How to Increase Your Sex Drive, According to a Neuroscientist

The remedy? Unplug from your devices and turn them off for some portion of the day. I recommend three device-free periods each day. That means the phone or computer is turned off or in another room. Not only will this give you a break from the drain of continuous partial attention, it can also help boost your mood—and your sex drive.

## 5. Try breathing exercises.

When you unplug from your devices, use that time to plug into your body. Scientists call this the relaxation response: how we can use our bodies to calm our minds. There are various ways to do this including focusing on the breath or a soothing sound or image. Any strategy that allows you to break the chain of everyday thought can help ramp up the calming ability of the autonomic nervous system, known as the parasympathetic response. This state is key to all sorts of bodily functions including digestion, healing, and most relevantly, sexual arousal.

A simple practice that can reduce our stress reactivity: Breathe in for a count of four, breathe out for a count of six. Repeat six times.

## 6. Use your words.

Getting what you want sexually can help increase both your active and responsive desire. If you’re really into nipple orgasms, but your partner has no idea they’re a thing, speak up. Taking a risk to ask for what we want can be scary, but it’s also the way to boost the ongoing sexual potential of our partnerships. And remember, it’s important to prioritize our own pleasure.

## 7. Understand your cycle.

For women, active desire tends to vary across the menstrual cycle, usually peaking at the time of ovulation. This is the time of the month when women are most likely to initiate sex. In fact, women tend to have 24% more sex during the days when they are fertile, even if they aren’t trying to get pregnant.

Understanding the natural fluctuations in your sex drive can help you boost it. If you were all over your partner last week but this week feel as though you’re in a desire desert, don’t panic. Instead, make time for activities that can help boost your responsive desire like tapping into what turns you on in life in general. Tuning into what makes us feel fully alive, engaged, excited, and enthusiastic about our lives beyond the bedroom can translate into a kind of erotic energy we can bring back to our sex lives.

## 8. Check your birth control.

Some women taking birth control pills experience a decrease in libido. If this is happening to you, consider speaking to your doctor about finding a non-hormonal method of birth control that doesn’t dampen your desire.

## 9. Masturbate.

We know that masturbating strengthens the neural connections between our genitals and the places in the brain that register sexual sensation and pleasure. (I should know since my lab mapped them). This practice will literally strengthen these pleasure pathways, making orgasms easier to access and even more potent.

There also appears to be a hormonal explanation for why self-pleasure can increase your sex drive with your partner. Masturbation can provide a short-term boost to our testosterone levels. And since testosterone is what drives the sex drive in both sexes, we can end up feeling more desire as a result.

## 10. Have more sex.

And the more sex we have, the more sex we usually want. Once we’ve had an experience, like having sex, it’s more likely to stay on our minds. This can prime us to be more attuned to our sexual selves.

##11. Don’t stress if you’re not feeling it.

Everyone’s desire curve is different. Some people have a high baseline level of active sexual desire, others don’t.

So, don’t worry if you don’t feel actively like having sex. Take advantage of when you do. And as the course of desire flows over the month, or the course of relationship, learn what works for you to jumpstart the engine of your responsive desire.

Nan Wise, Ph.D., is AASECT-certified sex therapist, neuroscientist, certified relationship expert, and author of Why Good Sex Matters: Understanding the Neuroscience of Pleasure for a Smarter, Happier, and More Purpose-Filled Life. Follow her @AskDoctorNan.

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