Libido is a funny thing, it is so personal, and can change throughout our lives. What doesn’t help is that it is a taboo subject, despite being an intimate part of our lives and personality, just like periods.
I get it, no one wants to discuss their libido at work, that is a recipe for a sexual harassment complaint, but being able to discuss with partners, health care professionals and even being able to research it without being embarrassed or ashamed, should definitely be a realistic goal.
One thing that most articles on libido and sex refer to, is intimacy with a partner and this article is for you to work on your own, (whether partnered, single or searching).
What Is A Normal Libido?
There is no “normal libido” level and it does fluctuate. However, if you have never had a libido, it is worth speaking with your doctor and getting a referral to a psychosexual therapist just to see if there is an underlying reason.
It is totally possible that you are asexual, (it is thought that around 1% of the population could be asexual), but it is worth checking that there is nothing underlying in your physiology or psychology causing an underlying issue, as this could be causing other issues in your health or life that you are unaware of.
However, if you had a libido that has dropped off as you have changed stages in life such as a new job, working more hours, becoming a parent, caring for another or dealing with something as a medium term project, this is a sign that something is going on.
Also, libido remains throughout the life, so dismissing it as age related is a disservice to yourself and your hormones. Medications such as the pill, and underlying hormonal issues can also cause low libido.
I have previously written blog posts on how to increase your libido, so for now, let’s focus on what you can do to add some more self love and intimacy into your own life.
Indulging Your Sensuality
Before delving in to learning about what you need romantically and sexually, learning to get in touch with your body and what feels good, in many aspects, not just romantic or sexual partnerships, in my opinion is more important.
Getting in touch with what makes your body feel and resets your stress levels and brings your nervous system is critical for upgrading your love life. It is also an essential part of body literacy, in knowing what your needs are. Here are some things you can try:
1. Get a massage, reflexology treatment, facial, or mani/pedicure – we’re pack creatures and one thing lockdowns have taught us is that we need human touch, even non sexual human touch is important. Gentle and nurturing touch can help to reset our stress response, activate the parasympathetic nervous system and calm us on a deeper level. Even hair cuts can help to promote this feeling of deep relaxation. These treatments also bring you into awareness of your body, which is an essential part of body literacy.
2. Read a romance or erotica novel – this is another one that people often get shamed for, if you like your chick lit, that’s great, you don’t have to call it “holiday trash romance novel”. And judging by the success of Mills and Boon, there is a large market for this kind of writing. Whilst, like Disney, these books aren’t exactly setting you up for realistic expectations in the real world, they can be very fun and even arousing to read. For many women, reading romantic and erotic scenes will turn them on just as much or more than watching similar scenes (source: girl talk, but there are some interesting articles about this).
In interest of full disclosure and not being embarrassed, I love the Paranormal Romance Books, with authors such as Nalini Singh, MC Solaris, Jaymin Eve, Scarlett St Clair, Linsey Hall, Leia Stone and Suzanne Wright.
3. Get sentsual with essential oils (pun intended) – whether you love good quality toiletries, perfumes or playing with essential oils, scents are a very powerful way of connecting with your limbic system and triggering memories and feelings. Oils I recommend for intimacy and/or libido are ylang ylang, neroli, sandalwood, rose ginger, clary sage and patchouli. If you are new to using essential oils, please check out my videos on safety.
4. Treat yourself to some sensual lingerie or nightwear – it doesn’t matter whether cotton, lace or silk is your jam, but having something that feels amazing on your skin, under your clothes and when sleeping is one of life’s ultimate creature comforts.
Tapping Into Your Sensuality – Getting To Know What Turns You On Romantically & Sexualy
One thing that is very hard to get educated about is knowing how to tune into your sexuality. It’s great that some schools teach about different sexuality, gender and relationship models, but very little on being aware of your own feelings towards yourself as a romantic, sensual or sexual being. I guess this would be a bit weird in a classroom environment, but there should be more available online in terms or resources. Oh wait, there is….let’s take a look:
1. Love Languages – you may have heard of the Five Love Languages. I’ll be honest and my initial reaction as a Brit is “more cheesy stuff telling us what we already know from America”. But, it is actually really useful and I am totally eating my words on those thoughts right now. The love languages are; words of affirmation, gifts, acts of service, quality time and physical touch.
Everyone has a primary and secondary language and so many niggles within our relationships can often come from not realising that we express ourselves and need to relate to people in certain ways and bearing this in mind, it has changed how I approach all personal relationships and business relationships too.
Have a think about it, some of you, your primary love language will be something like words of affirmation, hearing a “thank you” and “you’re an amazing friend, I am so lucky to have you in my life”, however, your friend may be a hugger, where as you aren’t big on touch. Someone else might like little gifts, and a colleague might feel more values for their contribution with an act of service such as bringing them lunch as a thank you for their contribution to a project. It has actually made life way easier for me to relate to others (I can neither confirm nor deny that I ask new open minded colleagues and friends to take the free quiz so I can learn how best to interact with them).
2. Mama Gena’s School of Womanly Arts – this is a programme that is for all women (see website for inclusivity statement) on feeling integrated as a woman. She touches on relationships, sisterhood, sex and sexuality, inner bitch, self approval and feminism to name a few topics. This is a great programme and website for exploring these topics and feeling more comfortable with the whole of you, rather than just the approved version we have on show for the world.
3. Miss Jaiya – it’s hard to describe what Jaiya Ma does because we have a new internet provider and her website is apparently “adult rated” so that I can’t view it (I wish I was kidding, but in the UK 18+ websites are automatically restricted by law, and opting out is a bit of a pain), however, I have seen her previously described as a sex instructor, a sex writer and she has developed the Erotic Blueprint, which is an arousal map that reveals your specific erotic language—sensual, sexual, kinky, energetic, or shapeshifter. She explains how you can discover your own language, better understand a partner’s language, and use this road map to embrace and fulfil your desires.
