Sex Drive FAQ
As a sex educator and coach, one of the most common topics people ask me about is sex drive. People are concerned about whether their sex drive is normal, how they can improve their sex drive, and what to do if their partner’s sex drive is different from theirs. Below are a few questions people commonly ask about sex drive, along with my answers.
How can I increase my sex drive?
People who have experienced a lull in their sexual desire can reignite it by introducing something new and exciting into their sex lives. Sometimes, this means exploring fantasies that are considered taboo.
The biggest hurdle many people have to overcome is accepting that what gets your desire going in the bedroom may be the exact opposite of what you value in your daily life. Many high-powered professionals love to be submissive. Many feminists who are outspoken about the objectification of women love to feel like objects in the privacy of their bedroom. The more you can lean into these fantasies without shame, knowing they don’t have to leave your bedroom, the more you’ll give yourself permission to unlock your full desire.
Other than that, one hack for increasing your sex drive is to masturbate frequently without orgasming. Make a commitment to touch yourself for at least five minutes a day, ideally more, and not climax. This puts you in touch with your sexuality and builds up your arousal so that eventually, you’ll be dying to release all that energy with a partner (or on your own).
Is there such thing as having too high a sex drive?
Not really. If someone’s high sex drive is bothering them, this is usually not because of the sex drive itself but because of the judgment they place on it, because of a partner’s judgment, or perhaps because of sexual decisions they’re making that aren’t aligned with their values.
If you are bothered by your sex drive, try working through feelings of shame associated with it and finding healthy ways to express it rather than tamping it down. Masturbation is a good solution if you don’t have a partner whose sex drive matches yours. If you are making sexual choices that you end up regretting, this could be related to another issue like anxiety or depression, which may be helpful to address head-on in therapy.
I often enjoy sex once it gets started, but I don’t have the desire to initiate it. Is this normal?
The short answer is yes. The long answer is that people can experience two types of desire: spontaneous and responsive. Spontaneous desire typically arises for hormonal reasons — that is, you just feel horny. Responsive desire arises, you guessed it, in response to something external, like a sexual image or advances from a partner.
Some people experience responsive desire more often than spontaneous desire, which means they may not get into the mood until a partner initiates — or, if they’re on their own, until they do something to stoke their desire, like watching porn or beginning to touch themselves.
If you have responsive desire, your partner can make a point to do things that activate your desire without making you feel pressured, like perhaps grazing against you as they walk by or telling you how sexy you look. If your partner enjoys feeling pursued, you might make a point to do things on your own that turn you on, like reading erotic stories you enjoy, so that you feel motivated to initiate sex.
Why is my partner turning down sex?
People may turn down sex because they are feeling tired or stressed, because the sex isn’t good for them, because sex is painful for them, because of past negative experiences, because they are upset with a partner, because there’s been a breach of trust, because a partner has poor hygiene, and more.
In a long-term relationship, it’s common to lose desire as you fall into a routine. That’s why, even if the early courtship period is over, it’s still important to do the things you did early on in your relationship, like taking each other out and striving to look good for each other.
You can also ask your partner what they enjoy about your sex life and what you can do to make it even better. Some people are reluctant to give feedback because they don’t want to hurt a partner’s feelings, so framing it as “what can I do to make it better?” may make a partner more comfortable expressing what they want.
Are there any products that can help increase my sex drive?
There is little evidence behind most supplements and libido cures on the market. If you think there may be a physical reason for your low sex drive, such as a hormonal imbalance, it is better to speak to a doctor, get relevant testing done, and receive a professional opinion than to purchase a commercial product. Overall health does impact sex drive, however, so it’s always good for your sex life to exercise, eat well, and get treatment for any health issues you’re facing.
Other than that, the purchases most likely to increase your sex drive are probably basic stuff like sex toys and porn! Sometimes, the issue isn’t a physiological one but a psychological or behavioral one. In order to feel more turned on, you need to ensure you are getting the stimulation you need, both physically and mentally, which may (depending on the person) mean more clitoral stimulation, dirty talk, role playing, and more.
What can I do if my partner’s sex drive is lower than mine?
You may explore different ways to get your partner in the mood without putting pressure on them, like wearing something that arouses them, introducing a toy they’ll enjoy, or saying words or phrases that turn them on. I also recommend connecting sensually through activities like cuddling, taking baths together, or giving each other massages. However, make it clear that while you’re open to these things leading to sex, they are fine to do on their own. The more safe, comfortable, and respected your partner feels, the more open they will actually be to sex.
What can I do if my partner’s sex drive is higher than mine?
Know that it’s not your responsibility to fulfill all your partner’s sexual desires. While some people make an effort to have sex to please their partners, you should only do this to the point that you feel comfortable. To avoid resentment building up, it is best that you are also experiencing arousal and pleasure. Work on figuring out what gets you going and how you can incorporate your turn-ons into partnered sex so that you’ll naturally want more sex, rather than forcing it.
You can suggest masturbation as a way for your partner to release their pent-up sexual energy. Some people also consider exploring non-monogamous arrangements where one or more people have sexual connections with others. However, this adds a layer of complication to the relationship, so only look into this if it’s something you both genuinely feel good about.
Suzannah Weiss is a writer, multi-certified sex educator, and sex/love coach whose work has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, and more. You can find her on her website or on Twitter or Instagram.