10 sexy mood killers

Siski Green / 11 September 2013

From a pile of washing up to a plate of pasta – find out the surprising sexy-mood killers.



You know that changes in hormones can affect both men and women’s sex drives as they go beyond 50, you probably also know that being overweight or obese has a negative impact on libido... but there are other things that also stymie your sex life. Find out what they are here.

Find out about the health benefits of sex.

Carbohydrates make you sleepy

If you’ve seen Disney’s Lady and the Tramp, you can be forgiven for thinking that spaghetti, at least, is a romantic food. It’s not. There’s a reason you always feel tired after a big plate of pasta. “White pasta is a high glycaemic index food,” says nutritionist Farah Cleret.

“This means it is a very simple carbohydrate and is broken down very quickly into sugar and released into the bloodstream. Very much like sugar, it causes a short, initial high followed by a 'crash' as insulin is released quickly to try and clear this sudden influx from the blood. This is what causes the energy crash. Insulin also stimulates the release of tryptophan, an amino acid which has a sleep inducing effect.”

Clear the household chores

Getting the household jobs out of the way paves the way for romance and sex. Why? There are two reasons. “Helping whoever usually does a task like the washing up is a demonstration of affection and love, which helps nurture romantic feelings,” says sex therapist Dr Ian Kerner (www.goodinbed.com). “And also it allows that person to relax, which is necessary before having sex.”

A full English breakfast

Who doesn’t love eggs and bacon on a Sunday morning? But regular fry-ups can make erectile dysfunction more likely. “A diet high in fat causes arteries to get clogged up,” says registered nutritionist Carina Norris, author of The Food Manual (Haynes). “Those same arteries supply his penis with blood.”

Lack of masturbation

You might think that spending time giving yourself an orgasm is a sure-fire way to remove your desire for your partner, but research shows the opposite is true. According to a study published in the American Journal of Medicine, men who orgasmed at least once a week were 50% less likely to suffer with erectile dysfunction (the inability to get an erection) than those who came less often. 

And women? “Orgasms beget orgasms,” says Kerner. “The more often a woman climaxes, the more her body is primed for sex. It improves muscle tone and sexual response.”

Tofu and soya milk

It’s a healthy alternative to cow’s milk... but like every food you can get too much of a good thing. Studies on rats have found that soya (or rather daidzein, a substance in soya products) produces softer erections, as well as lower sperm counts. While these results don’t necessarily mean the same is true of humans, it might be worth sticking to no more than three servings of soya per week.

A stressful life event

A big and traumatic life event can have long-lasting repercussions in your sex life. But it needn’t be as dramatic as a death, simply being stressed about a work situation is enough to put you off getting naked. “Long-term stress leads to high blood pressure,” says Kerer. “That can damage blood vessels, which means less blood flow to your penis.” Similarly, for women, stress can make it difficult to relax, reducing libido too.

Find out about enjoying sex with erectile dysfunction.

Your oestrogen levels

That might sound like a joke, but it’s not. “Oestrogen helps boost your mood, it helps maintain a woman’s interest in sex, making it more pleasurable,” says Kerner. “As your oestrogen levels fall naturally, one of the best ways you can try to maintain it is via sex.” More sex = more oestrogen = more desire for sex. Simple!

Find out how ageing can affect women sexually.

Your hormone replacement therapy

You’d think that taking a hormone medication would help with libido, and for some women it may do, but some women who take HRT find that their testosterone levels fall as a result of HRT. Testosterone is needed for sexual arousal in women and men. Always check with your GP, however, before stopping your medication.

A depressive disorder

Depression is a big downer for your sexual libido. Thankfully medication can help – although not all anti-depressants work this way and some can actually lower libido. Check with your GP and find out which medications you might be able to use (or stop using) to help with your lower libido.

Try a holiday deal

Perhaps unsurprisingly, a holiday can do wonders for your libido. In fact, a study undertaken by the Berman Centre, US, found that couples who go on holidays together once or twice a year are more intimate with each other than those who go out on a weekly basis on a ‘date’. It could be down to sunshine increasing feel-good hormones, it could be down to the fact you’re more relaxed... but whatever it is, it works! And who needs another excuse to go on holiday?

Read our tips for having better sex.

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

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