There’s a three-letter word that, if used correctly, has the power to help with a lot of our health problems — and that word is sex.
The thing is, though, as our age increases, our sex drive tends to decrease. It’s especially so with women as they go through menopause and beyond. So is there a solution on how to increase libido in women?
Dr. Amy Killen seems to think so. Her work as an anti-aging and regenerative physician (she’s also the trainer of Mindvalley’s The Science of Great Sex Quest) has helped many understand the importance of sexual health and regain their sexual potential.
It’s what she calls “sexponential medicine,” a play on the words “sex” and “exponential medicine.” It’s an area of medicine that is currently “getting swept up in this exponential growth.”
That’s not the only thing on the up and up. With Dr. Killen’s insights on how to increase libido in women, your sex life, too, can be booming.
Understanding Your Libido — What Is It Exactly?
The libido is more commonly known as the sexual drive or desire for sexual activity. It stems from the Latin word libido or lubido, which means desire, longing, sensual passion, and lust.
There are two types of sexual desire, as Dr. Stephanie S. Faubion, director of the Women’s Health Clinic at Mayo Clinic, highlights in The Menopause Solution:
- Spontaneous desire. It’s the biological drive or craving for sex. It’s typically initiated with a sexual thought (like when you watch 50 Shades of Grey) and wants to initiate sex with your partner.
This drive relies on your hormones; some women can see a huge decline in sex after menopause due to the shifts in hormone levels.
- Receptive desire. This is sparked as a response to external sexual stimuli, like a flirtatious touch, physical closeness, or sexual contact.
You can maximize this desire when your biological drive for sex declines. So if your libido needs a little help, Dr. Faubion advises looking at your biological, psychological, relationship, and life issues that could be contributing to your willingness to have sex.
Sexual intimacy is essential for everyone. So, spontaneous or receptive, use whichever way works for you for a thriving sex life.
Why Is Your Libido Low?
It’s important to note that there isn’t really a universal “normal” for sex drive. Fluctuations in libido are normal — it depends on factors like age, stress level, and relationship status.
“Over the last two decades, we kind of, as a population, have been having sex much less often,” explains Dr. Killen at Mindvalley’s A-Fest 2022 in Jordan. “It all kind of goes down to (or at least a lot of it is) that we’re living our lives online instead of with people, and so, [we’re] losing a lot of that connection.”
According to the Mayo Clinic, causes of low sex drive can include:
- Physical causes, such as pain during sex, inability to orgasm, medical diseases, medications, lifestyle habits, surgery, and fatigue.
- Hormone changes from menopause, pregnancy, and breastfeeding.
- Psychological causes, like mental health problems, stress, sexual anxiety, poor body image, low self-esteem, history of physical or sexual abuse, and previous negative sexual experiences.
- Relationship issues, like lack of connection with your partner, lack of trust, unresolved conflicts or fights, and poor communication of sexual needs and preferences.
If your libido is weaker than it once was, you may experience the following symptoms:
- No interest in any kind of sexual activity, including masturbation,
- Rarely or never have sexual fantasies or thoughts, and
- Concerned with your lack of sexual activity or thoughts.
Sure, a low libido can be normal. However, it’s always advisable to speak to your doctor if you have concerns, especially on how to increase libido in women naturally or with medications.
Are There Benefits to Being Sexually Active?
Sex is one of the major things we, as humans, were born knowing how to do. (Whether we know how to do it well or not is for an entirely different conversation.)
Sexual health is not a luxury. Sex isn’t just feel good. It’s one of the main pillars of health that supports us in this quest for longevity.— Dr. Amy Killen, trainer of Mindvalley’s The Science of Great Sex Quest
Chances are, the sex talk you got when you were younger didn’t cover the benefits nor how to increase libido in young women. So regardless if it’s with a partner or solo, here’s a look at how sex greatly supports your health with insights from Dr. Killen.
1. Physical health
Being that sex is a physical activity, it makes sense that there are benefits to our physicality. It’s associated with lower blood pressure, better sleep, and less stress, according to Dr. Killen.
Additionally, a 2016 study explains that during sexual intercourse and foreplay, women (as well as men) experience stretching of muscles and tendons, flexion of joints, and hormone fluctuation. And with all that sensual tumbling, it can promote cardiovascular fitness.
2. Emotional health
Like exercise, sex releases a number of neurotransmitters that can influence your mood. Here are the ones Dr. Killen highlights in her talk at A-Fest 2022:
- Dopamine: responsible for feelings of pleasure, desire, motivation, and energy.
- Endorphin: reduces pain and stress.
- Serotonin: helps with happiness, calmness, focus, and emotional stability.
- Oxytocin: linked to warm, fuzzy feelings and lowers stress and anxiety.
When it comes to the topic of how to increase libido for older women and younger ones, it’s no wonder sex is linked to better overall well-being.
3. Mental health
As stress and anxiety levels decrease and the good feelings increase, there’s also going to be an impact on your mental health.
According to Dr. Killen, those with a healthy sex life are “less likely to have memory loss and cognitive decline.” This, she adds, will lead them to have a little bit less depression, less anxiety, and better self-esteem and confidence.
Case in point: a 2021 study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine looked at the psychological, relational, and sexual health benefits of being sexually active during the Covid-19-related lockdowns. It found that the subjects who had sex often had less anxiety and depression than those who didn’t.
4. Social health
One recommendation to boost sex drive is through social connections. An example of how to increase libido in young women fast would be to spark a responsive desire through body language.