I know a number of people who have done her training and felt it greatly enhanced their lives as well as clients’ lives, so I know it comes highly recomended. You can take her quiz here (assuming your internet provider let’s you, of course).
4. OMGYes – (funnily enough allowed by my ISP), is a website that educates you on how to navigate and understand how to stimulate the female anatomy with clear diagrams, and descriptions for solo or partner intimacy. It is about the Science of Female Pleasure. This is the education that many women could do with as it also clears up some misconceptions thanks various expectations set by porn and other media. They have two programmes that are very reasonably priced and they have been unofficially endorsed by Emma Watson (or Hermione Granger to my fellow Potterheads)
Structuring Your Life To Allow Intimacy
It’s no good learning about or thinking about any of the practices mentioned above if, you have no time or space in your life to do anything about it. That’s shelf help, not self help.
One of the biggest causes of libido dropping off is stress, and not taking care of yourself. Hopefully this is temporary, but let’s be honest, it’s super easy to take on so much to keep up with everything and often, we just absorb it to the point of overload, rather than trying to come up with long term solutions.
So with that in mind, here are some things you can do:
1. Learn to say “no” and that “no” is a complete sentence – are you feeling tired overwhelmed with too many responsibilities and not enough time to get everything done? I have been there my friend, and I get it’s hard. If you have the inner script that “I have to work late/do this thing otherwise this big thing at work won’t happen”, that is a sign that it has gone too far. It’s really hard to spot when you are in that position and so easy for someone on the outside looking in to say. The annoying thing is, everything on our plate, we put it there.
Learning to say “no” is really hard, especially if you like to keep the peace, but it keeps the peace for everyone else whilst you feel tight inside and get overworked. There are ways to say not from practicing saying it (I’m not kidding), to saying “can I get back to you on that” and then you can e-mail/text or get back to them with a no later when you feel your mental strength has built up again.
Also learning that “no” is a complete sentence. I used to try and justify my “no” with logic, but if you do that, people use it as an opportunity to argue back and convert it into a yes. So, to quote one of my close friends, “Imma gonna be real here”; no one cares about whether you are at breaking point, if they want you to do something. They aren’t going to notice you dropping from exhaustion and very rarely will you get thanked. It will turn into an expectation and someone else will likely get credit for your efforts.
If it ain’t a “hell yeah”, it’s likely a “no”. And trust me, it’s tough, it feels horrible, and mean, but after a few years, you find more things you can say no to and that extra time is so valuable.
2. Scaffolding – this sounds really weird, but it has been life changing for me. If you have a commitment or something you have to do, especially if your diary is already full or you’re on your period so your energy is super low, work out what tasks you can delegate and take short cuts with.
Housework, can it be done before or after or left for a couple of days? Can you hire a cleaner? Do you live with anyone who can take on that portion of work to support you. Can you pre-prepare meals or budget for food on the go? Can you delegate childcare, pick up, arrange a play date so you don’t have to worry about that? If you are in the office can you move/reschedule meetings to quieter periods or can you get someone to take on some admin tasks to cover your Business As Usual, whilst on this project.
Scaffolding isn’t about avoiding things that are unavoidable, it is about thinking about your network and your resources and re-arranging them to support you rather than feel you have to do everything at once.
3. Put Breaks In Your Diary – Especially if anyone else has access to your diary or calendar. I have put in appointments which are time to walk, step away from my desk on both electronic and paper calendars. It can be frustrating if someone doesn’t read it and books something in anyway, but at least, I have the fall back of showing them that the time is taken.
It can be super easy, especially in the working from home era, to go from one task to another or back to back meetings and lose your breaks, and natural breaks from screen time such as getting a drink, going to the stationary cupboard and commuting.
I have one friend who even schedules unstructured time, which is her tie to let her mind wonder and do its thing. I usually find that when I take a break, my brain comes up with ideas and solutions that I have been struggling with. It’s got to the point that after a yoga practice, I have to write out a load of them before putting the mat away.
4. Sexy Sleep – yes, you heard me, sleep is the new sexy and you need to sleep your way to the top. Sleep is important for just about everything; health, repair, renewal, libido, mental and physical performance. If you are not getting enough sleep (average is 7 hours a night but you may need more or less), or are struggling to stay asleep, then your libido and every aspect of your life is going to tank gradually.
I have no idea when it became fashionable to race to the bottom in terms of who has taken on the most stress when we speak to our friends, but this needs to stop. It serves no one.
If you are having issues sleeping, keep an eye out for my new sleep course.
5. Exercise – this is equally important in terms of our overall health and libido, because you need your blood to be pumping effectively to get hormone signals where they need to be and you need the constant feedback with your environment in different ways of movement so your body knows to reinforce those parts of your body. Exercise can also help with PMS.
Self Love First
One of my biggest frustrations about Valentine’s day is that it is so focussed on love and intimacy between couples. There are people in non traditional relationship structures and people who are happy and single, who also deserve intimacy in their lives too.
An aside: If you are curious about my other frustrations about Valentine’s Day; number one is that it’s also my birthday, you can only imagine how fun it is for my husband to try and book a restaurant to celebrate. Number two is that being Welsh, we have our own version, St Dwynwen’s Day or Dydd Santes Dwynwen which is on 25th January.
Whether or not you are single, self care is a bit of an overused trope in the wellness world by now. But self love is such a powerful practice, and when coupled with self intimacy (whether emotional release, sensual or sexual) can really help you upgrade your personal life. By getting to know what your needs are and how they are need to be met, on an intimate and physical level, you will find your love life can blossom and flourish in new ways.