It’s time to get your sexy back. Many have blamed COVID-19 for the lack of sexual functioning and activity, and they aren’t necessarily wrong. During the pandemic, partners were either stuck together or separated for long periods or didn’t have the opportunity to experience privacy. All that makes getting in the mood difficult or nearly impossible to do. According to a recent study, 25% of participants reported less sexual desire, and only 14% (18% of men and 8% of women) experienced increased sexual desire due to the effects of COVID-19.
Tack on the pressures of everyday life, including paying bills, parenting, and performing at work, and it’s no wonder why libidos were and continue to be low. According to Jacqueline Sherman, Ph.D., our libido typically suffers for two reasons, the most prominent being stress. “When the stress hormone cortisol is released in the body, it makes it much more difficult to feel sexual desire. Stress creates tension in our body that makes it difficult for some people to relax enough to want to be sexual. People feel overwhelmed trying to balance life, including work and home responsibilities. As our stress level builds, our libido can take a major dip,” she says.
Another reason for the decrease in sexual performance is predictability. “Over time, couples stop trying new things in the bedroom and rely on what has worked. This recipe can cause feelings of boredom and will impact one’s desire to engage in sex. Novelty increases our libido because our brain releases dopamine, the pleasure hormone, when we try something new and exciting. Dopamine plays a major role in sexual behaviors and can kick the libido into drive,” she explains.
Sexologist Lexx Brown-James, LMFT, suggests scheduling time to have sex. “It may sound strange, but putting a time on your calendar to specifically carve out for sensual pleasure can be arousing. Use a secret code if others can see your calendar, so only you (and maybe your lover) know what it’s for. Then stick to it,” she says.
While there isn’t an exact metric for measuring libido, and a sex drive can be fluid, there are ways to up your sexual desires and activities in and out of the bedroom. Check out Brown-James and Sherman’s tips for spicing things up.
Delegate: “Invisible labor, especially for women, can decrease our libido. Delegate more! Get chores done and the worry that comes with them off your mind so that you can focus on your pleasure for a few minutes,” says Brown-James.
Get experimental: “Sexual devices are friends, not foes! These devices are there to assist and amplify your pleasure. You can use them solo or with a lover who can help amplify the pleasure they bring you,” she says.
Visual aids: “Using erotica, whether you watch, listen or read it, can help build arousal and remind us about sexual fantasies. You don’t have to use those fantasies at all; you can use them as fuel for arousal,” she says.
Get rid of the shame: “Shame is meant to paralyze and minimize a person. It’s used to make someone feel all wrong and even unloveable. Shame has no right near pleasure. As a consenting adult, you can claim your birthright- pleasure. As long as the adults in play are consenting, find all the ways to please one another,” she exclaims.
Focus on your health: “If you still have a hard time and can’t find your libido, consider getting physical therapy, sex therapy, and sex coaching. Each of these is headed by a professional who can assess what might help you regain your groove,” she states.
Sherman suggests having a sexy reminiscent session. “Couples who reminisce about their sexual past can create sexy foreplay and erotic energy! Your past sexual memories with your partner are a great tool to connect intimately and will help create anticipation if you’re experiencing low libido.”
Breath together erotically: “Since stress is a major libido killer, it is great to master breathing exercises to help relieve stress. Deep breathing from your diaphragm is one of the quickest ways to decrease tension in the body,” she says.
Practice mutual masturbation: “Try masturbating together! Mutual masturbation is when you and your partner are masturbating alongside each other. You are touching yourselves, letting each other see how you want pleasure. Watching your partner experience sexual pleasure can enhance your feelings of sexual desire and bring you closer together,” she says.
Use teledildonic sex toys: “These devices are controlled remotely through an app and help couples add creativity and excitement to the bedroom. You can control your partner’s vibrations through an app that connects with the toy.”
Share your wildest fantasies: “Connecting to your fantasies is a great way to spice things up in the bedroom! Fantasies help you learn about yourself and primes your body and mind for sexual arousal.”
Try an erotic meditation: “Most people have tried meditating, but an erotic meditation is usually novel to most. Since novelty can increase libido, this exercise is a great way to connect intimately with your partner while spicing things up! Invite your partner to join you. Start by closing your eyes and bringing your attention to your breath. Notice your breath and begin to slow it down with intentionality. Next, imagine a sexy scene with your partner.”
Dance for pleasure: “Get nude, or put on something that leaves you feeling sexy and erotic. Ask your partner to do the same. Find a mirror and play a song that you find sexy. Move your body. Whine your waist. Whirl your hips. Allow your body to lead you and willingly follow.”
Try pleasure mapping: “Couples can create desire and increase low libido when exploring pleasure zones. Pleasure mapping allows individuals to explore their partner’s erogenous zones, which are areas on the body that are sensitive to stimulation and can produce sexual excitement.”
Practice verbal seduction: “Verbal seduction, aka dirty talk, is a turn on to most. Using language as a form of eroticism can take your sex life to an entirely new level. Dirty, descriptive talk that builds anticipation of what is coming next is a great way to begin practicing this skill.”
Talk about curiosities: “Learning to express your needs, boundaries, curiosities, and sexual desires can boost libido! Research has shown that couples discussing sex regularly report having more satisfying sex lives.”