7 common reasons for low sex drive and how to rev it up
1. StressIt’s difficult to relax and enjoy sex when you have problems at work or money issues to worry about, or if you’re mentally and physically exhausted. “Stress and its affects on sex life is a general phenomenon that applies to both men and women,” says Dr. Alex Alterescu, a Toronto-based medical sexologist and sex therapist. “When lives are busy, intimacy often gets neglected.”
What you can do:Dr. Alterescu recommends you organize your time in such a way to ensure that the relationship is not ignored. Relaxing together is a great start: Watch a movie, go for a walk, do yoga.
2. DepressionDepression – an overwhelming sadness and fatigue that interferes with daily life – is often accompanied by lack of interest in sex. “To help with depression, your physician may prescribe counseling or medications or both,” explains Dr. John Lamont, a gynecologist practicing in the sexual medicine unit at Hamilton Health Sciences. “Medication should help with depression, but may take a further toll on your interest in sex.”
What you can do:If you’re taking drugs for depression that affect your sex drive, discuss adjusting your medications with your doctor. And if you’re experiencing very mild depression, rest, relaxation, lifestyle changes and exercise can help improve your mood and energy, and may increase your interest in sex.
3. MedicationsLike medications for depression, other drugs such as those taken for blood pressure, allergies and occasionally birth control pills can affect hormones, reducing sex drive, or lubrication in the vaginal area. Medical conditions that go along with these drugs often also affect hormone levels and libido.
What you can do:Ask your doctor about alternative medications. “Sometimes a simple switch in medications will make all the difference – not everyone reacts the same way to a drug,” says Dr. Lamont. If medications, such as antihistamines for allergies, cause vaginal dryness, ask your doctor to recommend a topical estrogen cream or a lubricant.
4. Issues in the relationship“Physiologically, women and men have hormonal differences that may affect their interest in sex,” says Dr. Alterescu. These differences may affect the sexual dynamic between the couple. However, negative relationship factors, such as anger, resentment or even boredom, also influence desire. What you can do: Deal with negative feelings when they arise, before resentment grows, instead of ignoring them. Dr. Alterescu recommends these strategies: Find ways to communicate positively with each other, introduce variety into your lovemaking to stimulate desire and deal with underlying relationship issues; seek counseling if necessary.
5. Childbirth/breastfeeding“Traumatic labour and delivery and subsequent scarring may cause ongoing pain, and have a long-term effect that can interfere with the enjoyment of sex,” says Dr. Lamont. “Breastfeeding causes estrogen levels to drop, and in some women, this causes vaginal dryness. Also, the hormone prolactin rises, which may lower sex drive.” Add lack of sleep and stress about a new baby and it’s easy to see why new mothers often lack interest in sex. What you can do: “Allow three to six months healing time after childbirth,” says Dr. Lamont. He also recommends talking about your feelings with people you trust to help ease your stress and ultimately elevate your interest in sex. For dryness, your doctor can recommend a lubricant or estrogen cream. Nursing moms can use them safely – they work locally without any side effects.
6. Negative body imageWeight problems or other issues around negative body image may affect your ability to feel confident and sexual, even if it isn’t of paramount importance to your mate, explains Dr. Alterescu.
What you can do:Do your best to feel your sexiest. Put on a great dress, get a new haircut, exercise to help control your weight. This will increase your energy, your self image and ultimately can improve your interest in sex. If this isn’t enough, counseling may be a helpful and positive step.
7. MenopauseAs menopause approaches, estrogen drops and vaginal dryness occurs. Testosterone may also decrease, which may lead to a loss of sexual desire. All these factors may affect your ability to enjoy sex or your comfort with intercourse. Also, aging male partners may be experience issues with performance.
What you can do:Vaginal dryness is easiest to address first, with estrogen cream and lubricants, says Dr. Lamont. “Then have your testosterone level checked. See your doctor with your partner, so that you can get a clear understanding of what’s realistic and normal.” And explore options, such as medications for erectile dysfunction, foreplay, fantasizing and erotic materials, to wake up your sex drive.
6 ways to make your kid a money genius
Did you know that parents are the number-one influencer on their kids’ financial behaviour? If you’re reading this and are a bit worried because you’re not the greatest with your money—or you’re not exactly sure how to approach the subject of teaching kids about money—don’t panic! There are many ways to make your kid money smart, even if you’re not. That’s exactly what journalist and commentator Beth Kobliner’s latest book, Make Your Kid a Money Genius (Even If You’re Not), is all about.
- Get over being uncomfortable when talking about money with your kids Talking about money, says Kobliner, is the last remaining taboo. “Teaching kids the basics of money nowadays is important to help them get a better sense of what’s around them,” says Kobliner. “This will give them the confidence they’ll eventually need to save, get out of debt, and invest.” There are different techniques to use that will stick with kids, such as using anecdotes when you launch into lecture mode. In her book, Kobliner cites an example of a neighbour who saved religiously for ten years, putting aside one percent of every paychecque so he could buy his dream fishing boat. And if you’re mathphobic, you’ll have to get over the fear of talking with numbers. Using figures will make an impact on your kid. Kobliner also says parents of girls should be careful to talk about money with them as much as you do your sons. “Studies say sons express more confidence about money,” she says.
- Start talking about money early What age do you think you should start teaching your kid about money? Start earlier than that, says Kobliner. You don’t have to go to extreme lengths to do it, either. “Everyday moments in life can be used as teachable moments,” she says. Toddlers are eager and observe actions like swiping credit cards, pushing button at the ATM, or looking through a wallet to pull out money. Instead of just being amused by their curiosity, Kobliner says it’s important to teach toddlers about where money comes from and how you pay for things. In a technological age of being able to pay for things with a tap of your phone, kids are less likely to grasp what’s happening, says Kobliner. “If a parent goes to the store to buy juice boxes and pulls out $20, but the kid says to just use the credit card instead, they probably don’t know that cards are also money,” she says.
- Be straightforward with your kids, but don’t overshare One of the most basic rules when it comes to teaching kids about money is to not lie to them, says Kobliner. “When a child says they really want something at the store, it’s natural for busy parents to steer away and just say they don’t have their wallet on them,” says Kobliner. “In this scenario, parents should be straightforward and say ‘I don’t think we need to spend that money right now’ or ‘today’s not the day to buy that.’” Even if giving in to your kid’s needs a couple of times seen like a little thing, they add up. And if you say you can’t afford to buy her that toy but later pull out a credit card to buy something else, your kid won’t trust you later on. In her book, she also touches upon how parents shouldn’t lie about their money past, but it’s important not to overshare, either.
- Teach them self-control Teaching kids to wait for what they want is key. “There’s a study that says that if a child’s self-control isn’t strong and you give in, over time, that child is more likely to misuse credit cards,” says Kobliner. A regular allowance can teach kids these concepts.
- Play the wants vs. needs game It may seem obvious to adults, but preschoolers don’t always know how to distinguish things that they want and things that they need. Kobliner says this simple-but-crucial distinction is the foundation for teaching your kid how to make wise spending choices. You don’t have to use fancy examples, either. When at the grocery store, compare two items—such as apples and cookies—and ask her which one you need and which one you want. Get her to put the items that are needed into the grocery cart.
- Be a role model By age seven, kids have already developed money habits. But, as the book’s title states, this doesn’t necessarily mean that your kids will develop bad habits if you have bad money habits. Exposing your kid to concepts little by little will make a difference, says Kobliner. For example, you can bring your kid to your bank and talk about how your money is kept safe there, or mention that sometimes there’s an extra bit of money called interest.
When the news is crushing you, but you can’t look away
The relentlessness of the news cycle over the last month has people glued to their social feeds even more than usual, and, consequently, feeling more anxiety. But a “digital detox” doesn’t seem like an option when shutting off your phone even for a day feels akin to turning a blind eye to important world events. Chatelaine asked Dr. Donna Ferguson, a psychologist at Toronto’s Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, how you can protect your mental health while staying informed.
1. Recognize that the news can affect your mood Bad news stories are a part of life, but when the headlines seem endless, it can definitely take a toll, says Dr. Ferguson. “It can affect everybody, but for people who have a vulnerability, like post-traumatic stress or a history of mental health or anxiety issues, it can actually be the thing that tips you over the edge and becomes a real problem.”
Watch for warning signs like irritability, low mood and the instinct to isolate yourself — all signs that you might need to step back from social media or watching the news. “If you feel like the stress is starting to erode your normal daily functioning, whether it’s at work or in your personal life, it’s time to practice some self-care.”
2. Be aware of how you engage with the news “Set boundaries” is a common refrain, but it’s also often hard advice to follow, since people engage with the news in different ways. So try to identify the actions that tend to cause you feel anxious or depressed, Ferguson says. If checking your news feed feels okay, but engaging with commenters is what drags you down, draw a line.
If scrolling through headlines alone is too much, schedule breaks and stick to them. And try setting filters on your news feeds so that you’re not following sites that are particularly sensationalist and could tempt you into engaging, she says.
3. Be careful that “staying in the loop” doesn’t turn into a compulsion Most of us display addictive behaviours in relation to our mobile devices without even knowing it, Ferguson says. “It can be unhealthy, especially if it’s the first thing you check in the morning, and the last thing you do before going to bed,” she says. If a fear of missing out is keeping you glued to your device more than usual, start breaking the habit by making a point of putting your phone on silent when you’re involved in another activity, so alerts don’t pull you back in.
4. Don’t aggrandize the role social media plays in keeping you informed The chance of you actually missing out on something major if you take a break from scrolling is low. “What you’ll find is that even when you’re not engaging on social media and you engage with friends and colleagues instead – those people will still share the news,” Ferguson says.
5. Find the time to do something positive Countering negativity by engaging in something practical and positive can be helpful, says Dr. Ferguson. Even small things, like volunteering for an organization that is meaningful to you, can make you feel more in control. “It’s an important step in feeling like you are part of the solution, as opposed to the problem,” she says.
The easiest way to save more than $1,370 a year
The 20 essential foods for weight loss
- Salmon – An oily fish rich in protein and omega 3 fats – both beneficial for weight loss.
- Lemons – Lemons act as a natural astringent in the body and help to promote healthy digestion. Squeeze one thick lemon wedge into warm or hot water 1-2x per day.
- Green leafy vegetables – In general, the more green foods you eat, the better. Broccoli, spinach, kale and collard greens are all low in calories and rich in nutrients that will help to boost energy. Green leafy vegetables are also alkaline and offer anti-inflammatory properties.
- Blueberries – A naturally sweet low glycemic index fruit that will not fluctuate blood sugar and is also rich in anti-oxidants. Fresh or frozen will do!
- Apples - Rich in fiber and low in calories, apples are the perfect “grab and go” weight loss snack.
- Grapefruit – One serving of grapefruit has only 53 calories and 2 grams of fiber. Research has shown that eating grapefruit before meals can actually help weight loss seekers lose more weight.
- Greek yogurt – Offering more than 2x the protein as regular yogurt, opt for half a cup of Greek yogurt topped with ½ cup of fruit and 1 tablespoon of hemp hearts for a perfectly balanced breakfast option.
- Sprouted grain bread – Sprouted grains are lower on the glycemic index, easier to digest and rich in fiber. This makes them an ideal choice for a “weight loss grain”. Keep sprouted grain bread in your fridge or freezer to ensure it lasts longer.
- Organic eggs – Eggs are one of the most perfect weight loss foods available. With 6 grams of protein per egg, you can’t go wrong.
- Tuna – Tuna’s high protein content makes it an excellent addition to the diet. Protein is a key macronutrient necessary for weight loss and should comprise approximately 30% of your total caloric intake. In fact, a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that people who boosted their protein intake from 15 to 30 percent of their daily calorie intake felt more satisfied and full and dropped weight and body fat. When eating canned tuna, select tuna packed in water and light vs. white tuna as it has less mercury.
- Vegetable soup – All vegetables are free with the exception of white potatoes and corn. I highly recommend keeping a delicious vegetable soup on hand to snack on at any time. For my free weight loss soup recipe, click here.
- Avocados – In addition to squashing hunger and offering a multitude of “good for you” nutrients - avocados are also chock full of monounsaturated fat and have been shown to reduce fat deposition around the belly area.
- Walnuts – Walnuts offer more omega 3 than any other nut. Omega 3 nuts have been shown to balance blood sugar and are also beneficial for boosting metabolism.
- Almonds – Almonds are rich in monounsaturated fats which will help stabilize blood sugar, help keep you full for longer and also offer a good source of fiber. Keep 10-15 almonds on you in case a “snack attack” does hit.
- Coconut oil – Coconut oil contains a unique blend of fatty acids that have been shown to have a positive effect on metabolism and to reduces appetite. Some researchers recommend enjoying ½ tsp of coconut oil 20 minutes prior to each meal to maintain blood sugar and reduce hunger.
- Hemp hearts – Hemp hearts are the shelled interior of the hemp seed and are roughly the size of the sesame seed. Just 3 tbsp of hemp hearts offers 10 grams of vegetarian protein!
- Ground flaxseeds – Ground flaxseeds are a great addition to the diet as they are chock full of omega 3 fat and fiber, which will fill you up and stabilize blood sugars. With only 37 calories in 1 tablespoon, flaxseeds are an easy addition to add to yogurt, salads or in baking. Refer to my microwave muffin recipe here to enjoy a flax filled grain free, dairy free breakfast muffin.
- Olives and/or olive oil – Olives and olive oils are an excellent source of monounsaturated fats that have been shown to be extremely heart healthy, help to fill you up and are ideal for weight loss. When purchasing anvolive oil, invest in one in a dark bottle and one that is labeled extra virgin olive oil (from the first pressing of the grape).
- Cinnamon – This warming spice has been shown to help balance blood sugars and to assist with glucose metabolism. Both of these mechanisms are beneficial for weight loss and burning belly fat. Add cinnamon to your morning coffee and/or to your baking or microwave muffin recipe.
- Green tea – Green tea contains a chemical component called EGCG which helps to boost metabolism and burn belly fat. Research shows 2-3 cups of green tea per day to be effective for weight loss.