You do not need to make up stories to get advice and information or say that intimacy issues are happening to a ‘cousin of a friend's neighbor.’ Let's be real. In general, the pandemic, has affected us financially, physically, and psychologically. This has permeated into the bedrooms of thousands of people, deteriorating their relationships and individual sexual performance. Who can concentrate on and have a desire to enjoy intimacy when they are too busy worrying about finding a job, paying next month’s rent, helping children with homework and virtual classes, and remaining organized enough to work and shop from home while avoiding infection from the coronavirus?

These are the issues being faced daily in this long but temporary reality that has already separated couples and pushing others to the brink. When problems overwhelm us, it is completely normal for sexual libido to diminish. But then from there, everything bad seems worse or much more serious because, believe it or not, most complex situations in everyday life as a couple are solved or worsened in the bedroom.

Do not worry, there is always hope! If you and your partner are still living under the same roof and sleeping in the same room, there is a lot you can do to recover the passion, improve communication, and relight the spark that made you fall for this person in the first place.

What is libido?

Libido is sexual desire. For there to be passion and sexual activity in your relationship, there must also be enough sexual drive, or libido, to keep both of you coming back for more. The most important roles in this task are mostly controlled by the hormones produced in the ovaries for women and in the testicles for men, other hormones such as prolactin which is secreted in the pituitary gland, and neurotransmitters in the brain. Therefore, our mind has much to do with our sexual performance, especially as we age. (1)

Libido levels can drop for different reasons, such as:

- Hormonal factors, caused by menopause in women and andropause in men, like the decrease of estrogen (female) and androgen (male). (2)

  • - Too much stress. (2)

  • - Unhealthy lifestyles and inadequate nutrition.

  • - Problems in the relationship or at work. (2)

  • - Low self-esteem.

  • - Lack of physical activity.

  • - Diseases such as diabetes, multiple sclerosis, cancer, and polycystic ovarian syndrome. (3)

  • - Mental illness and disorders. (3)

  • - Strong medications, like statins, among others. (3)

What can we do to increase libido and improve sexual activity?

  • - Regular exercise helps maintain a healthy level of libido because it regulates hormones and helps maintain the cardiovascular system (which is needed for good sexual performance). At the same time, sexual activity itself is a good cardiovascular exercise because it strengthens the heart, lowers blood pressure, reduces the risk of diabetes, lowers stress, and helps you sleep better. (4)

  • - Losing excess weight also helps increase desire. Healthy weight loss can even improve male fertility, but obesity interferes with it. Studies show that being overweight affects sexual health in different ways for both men and women. (5)

  • - Eating a nutritious diet is key to maintaining healthy libido levels while helping reduce risky sexual behavior, especially for women. Foods rich in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, abundant in vegetable proteins and antioxidants, or with a low glycemic index and carbohydrate count have been shown to improve fertility. (5)

Other aspects you should consider in your diet to increase libido include:

Foods that increase zinc as this supports sex hormones:

    • Oysters, as they increase testosterone for both men and women. (6)

    • Strawberries and raspberries help increase desire thanks to flavonoids. (7)

Foods that improve circulation and facilitate sexual performance:

    • Avocado has tons of vitamin E, which some refer to as the sex vitamin because it increases oxygen to the genitals, causes production of sex hormones, and prevents reproductive disorders (especially for women). (8)

    • Pomegranates can also increase testosterone in both men and women. (9)

Foods that improve serotonin and dopamine, responsible for providing us that sense of feeling good:

    • Watermelon contains a substance that produces an effect like Viagra, improving sexual potency in men. (10)

    • Dark chocolate increases the sensation of pleasure and relaxes the blood vessels within the body, especially effective in women. (11)

Other products that can increase sex drive:

  • Maca has been used for centuries to improve fertility, address female-specific issues, provide energy, and improve sexual performance for both men and women. Studies in rats have shown that, after 8 weeks of oral administration, maca boosts sexual function and stimulates aphrodisiacal activity by enhancing mood. (12)

  • Ginseng is among the top 10 sexual stimulants originating in Asian culture. It has been proven to improve sexual performance and is linked to a positive increase in mood and energy. A Canadian study shows ginseng also has physiological effects on the sexual organs and produces hormonal changes, increases blood flow to that area, and relaxes the muscles there. (12)

  • Resveratrol has been shown to improve quality of life, including the sexual quality of life. Some studies have shown that it may be especially effective in improving sexual performance in men with erectile dysfunction due to diseases such as diabetes. (13)

  • Another plant on the list of herbs used worldwide to combat sexual issues is ashwagandha, as it helps manage mood swings and reduce stress that affects lack of libido. In addition, some studies consider it to have aphrodisiac properties, due to effects like testosterone. (14)

  • Finally, zinc boosts the production of testosterone, thereby improving libido levels. Several studies in rats have shown that zinc therapy helps to improve sexual performance in males, depending on the dose. (15) (6)

Please remember that none of this information is useful if you do not improve communication with each other as a couple. Honesty and transparency are required to discover the root of the problems triggering a lack of libido. The right attitude is also needed to then carry out the necessary changes and final details to give the absolute best in and out of the bedroom. For example, a romantic dinner at home, professional therapy as needed, and lots and lots of willingness to improve your sex life will take it to another dimension.

Let's be healthier, together!

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