your sex drive," says Dr. Minkin. And with the craziness of every day life, it's usually not the bigger stuff that will do it, but the small stuff you may not even realize has been bugging you - like your husband's newfound habit of tuning you out at dinner or an in-law's insistence on telling you how to be a better parent. The fix? Keep talking lines open and bring up any issues as they happen so doesn't spill over into your time between the sheets. "Making time to communicate with your partner will lead to increased desire and a more satisfying sex life," says Dr. Minkin.
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"Certain types of antidepressants, such as SSRIs, can indirectly interfere with your sex drive," says Dr. Minkin. "We're not exactly sure why, but it's probably linked to serotonin levels. Other types of antidepressants, such as Wellbutrin, may not have the same libido-suppressing effect." Don't be ashamed to talk to your doctor about low libido if you're on antidepressants. She can help you find the best medication for you with the least amount of side effects.
Anti-Aphrodisiac: Overdoing It At Happy Hour
You booze, you lose - your sex drive, that is. Wine can be a potent passion potion, but one that's best used in moderation. "The only way that alcohol helps your sex life is by lowering your inhibitions," says Dr. Minkin. "Other than that, booze acts as a sedative that zaps your sexual energy and can interfere with your hormone levels." Having a drink a day may be good for heart health, but downing any more than that may up your risk of breast cancer - and drown your sex drive.
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Anti-Aphrodisiac: Boredom in the Bedroom
Famous sexologist Dr. Ruth has said that the biggest sex organ is not between your legs, but between your ears. Use your imagination to help boost your sexual excitement and break out of a lovemaking rut. If you've been doing only the missionary position in the bedroom, the need-for-new may go beyond your sex life. First, tap into your emotional connection by revisiting the activities you enjoyed when you first fell in love. When you remember that passion, it'll be far easier to awaken things in the bedroom. "To keep desire alive, you have to find ways to be creative," says Dr. Minkin.
Anti-Aphrodisiac: Blood Pressure Meds
Sometimes it's not you, it's him. "Blood pressure medications such as beta blockers can cause low sex drive and erectile dysfunction in men, and sexual problems with your partner can impact your own sex drive," says Dr. Minkin. If this is the case, ask your hubby to check in with his doctor about a new prescription. Solving his problem may boost your own sex drive.
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