In her Quest on Mindvalley, Dr. Killen shares that her patients who have problems with sexual dysfunction don’t necessarily complain about their physical health problems, like difficulty sleeping or high blood pressure. Instead, they tell her that they feel disconnected from their partner.
“Sex gives us the opportunity to deeply connect with a partner,” she explains. “It gives us the opportunity to exercise our humanness in a world and a time where that’s becoming more and more of a rarity.”
5. Spiritual health
When looking at how to increase libido in women, we don’t often associate it with spirituality. However, it could be used as a transcendent experience, something similar to the teachings of the kama sutra.
In fact, a 2021 study looked into the practice of orgasmic meditation to achieve mystical-type experiences as opposed to using psilocybin. The researchers found that the meditative practice, which involves manual stimulation of the clitoris, can trigger more mystical experiences than using that particular hallucinogenic substance.
6. Environmental health
There’s a link between a person’s environment and sexual behavior. A research article in Environmental Health Perspectives provides a list of factors that impact sexual health, including:
- Toxic pollutants,
- Self-administered toxins,
- Situational factors,
- Stress, and
- Social and cultural factors.
Dr. Killen explains, in her Mindvalley Quest, that while estrogen and testosterone bolster sexual function, it’s normal for them to reduce with aging. However, she adds, “The types of changes we’re seeing now in these hormone levels” — mostly due to the factors listed — “is not normal and could lead to not only sexual dysfunction but also infertility for an entire population.”
How to Increase Libido In Women, According to Dr. Killen
The great thing about this modern era is that we’re celebrating the process of aging. It’s no longer about anti-aging but about graceful aging. And learning how to increase libido in women is a great place to start.
“Sex maybe isn’t just something we do for pleasure,” Dr. Killen suggests. “Maybe it’s also something we could do as a sort of medicine, you know? It’s self-soothing, for sure, but there’s maybe more to it.”
In her talk at A-Fest 2022, she shares how you can increase your drive and awaken your inner sex goddess. These four are bite-sized summaries, but you can get more insight into the full version of the talk:
1. Mind the mind
One of the most common myths about sex is that the genitals are the most powerful sexual organs. Debunked: the brain is, by far, the most powerful.
Not only does it release feel-good neurotransmitters and hormones, but it also makes you feel aroused and experience intense pleasure associated with orgasm.
What’s more, studies show that mindfulness can help with sexual well-being. A 2019 research article in the Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy explains that sexually mindful individuals tend to have better self-esteem, greater intimacy, and diminished cognitive distraction — all these lead to satisfaction with their sex lives.
Dr. Amy Killen’s tip on how to increase libido in women: “The breath work, the meditation, the walks in nature, the journaling… All of this is so important and I would absolutely recommend starting with those things to get your mind in this sort of parasympathetic rest and relax state.”
2. Boost blood flow
Sexual organs appreciate good blood flow. Unfortunately, as we get older, our blood vessels start to fill with plaque and narrow, causing a decrease in nitric oxide and the circulation to be less than optimal. This, according to Dr. Killen, is a major cause of sexual dysfunction in women.
So it’s important to ensure you choose a healthier lifestyle. Anything that supports cardiovascular health is going to support your sexual health.
Dr. Amy Killen’s tip on how to increase libido in women: “A healthy lifestyle is honestly the most important thing you can do” — this includes exercising, breathing properly, eating a heart-healthy diet, ditching the tobacco, maintaining a healthy weight, sleeping well, minimizing stress, getting regular checkups, and so on.
3. Optimize hormones
Estrogen, as you may know, is the main sex hormone in women and is released in a cyclical pattern. Testosterone is the other main one, being a precursor to estrogen. Both reach peak levels just before ovulation, and when they do, that’s when a woman feels most excited and aroused.
Unfortunately, these levels do drop, one main reason being menopause. So when you’re looking at how to increase libido in older women, it’s important to understand your hormones and optimize them through healthy lifestyle changes.
Dr. Amy Killen’s tip on how to increase libido in women: “I would recommend getting all these hormones checked. … The good news is we have some better testing, better ways to be able to look at your hormones and really give you more information about what’s going on.”
4. Support the structures
Talking about the libido without highlighting the sexual organs is like talking about bread without mentioning the flour. And it’s important to understand how to support them.
The female sexual organs — the vagina, uterus, fallopian tubes, and ovaries — can be found in the pelvis. Lining the bottom of the pelvis, are several muscles called the pelvic floor muscles.
When it comes to sexual function, these muscles have a number of essential responsibilities:
- Help push blood into the clitoris and keep it there during sex.
- Increases the feeling of pleasure during vaginal penetration.
- Contracts during orgasm.
While pelvic floor muscles are important for sex, they can become too weak or tight. So looking into whether yours is the former or latter can help you explore exercises to strengthen or relax it.
Dr. Amy Killen’s tip on how to increase libido in women: “There’s a couple of different gadgets out there now that can be used,” including transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) devices, gamified Kegels, and intravaginal red light therapy.
Great Sex Starts With You
Sex is like a great connector, according to Dr. Killen. Not only does it connect you to your partner (if you have one), but more importantly, it’s connecting you to yourself.
So if you’re amped up about changing your sexual health and, ultimately, your sex life, explore more with Dr. Killen in her The Science of Great Sex Quest. Register a Mindvalley account and you can check out the first few lessons for free.
“Less stress, more sex,” goes the saying. Or should it be “more sex, less stress”? Find out at Mindvalley.