In a sex-saturated culture, it might seem like everyone is ready to get it on 24/7. But that's not always the case—and as Jill Blakeway, a doctor of Chinese medicine, explains, a low libido is actually quite common. The good news is that if you're looking to get in the mood, you *can* make it happen. Here, the Well+Good Council member explains how.
Time and time again, my patients confide in me that they rarely feel in the mood for sex. They miss the connection that sex gives them; they feel guilty that they have let this part of their life go. But they also feel tired and unmotivated about their sex lives.
From a Chinese medicine perspective, sex, in the context of a supportive relationship, is important. The Taoist sages would say that having sex connects us energetically to our partners. This is known as He Qi, which literally means “joining energy.” It refers to the way that in a good sexual relationship, both partners contribute energy to each other. By doing this, the Taoists believed that it was possible to use sex to increase lifespan and heal the body. I believe that it’s vital for the emotional and physical health of our relationships that we connect with our partners in this way.
In my book Sex Again I share tips on how to build a connection with our partner and increase desire while enhancing sexual pleasure. Here are some of my favorite (and more surprising) pieces of advice.
Keep reading for 5 ways to get in the mood and make sex better than ever.
Keep your socks on
You are 30 percent more likely to experience orgasm if your feet are warm. Dutch scientists have done the study to prove it, but Chinese medicine has known all along that cold feet means poor circulation and poor circulation makes it harder to orgasm.
As comedy duo Flight of the Conchords puts it in their song "Business Time": “I remove my clothes very, very clumsily, tripping sensuously over my pants. Now I'm naked, except for my socks, and you know when I'm down to just my socks what time it is...It's business. It's business time.” Who knew they were on to something?! And if socks aren’t your idea of sexy lingerie, there is a more romantic option: Start things off with a foot massage.
Find your inner Zen
Many of my patients have trouble reaching orgasm because they can't stop thinking about work, bills, or their shopping list. When those distractions pop up, it's hard to be in the moment and enjoy sex. Fortunately, staying focused is a learned skill—and one of the best ways to start is by meditating. Meditation can be a great way of training your mind to stay present, and clinical research shows that women who meditate are able to increase their responsiveness (and so increase their sexual pleasure). Personally, I find yoga to be very meditative—and it has the added bonus of being great exercise and increasing flexibility, all of which make it easier to enjoy sex.
Get your acupuncturist involved
Chinese medicine has a long tradition of using acupuncture, herbal formulas, and nutrition to enhance libido. Our patients are pleasantly surprised to find that six sessions of weekly acupuncture can make a tangible difference to both sexual desire and responsiveness. This is because lack of desire in Chinese medicine can be caused by two things. Firstly, stagnation of qi leading to poor flow of energy and blood, which mutes sexual response; and secondly, lack of qi which means that we are too depleted to be able to get in the mood for sex. A combination of herbs that boost qi along with acupuncture to help qi and blood flow is a great way to get your mojo back.
Regular exercise helps to move qi (energy) and so alleviates the qi stagnation associated with poor sexual response. Exercise also reduces stress and improves your body image, both of which will help you feel sexier. A study of women ages 45 to 55 found that sexual satisfaction is directly linked to fitness. According to the study author, Judith Gerber, a psychologist at the University of Vermont College of Medicine, “The less exercise they got, the lower their desire and sexual satisfaction.” Because exercise makes the blood flow and the nervous system fire, women often tell me that they have more energy for sex immediately after exercising. Bearing this in mind, it makes sense to do half an hour of yoga or qigong before bedtime to give your sexual energy a boost.
My final piece of advice that might surprise you is to just do it—even if you don’t feel completely in the mood! The key way to improve sex is to have sex. (Not if there are relationship problems that mean it doesn’t feel right or would be damaging, of course—but in almost every other case it’s highly recommended.) Having sex creates energetic connection, bonds you to your partner, and releases hormones, which in turn make it more likely that you’ll want to have more sex. So have sex even if you don’t feel in the mood. Stay present, enjoy the connection, relax, and don’t have too many expectations. Before you know it, your body will be back in the groove and you’ll find your desire creeping back.
Dr. Jill Blakeway, DACM, is a practitioner and teacher of Chinese Medicine and the founder and clinic director of the YinOva Center in New York City.
Jill is the author of Making Babies: A Proven 3-Month Program for Maximum Fertility and Sex Again: Recharging Your Libido. She's currently writing her third book, about energy healing, for Harper Collins.
What should Jill write about next? Send your questions and suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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