sex and relationships

Firing Up Sexual Desire

couple smiling at one anotherWhether you're living with your soulmate, trying to improve a current relationship, searching for the right person, or settled into being solo, you may be missing the sexual spark you once had and are wondering where it went. Dark chocolate is great, but—let's face it—it's not a permanent solution.

Having a satisfying sexual life, with or without a partner, is good for you (provided, of course, that you use protection to avoid sexually transmitted diseases or an unwanted pregnancy).

Being sexually active burns calories, keeps your vaginal muscles in shape and may help alleviate a host of health problems, including depression, stress, pain, headaches and maybe even colds. Midlife and older women who say they are in good health also often report that they have active sex lives, while those who rate their health as poor have less sex.

Still, lost desire extends beyond the simple division of healthy and not healthy. Many otherwise healthy women (and men) experience low or no sexual desire—one of the three most common sexual problems—as do many others who have chronic medical conditions along with sexual difficulties. One 2007 study noted that about half of all women experience some type of sexual dysfunction during their lives, with low sexual desire accounting for the majority of those problems.

If this is your situation, you may believe there's nothing you can do about waning desire, that it's an inevitable result of menopause, aging, health, body changes or being without a partner. Well, think again.

"We can convince ourselves out of desire," says sexuality researcher Laura Carpenter, PhD, an assistant professor of sociology at Vanderbilt University in Nashville. The good news is, by taking a few simple actions, we can find or regain sexual desire.

Where did it go?