If it’s gotten to the point where you have to psych yourself up before sex, it may be time to call in the reinforcements. No, I’m not talking about the little blue pill. I’m talking about a few sexual therapies you can use to rev your stalled engine.
My sexual roadblock came about almost predictably, right after I had my two sons back-to-back. My body was fine after pushing out a watermelon twice, and I was even able to give sex a go after the six-week postpartum waiting period. But the real problem was my mind — the constant exhaustion from the constant engagement of trying to entertain two kids all day long was getting to me. By the time bedtime rolled around, I was only ready for bed. I didn’t want to think about any more touching, especially if it required me to get in a sexy state of mind.
As sad as this story sounds, it’s normal. Life can hit you with countless events that make you want to close your legs forever — having kids, work stress, relationship difficulties, personal trauma and loss, just to name a few. This lack of sexual desire in a long-term relationship is most commonly pinned on women, but men struggle too. An estimated one in 10 women suffers from low sexual desire, with low sex drive affecting anywhere from 13 to 28 percent of men.
If you suspect that your low sex drive may be caused by a medical problem, visit your doctor first. If you have a nagging feeling that your deflated libido is related to the bigger picture, possibly stemming from an imbalance in your life, it’s time to address the problem. There are plenty of natural treatments out there designed to relieve stress, decrease anxiety and help you feel like your old self again. Most natural therapies can’t guarantee an increase in sex drive, but many times, they do come with a nice bonus — an extra boost of energy in between the sheets:
If you can’t possibly fathom what sticking a needle in your face has to do with getting it on, hear me out. Acupuncture remains one of the most popular natural remedies because it focuses on total body wellness, instead of targeting a few scattered symptoms. Based on the principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine, needle pressure is placed at specific acupoints in the body to balance the flow of energy and correct underlying imbalances.
Acupuncture has extensive health benefits with scientific backing, and it may even improve sexual health. Diane Joswick, L.Ac., MSOM, says acupuncture can boost a lagging libido by targeting the root cause of sexual dysfunction (i.e., early menopause, weight gain or emotional issues). Acupuncture can also address sexual problems stemming from infertility, vaginal dryness, impotence and premature ejaculation.
2. Air massage
A little pregame stroking is one of the best ways I know to get in the mood for sex, but Heather Allison, love coach and photographer, argues that sensual stimulation without touch can be even more erotic. It’s called air massage, introduced to Allison as a libido-lifting exercise by her teacher Rori Raye, and it’s really kind of hot once you understand how it works. Allison recommends starting by setting the mood. Next:
“Like you would in a normal massage, lie down on your bed and spread your arms and legs out a bit. You can do this clothed, but it’s much more powerful and enjoyable when done naked. Now bring your attention and awareness to the air around you. Everything is energy, everything is particles — so really try to imagine that the very air around you is tangible. Bring your attention to every inch of your skin, and start to feel the touch and the vibration of the air against it. Once this feels amazing, feel free to start imagining a lover running his fingers and his hands along your body, as well. It’s best if the ‘masseuse’ is not specific — just let this ‘masseuse’ be a mystery, a stranger, a faceless set of hands lovingly and carefully nurturing your body. The act of doing this simple air massage for at least 15 minutes will help to remove feelings of anxiety, over-thinking, spinning-thoughts and will boost libido,” says Allison.
Forget everything you know — hypnotherapy is outgrowing its hokey reputation. Research backs the alternative treatment to ease pain, calm anxiety and improve digestive health. Hypnotherapy practitioner Ti Caine, C.H.T., creator of The FutureVisioning program, says this practice can be used within a larger psychological model to treat sexual dysfunction and provide the opportunity for spiritual growth. Caine warns that while alternative healing isn’t a quick fix, it can create powerful results when used in a wellness plan. Caine explains how his integrated approach helped revive a couple’s dead bedroom of more than a decade, “Jim and Daria had been married for over 25 years. Jim had suffered with erectile dysfunction for over 12 years, and Daria had difficulty with really feeling and enjoying sex for most of the second half of their marriage.”
“They were very sad, angry and had tried every pill, vitamin, herb and treatment they could find. They had talked for years in therapy about their childhood issues, and their communication problems, but they had never looked at the core issue of their real power,” says Caine. “Within the first two weeks [of treatment] and understanding that they had actually manifested these illnesses to show them that they were both feeling impotent in the whole context of their lives — they both felt better, more energetic, happier and sexier than they had in their entire lives!”
There’s nothing overtly hot about sitting on a yoga mat and saying “om,” but trust me when I say that it can get you there. The biggest benefit of my daily meditation practice right before bed is the noticeable stress relief. And as you might have guessed, relieving stress before I hit the sheets often makes me want to ask for company. Meditating for just a few minutes a day can provide stress reduction benefits. Researchers also found that women who practiced mindfulness meditation for just 12 weeks were more responsive to sexual stimuli.
5. Orgasmic meditation
If you’ve ever stifled a yawn during sex, you’re probably not doing it right. Rather, you’re probably not engaged because you’re not tuned in to the sexual sensations in your body. You can slow down and enjoy these natural feelings of desire by taking the pressure off, says Suzanne Casamento, founder of Fantasy Dating. The best way to do this is through orgasmic meditation. “It’s a process in which one person strokes the other’s clitoris (specifically, the upper left quadrant) for 15 minutes,” she explains. “The goal is not necessarily to climax, but to focus solely on following the feelings — not on thinking. The idea is to create a deeper connection between two people and increase your vitality, confidence and energy.”
6. The lockbox
As kinky as this tip sounds (and while there’s nothing wrong with locks and chains in the bedroom), it’s really quite innocent. If anxiety is at the heart of your dry spell, a symbolic pre-sex ritual could help ease your mind. There’s a reason Dr. Fran Walfish, Beverly Hills relationship psychotherapist, author of The Self-Aware Parent and expert co-star of Sex Box, WE tv, considers the worry lockbox one of her top tips for better sex. It’s an easy habit that can help you relax and leave all your worries behind, at least long enough to orgasm. She explains, “Put all of your worries in a box, lock the box and leave it outside of the bedroom! If she’s worried about the kids, she will not have an orgasm. When the stock market goes down, so does his erection. Free yourselves to enjoy the moment.”