06/27/2014 11:36 am ET Updated Aug 27, 2014

How to Supercharge Your Sex Drive

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By Tara Weng for

Think you're the only one with a relationship in a sexual slump? Well, you're not alone. In fact, research shows that 15 to 20 percent of romantic relationships in the United States are "sexless," which is defined as when a couple has sex less than once a month or less than 10 times a year.

With busy lives, demanding jobs, families etc., it's not an uncommon phenomenon to find yourself ready to hit the sheets for sleep rather than for a steamy romp in the sack. Fortunately, with a few tweaks in your diet, your daily activities and maybe a change in attitude, you can rev up an idling engine in the sex department. Here's advice from experts that will help you overcome some sexual hurdles and boost your libido.

Increase Dopamine

It turns out that a low libido can be traced to what's in your head -- literally. The mechanisms by which a healthy libido is fostered, including desire and arousal, are controlled by brain chemicals called neurotransmitters.

To improve your sex drive, you first need to tackle neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin and hormones like testosterone.

"Any food that increases blood flow and enhances stimulation can work," says marriage and sex therapist, Dr. Jane Greer. Among the foods which increase dopamine are:

  • Banana: This fruit is a good source of tyrosine. Tyrosine is the amino acid nerve cells turn into norepinephrine and dopamine
  • Cheese and other dairy products are well-known protein food: Protein provides amino acids, which help produce dopamine.
  • Watermelon: Watermelon juice is a bonus just by being fat free and loaded with vitamins A, B6, and C. Vitamin B6 is used by the body to produce neurotransmitters such as serotonin, melatonin and dopamine.

To improve your sex drive, you first need to tackle neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin and hormones like testosterone.

"Any food that increases blood flow and enhances stimulation can work," says marriage and sex therapist Dr. Jane Greer.

Raise Your Natural Testosterone Levels

"Exercise increases your natural levels of testosterone (normally associated with men, but women produce it every day as well), which is an important factor in sexual health," says founder of the Loveology University Dr. Ava Cadell.

In fact, testosterone plays a big role in stimulating desire, increasing libido and helping to ensure sexual satisfaction. Currently testosterone is not approved by the FDA to treat sexual dysfunction in women, but the agency has looked at its potential, including a testosterone gel.

Endurance and resistance training both seem to boost testosterone levels among their participants. This includes exercise like weight lifting, but short bursts of the hormone may diminish over time.

In terms of treatments on the horizon, there have been a number of studies conducted on the efficacy of certain drugs on low libido in women, but so far no one has been approved by the FDA (currently there are 24 FDA approved drugs on the market for men).

For now, physicians may look at hormonal reasons why your libido is lagging and treat with therapies containing estrogen and androgen hormones.

If you're concerned about your lack of interest or performance anxiety, you should contact your physician for further information as there are several underlying medical conditions which can affect your sexual function.

Sleep, Talk and Change Things up!

There are two levels to sexual activity: Desire and the actual physical sexual expression, according to Dr. Greer. Without energy, your desire can diminish, so anything that can spike your energy can also have a positive effect on you wanting to do the deed. "Sleeping enables you to feel refreshed, re-energized and in touch with your sexual desire," says Dr. Greer.

When it comes to desire and arousal, a big momentum shift can occur by just communicating what you want and how you want it to your partner.

"Give your partner a wish list of two things that will heighten a romantic or sexual experience for you both," suggests Dr. Cadell.

"For sex, changing the time you have it, the positions, and/or adding background music (or changing it if you already use some) can all freshen up a routine," advises Dr. Greer. "The smaller, more subtle changes can have a huge impact and go a long way."


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