Let’s face it: sometimes, you’re just not in the mood for sex — which is completely and totally normal. If that’s the case more often than not, you might be dealing with a low libido. (And yes, that can be normal too.)
Before you write off your sex life forever, know that there are plenty of reasons why you might feel this way, and many of them aren’t cause for alarm. With age, pregnancy, menopause, stress, and relationships, your sex drive is bound to naturally ebb and flow.
(However, if you’re consistently lacking the desire to engage in sexual activity — including masturbation — there could be other causes, like certain medical conditions and medications. Talk to your health care provider to rule out anything serious and evaluate what prescriptions your taking.)
While checking in with your doctor is always the best place to start, different studies have shown that it’s possible to boost your libido naturally, without medication. Here’s how.
Indulge in dark chocolate
Dark chocolate containing 70 percent cocoa may help increase dopamine levels in the brain, which not only relaxes you and makes you feel happy, but can also improve the body’s response to stimulation. Additionally, research has shown that chocolate consumption leads to the release of phenylethylamine and serotonin, which can have aphrodisiac and mood-lifting effects.
Double up on iron
Low iron levels in women can have a negative effect on the ability to become aroused, produce lubrication, or have an orgasm. Eating more dark leafy greens (like kale and spinach) as well as beef provides your body with much-needed iron.
Keep in mind, though, that too much iron can be a bad thing: limit your intake to 20 milligrams or less a day to avoid side effects like constipation and other stomach issues.
Incorporate essential oils
Essential oils can be used to treat a number of ailments, and a low libido is one of them. A 2010 study tested the stimulating effects of aromatherapy massage with jasmine oil, and the results showed that the floral scent can get you in the mood.When applied topically to the skin, jasmine oil increased heart rate, breathing, and generated “behavioral arousal” in subjects. Expert tip: to prevent any irritation, add a few drops to a massage oil, rather than applying directly to the skin.
Have some watermelon
While watermelon is comprised mostly of, well, water — like, 92 percent water — the remaining 8 percent contains nutrients that could aid in increasing libido.
Researchers at the Texas A&M Fruit and Vegetable Improvement Center found that watermelon has ingredients that deliver Viagra-like effects to the human body’s blood vessels. Essentially, a four ounce serving of watermelon contains about 150 milligrams of a phytonutrient called citrulline, which the body converts to arginine, an amino acid that boosts nitric oxide levels in the body. That relaxes blood vessels in the same way a medicine like Viagra does to erectile tissue (which is present in the female clitoris as well as in a man’s penis).
Get your heart rate up
Exercise can have plenty of positive effects on your sex life. A 2008 study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine determined that short, intense exercises (20 minutes at 70 percent of one’s target heart rate) significantly increases genital arousal in women.
Additionally, working out is a great way to boost self-esteem and confidence, which can also lead to a heightened libido. And with more exercise comes increased strength and endurance, which can also lead to better sex.
While none of these suggestions are a substitute for a visit to your doctor, they’re worth a shot if you’re trying to ramp up you sex drive — especially if you’re looking for an excuse to add more chocolate to your diet, or need additional motivation to hit the gym.