"Of course, stress and anxiety are playing a major role," says Dr. Allison. "While everyone responds to these factors differently, for many, they can significantly decrease libido. The tricky thing is that we’re living in a constant state of stress these days, and we may not actually realize that this is what’s affecting us." When we acknowledge what parts of our lives are putting up stop signs for our sex drives, we can open up the possibility of getting a little freaky with ourselves again (and reap all the health benefits of an orgasm).
While stress is the baseline reason many of us are giving our silent vibrators a break, there are other contributing factors. If you're living with a significant other or roommate(s), you might just not have a moment alone. Or, on the opposite end of the spectrum: "It’s a fairly well-known fact that having sex can lead to wanting to have more sex," says Dr. Allison. "For those who are quarantined alone, this isn’t an option like it typically is—which can mean that you’re not experiencing this sex-driven enhanced libido." Your vibrator may be gathering dust whether you're constantly in the company of others or you're a COVID-19 party of one.
For all these reasons, it's perfectly fine if you're not exactly psyched to try your new vibrator or learn the Kivin Method. If you do find that you're missing the mood-boosting, skin-glowing effects of masturbation, though, Dr. Allison says you have options for rediscovering your sex drive.
Don't want to masturbate? Bring back the drive with 5 tips from a sexologist
1. Break a sweat
"Exercise causes serotonin, which generally leads to overall feelings of relaxation, happiness, and confidence. Most of us are getting less exercise than ever, and we may be seeing the effects of this translate into lower sex drive," she says. Might I suggest... tantric yoga?
2. Schedule masturbation time in your Calendar
Scheduling sex is a beloved tip among sex experts, and Dr. Allison says masturbation shouldn't be an exception. "Make it a priority," she says. "Slot in your calendar or commit to including it as part of your before-bed process. While this might seem like overkill, the act of setting aside time on a routine basis will help set an important rhythm. And as I mentioned, masturbation leads to more masturbation. Once you begin to reignite your relationship with yourself, it will come more naturally."
3. Consult an instructional guide
If you have a sex book that's been sitting on your nightstand for a few years, right now seems like a great opportunity to crack the spine. Dr. Allison's book, Tickle Your Fancy: A Woman's Guide to Sexual Self-Pleasure, is a good place to start.
4. Read erotica, watch porn
"Sources like porn, erotica, or even audio erotica app can be great tools to help replace that visual inspiration you may have been getting from everyday life before. In fact, if these are areas you’ve never explored before, it could be a good moment to give yourself permission to take some time and explore what works for you," says Dr. Allison.
5. Take steps to regulate your overall stress levels
The more stressed you are, the less you'll feel like having sex. "Helping to reduce the effects of overall stress and anxiety can help with your general libido. This means, lean into anything that typically helps you ease tension—whether that’s breathing exercises, a hot bath, or simply doing a solo dance around your apartment," says Dr. Allison. You can also try Well+Good's Mental Wellness Challenge and meditate with Happy Not Perfect. (Sign up with this link and 50 percent of your subscription cost will be donated to the National Council for Behavioral Health's COVID-19 Relief Fund.)
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