Next The Connection Between Weight and Libido As Michelle Haynesworth struggled to shed 40 pounds after her first daughter was born five years ago, she lost something else instead — her libido. Whenever newlywed Shawna Wolf's husband gives her a wanna-get-it-on glance, the year-old music teacher in Strasburg, North Dakota, heads him off by suggesting they take their dogs for a walk. Your readiness to romp often depends on how you're feeling about your naked body.
When you gain or lose body fat, a slew of hormones affecting your libido are thrown out of whack. Your levels of a natural chemical known as sex-hormone-binding globulin increase, which causes bioavailable testosterone, the hormone that stimulates sexual desire, to fall.
In addition, high cholesterol associated with obesity can lead to plaque buildup in the blood vessels that supply the pelvic region, slowing blood flow to the clitoris and genitals and annihilating sexual arousal. Yet even more potent than the physiological effect of your weight is how you feel about it.
Meston's research has shown that a woman's sex drive is strongly linked to body confidence — specifically her perception of the areas of her body that can be easily seen by others think stomach and thighs — rather than her BMI. In one study, women were asked to compare six of their body parts to those of models in 20 different photographs. Then the women watched an erotic film while hooked up to a monitor that measured their vaginal blood flow. The good news is, you don't need one.
There are little things you can do each day to light your own fire. Work out to get turned on. Research shows that women who exercise feel better about their bodies and have more energy for sex. Physical activity releases hormones, such as endorphins and dopamine, that are believed to affect sex drive. Best of all, working up a sweat increases sexual sensations almost immediately, Meston's groundbreaking studies have found. Doing just 20 minutes of cardio at 75 percent of your maximum effort — when you can speak only in choppy sentences — increases sexual excitement by a remarkable percent.
Better arousal and stronger orgasms. The best sexercises are those that increase blood flow to the thighs, buttocks, hamstrings, and pelvis, such as yoga, jogging, cycling, squats, and lunges. Schedule at least 20 minutes a few times a week and then get busy with your partner.
Add sexuality superfoods to your shopping list. Those rich in antioxidants, fatty acids, zinc, and the amino acid asparagine can help boost both mood and libido, Dr. Overall, opt for a steady menu of heart- and brain-healthy foods, which feed your desire by preventing plaque buildup in the arteries and boosting mood, an important precursor to arousal. In fact, research has shown that the Mediterranean diet, which is full of fresh fruits and vegetables, olive oil, whole grains, and fish, is ideal for sexual health.
A recent study found that diabetic women who stuck closest to the Mediterranean diet were less likely to experience sexual dysfunction than those who didn't.
A lot of women are so busy dwelling on their perceived flaws during sex that they sabotage their own pleasure.
Doing a daily ritual to reduce anxiety about being seen nude, Meston says. Instead of grabbing for your robe post-shower, walk around the bathroom naked and purposely look in every mirror you pass, gazing at your whole body rather than your problem areas. Soon being bare will become so second nature that you'll be able to tune out your inner critic and tune into all the feel-good sensations when you're doing the deed.
Think of it as a sexual workout that's good for your health. Giving yourself an orgasm when your partner is not around brings blood flow to your genital area, nourishing those cells and tissues and increasing your immunity against bacteria and yeast. And because good sex and orgasms lead to more sex and orgasms, it will help get you in the mood for the real deal.
A survey of more than 2, women found that the 53 percent who used vibrators scored higher on measures of desire, arousal, and orgasm. Do you really have reason to be so self-conscious about your body?
Does your partner even care about the cellulite on your left thigh or the flabby inch you can pinch on your right arm? Is he getting an erection? Make a best-laid plan. Figure out your biggest barriers to sex and plan around them. The next morning we joke about how we had good intentions. Instead of a dinner date, schedule a sex date. The anticipation of intimacy later will help turn you on.
Text your partner flirty messages throughout the day. Or plan a tryst for the morning, when the kids are still sleeping and your stomach is empty. Put mind over mojo. During foreplay, focus on the pleasurable sensations instead of wondering what you look like or what your partner is thinking about your body. When your mind strays, silently repeat a mantra, such as "This is hot. Live Sexily Ever After Michelle delivered her second daughter last May and vowed she wouldn't let her weight get in the way of her love life again.
With a combination of cardio, weight lifting, and eating "clean" by cutting out fried and sugary processed foods, she shed the nearly 70 pounds of baby weight and is raring to go. Meanwhile your guy's belly is getting softer by the beer. Not loving his love handles? Invite him to join you at the gym or on a walk. Better yet, plan fun, active dates like ice-skating or snowboarding.
Doing new activities together amps up attraction and will invigorate your relationship, according to research. One of the biggest culprits is depression. Do things that used to bring you great joy — like your orgasm — feel dull? Ask your doctor about therapy. Your Rx Meds, especially birth control and antidepressants, can affect hormone balance and lubrication. Exercise may help override these side effects, so stay active.
Your Schedule When you're too busy or tired for sex, at least touch your partner while you're sleeping; spooning or sleeping back-to-back fosters sexual intimacy. Your Pet Invest in a crate so that Fido or Fluffy doesn't sleep in your bed, especially between the two of you. Looking at superskinny women will subconsciously kill your arousal. His Hygiene Suggest a steamy shower together to get into sexy mode. Too Many Cocktails Alcohol is a depressant, and it can throw hormone levels out of whack.
Cut yourself off after one drink.