Decreased desire, vaginal dryness, painful sex, difficulty achieving orgasm — sexual dysfunction affects people in a wealth of ways. Whatever your symptoms, however, your home environment could be exacerbating your low libido.
From messy beds to invasive technology, here are seven ways your home might be hurting your sex life.
Your messy bed isn’t so inviting
“The physical environment in your house can have a big impact on your libido and how attractive and sexy you might feel,” Xanet Pailet, a sex and intimacy coach and author of the best-seller Living an Orgasmic Life, tells SheKnows. “Great sex has a level of spaciousness involved with it — giving yourself time and space for foreplay and to connect with your partner, building up the sexual desire. This is harder to achieve when, energetically and physically, your home environment is cluttered.”
That’s why those who make their beds average more sex per week than those who don’t, according to a recent OnePoll study. Sleepopolis commissioned the research on the 2,000 Americans who participated.
Forty-two percent of those who make their beds report that their partners make them more likely to do so; in fact, a third of people said it would actually be a turn-off if a potential partner didn’t make their bed in the morning. Perhaps that’s why on average those who do make their beds have sex far more often than those who leave their beds unmade.
Additionally, the research found that people who make their beds get more and better sleep.
This is important for sex drive since previous science tell us that a lack of sleep can also lower libido. One study by the National Sleep Foundations suggests that increased sleep directly impacts sexual response in women. According to the Journal of Sexual Medicine, getting just one more hour of sleep each night could increase your libido by 14 percent.
The technology on your bedside table is taking over
It’s no secret that technology can be a buzzkill. For one, the virtual world often distracts us from real life, consuming a bulk of our time that can otherwise be spent, well, having more sex. In fact, estimates from a study published on ScienceDirect posit that more than 210 million people suffer from internet and social media addictions around the world. This comes as little surprise since statistics from Ofcom show we spend an average of a day a week online, clicking and swiping away on our devices 2,617 times each day, according to a Dscout study.
“Having technology at one’s bedside can make it so easy to turn on the television, to work from bed or to play games on your phone,” Kryss Shane, a sex and relationship expert and licensed mental health professional who specializes in LGBTQ partnerships, tells SheKnows. “You are likely filling sex and romance time with technology without even realizing it.”
Technology can be so addictive, in fact, one study found that of the 71 percent of Americans who sleep with or next to their mobile devices, 45 percent check social media instead of sleeping according to Digital Awareness U.K. And again, we know what a lack of sleep can do to your sexual desire.
And of course, consuming your time isn’t the only reason the smartphone on your bedside table can lower your libido. Technology can make you feel isolated, according to a study published in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine; contribute to depression, according to a study published in the journal Depression & Anxiety; and kill your confidence, according to a University of Maryland study. All of that certainly impacts your sex drive as well.
“Make a pact with your partner to put away screens and spend time focused on one another,” Shane suggests. “You’re likely to increase the intimacy in your relationship that way.”
The temperature of your home is making you cold (& not interested in sex)
The drafty windows in your home can lower your libido — particularly if they’re making it too cold inside. One study from the University of Groningen found that couples with cold feet (literally) had more trouble achieving orgasm than those who were given socks. In fact, the success rate skyrocketed to 80 percent when they warmed their toes.
This is partly because the area of the brain that’s associated with genital sensation is right beside the part of the brain associated with feeling in the feet, neuropsychiatrist Daniel Amen writes in his best-selling book, Unleash the Power of the Female Brain.
The dust collecting on your furniture is decreasing your desire
Libido can be impacted by all kinds of things — allergies, environmental factors or even chemicals to which you were exposed — that could reduce your libido, Kayla Lords, a contributing sexpert for Jack and Jill, tells SheKnows. “This is because we’re exhausted after a day of headaches, itchy eyes and sneezing.”
Even your decreased sense of smell because of the allergens in your home can affect your sex drive. After all, you’ll have a harder time picking up on your partner’s pheromones, the chemical substances our bodies secrete that attract one another.
To add fuel to the fire, common over-the-counter medications, such as Allegra, Claritin and Benadryl, can lead to some adverse sexual side effects. This is because antihistamines and decongestants reduce swelling and the amount of mucus that you produce — and not just in your sinuses and throat, but in your vagina too.
The garbage you didn’t take out is stinking up more than the house
A dirty house that smells bad could increase concerns about contracting sexual infections and as such make you more inclined to have safer sex, according to a 2011 study aptly titled, “Smells Like Safe Sex: Olfactory Pathogen Primes Increase Intentions to Use Condoms.”
The research found that concerns about disease can trigger socially avoidant behaviors. This means if you’re in a foul-smelling environment that feels dirty (like your malodorous home), you’re more likely to use condoms as a line of behavioral defense.
The researchers told participants that the pipes in the building were sporadically emitting unpleasant odors as a result of plumbing issues. They then asked them questions about their sexual behaviors and attitudes toward condoms. Before responding, half the participants were given a whiff of the foul smell (the room was blasted with a shot of “liquid ass,” described as “a novelty odor liquid that smells strongly of bacterial threats (e.g. feces).” And the half exposed to the odor was significantly more likely to report intended condom use.
Of course, when you’re anxious or apprehensive about bacterial infections and diseases — whether you use condoms or not — you’ll be stuck in your head instead of enjoying the moment too.
Your low bathroom stock is lowering your libido
What’s in the bathroom (or rather not in the bathroom) can affect your sex life — specifically your dental care products. This is because men with dental diseases like gum disease (commonly a result of dental neglect) are more likely to experience erectile dysfunction than those with healthier mouths.
The study is the first to demonstrate the associations between clinical periodontal parameters and erectile dysfunction. And it’s important because if your partner isn’t cleaning his teeth properly, he might have a harder time staying erect during intimacy.
The foods in your kitchen aren’t all aphrodisiacs
“Choosing foods rich in ingredients that benefit sexual health is essential,” Amy Reiley, a gastronomist and editor of Eat Something Sexy, tells SheKnows. “The wrong diet can be incredibly damaging to libido as well as sexual function. But the right diet? You can choose foods to give yourself optimal libido and sexual health.”
Reiley recommends a number of foods you should keep in your kitchen to increase your sexual desire. Getting the right nutrients, she explains, can help maintain the right sexual hormone levels and even help maintain the pH balance of the female reproductive system.
This means keeping dark chocolate and peanuts in your snack cabinet; strawberries and citrus fruits in your fruit bowl; and items like eggs, tofu and chili peppers in your fridge.
At the end of the day, there are plenty of obstacles to having sex (or wanting to have sex), and we shouldn’t let our homes be one of them. Plus, it’s extra incentive to make the bed in the morning.
A version of this story was published February 2019.
Looking for household items that won’t harsh your sexy mellow? We’ve got you covered: