My boyfriend wants sex a lot more than I do

A lack of parity in sexual attraction causes serious, often unsolvable, problems says Suzi Godson.

Q. I’M in my early 30s and have been with my boyfriend for a couple of years. I feel that our libidos are mismatched — he wants sex a lot more than I do. 

Are there ways I could increase my sex drive? I’ve read about herbal libido boosters that also increase pleasure. Do they work?

A. Medicinal plants have been used to treat illness and improve fertility for centuries, but the lack of adequate investigation into the efficacy of plant-derived “libido boosters” means that we just don’t know what works and what doesn’t. 

The internet is awash with “natural” products promising to increase sex drive. However, very few of the claims they make are supported by scientific evidence.

The market for herbal aphrodisiacs and treatments is so big that in 2007 the Annual Review of Sex Research published a review of existing research into pro-sexual plant derivatives and herbs. 

The review found little evidence to support the effectiveness of ingredients such as yohimbine, ginseng, gingko and damiana in women in particular, and identified many possible side-effects.

Instead, I would suggest you boost your libido by eating natural foods such as shellfish, salmon, saffron, chilli, walnuts, watermelon, pomegranate, dark chocolate and all the other delicious foods that have been respected as aphrodisiacs for thousands of years.

Avoid too much alcohol, as it can dull the senses. However a study from the University of Florence, published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine, found that women who drank some red wine every day had higher levels of sexual desire and better vaginal lubrication. 

Doing regular aerobic exercise will also improve blood flow around your body and naturally increase endorphins, which boosts energy, mood and sexual responsiveness.

One other thing that you might want to consider is the kind of contraception that you are using. With some women, the pill can reduce levels of testosterone, which can lower libido.

I do, however, have a word of warning. Sex is a pretty good barometer of the health of any relationship, and if you are not particularly interested in having sex with your boyfriend after only two years together, in what state will your sex life be in 10 years’ time? 

There is no “pop a pill” solution to sexual apathy, and although diet, exercise and minimising stress can help, if mismatched libidos are an issue at this relatively early stage, you need to think about whether this is the right relationship for you in the long term.

The problem of mismatched libidos is sometimes caused by relational difficulties and lack of communication, but often it boils down to a simple lack of physical attraction. 

When you really like someone as a person it can be easy to dismiss the importance of sexual chemistry, but in a long-term relationship a lack of parity in sexual attraction causes serious, often unsolvable, problems. 

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