Call it libido limbo—that certain time of life (or month) when a woman is plainly, and possibly perpetually, “not in the mood.”
Sound familiar? Know you’re not alone: Studies reported by The North American Hormone Society reveal that roughly a third of U.S. women experience “low sexual drive or interest”—and one in three of those women are troubled by it.
Which ought to come as no surprise. Desire and sexuality are a large part of being human, inspiring everything from Drew Barrymore flicks to, well, how we got here. Plus, a healthy sex life often reflects a vibrant inner and outer existence. Is it any wonder, then, that those in libido limbo want to do what they can to restore their vitality?
With that in mind, read up on these 4 fresh, natural ways to bolster your sex drive:
1. Veg out
Broccoli, kale, cauliflower, mustard greens, cabbage—we all know these and other vegetables can be a boon for our overall health, thanks to the key vitamins and minerals they provide. But did you know that cruciferous vegetables can work specifically to enhance libido? Research points to their ability to assist your body in creating friendly forms of estrogen. Known as your “feminine” hormone, this chemical can promote feelings of intimacy and enhance your natural lubrication.
What’s more, estrogen works in connection with serotonin, a “feel-good” brain chemical that improves happiness, generates a sense of pleasure and diminishes anxiety. In other words, by supporting your mood in general, it can help you get into the mood (no Chris Isaak required).
2. Toss those Teflon pans
The sensual nature of cooking and eating with your partner is one of the most healthful and, well, effective aphrodisiacs out there (Marry Me Chicken is a real thing). But if you’re cooking the lion’s share of your meals in Teflon pans, you may be doing your health—and your sex life—a disservice.
According to a news release from the EWG, experts confirmed that a toxic chemical used in nonstick pans can lead to a cornucopia of health risks, thereby subverting your sexual energy. (The chemical, which doesn’t break down in the environment, ends up in your bloodstream when you use these pans.) Reach for—or invest in—stainless steel and cast-iron cookware instead. (To note, Epicurious voted All-Clad’s stainless roasting pan tops—perfect for that “engagement (or get it on) chicken.”)
3. Yin and yang
It’s a no-brainer that exercise may encourage a more robust life—including those parts conducted behind closed doors (hello, endorphins). That said, the type of exercise you do can have an impact on your receptiveness to your partner’s appeals.
Traditional Chinese medicine underscores the importance of balancing the yin and the yang in one’s life, and this extends to exercise.
Those who prefer to run and lift weights (yang) may need to balance all that fire with the tranquility generated by, say, restorative yoga and slow dancing (yin)—and the opposite holds true too. “The body responds best to a balance between ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ types of activity,” says author of Athletic Body in Balance Gray Cook, MSPT, OCS, CSCS. “In our culture, we love to specialize, but there’s a dance of opposites occurring in any natural system, and it’s to our advantage to get in step with it.”
In terms of your libido, excessive yang exercise, without sufficient yin exercise to offset it, can burn out your energy and disrupt your hormonal balance. Too much yin exercise, on the other hand, can lead to stagnation, low energy—and, yes, a diminished libido. Aim for a combination of both and you’ll feel better inside and out of the bedroom.
4. Leverage your busy schedule
One of the most common reasons women feel uninspired to, well, hop in the sack, is a dearth of time. Blame busy schedules, blame a society that prioritizes advancement over being present, but we all intuitively know that cultivating and maintaining a loving, dynamic and supportive relationship is one of the keys to having great sex—and to wanting more of it. In our modern world, many couples are separated on a daily basis by work, friends, errands and other responsibilities.
While there’s rarely a way to get around this, you can leverage your and your partner’s busy schedules in your favor. How? Through anticipation. From a text message to a thoughtful kiss to imagining an enjoyable experience together, you can effectively build desire and, thus, boost your libido. Humans, after all, are sometimes distinguished from other animals because of our unique capacity for delayed gratification: We can picture something amazing, and, well, enhance in advance. And the journey is just as pleasurable as the destination, isn’t it?