libido hibernation Illustration by Sophi Gullbrants

Have you ever heard of “libido hibernation?” No? Well, do I have news for you.

Seasonal depression” is a buzzword these days. From light therapy to weighted blankets to juicing, there is no end to products and suggestions that can help us treat the winter blues. Don’t get me wrong here: Winter depression is absolutely a thing. Medical professionals say that a lack of sunlight can contribute to poorer sleep quality, anxiety, and sadness. You need that vitamin D to function. To compound the issue, seasonal depression can also get your libido into a funk. 

We also hear a lot about how “Cuffing Season” can lead to more sex: You’re bored, you’re stuck inside, and you’re cozied up to your boo. You may as well have a lot of sex, right? But what if this doesn’t work for you? If you have seasonal depression, getting it on may be the last thing on your mind.

“Libido hibernation” is basically winter depression that comes in hot (cold?) to screw with your sex drive. “The research regarding weather and libido is scant, although there are some correlations between mood and weather,” says sex and relationship therapist Cyndi Darnell. “Libido is undeniably connected to mood. While a drop in libido is hardly ever due to just one thing, the weather can have a big impact.”

Since spring is nigh, it’s time to kick your sex drive back into gear after a winterlong respite. Suns out, buns out, after all. Let’s talk about some tips on how to jumpstart your libido now that winter is finally coming to a close.

Pay attention to your energy levels

A big culprit for a missing libido is a lack of energy. During the winter it’s hard not to be basically a blanket burrito for months on end, but this is not so great for your health (or sex life). Darnell says you should see if your energy levels are dulled in various areas of your life.

“Maintaining great digestion and getting blood flowing into the genitals is a fun way to start developing a relationship with your body again.”

Take stock of where you’ve been lacking. Have you stopped socializing? Have you given up grooming? Have to stop eating healthily in favor of snacks? “Regardless of your gender, these things can take a toll on our self-esteem and wellbeing,” Darnell explains.

Get back to eating healthy foods and get to the gym

After being sedentary all winter, your libido can feel like a distant friend you never hang out with anymore. That’s because your libido is directly linked to your health. To get it moving again, you need to get your digestive tract going. Drink lots of water and get your butt back on the healthy eating plan you’ve (probably) let fall to the wayside. 

When your digestion is on track, your libido is on track. “Maintaining great digestion and getting blood flowing into the genitals is a fun way to start developing a relationship with your body again after hibernating all winter,” Darnell says. 

On that same note, get your body moving. Studies show that exercise can help with mood, feelings of well-being, and sexual health. When you feel good, you start to feel desire come back into your life.

Go out in the sun

The main factor that causes seasonal depression and subsequent low libido isn’t the cold weather, it’s the lack of sunlight. Lucy Rowett, a clinical sexologist and certified sex coach, points out that spending time outdoors is directly linked to feeling up for sex.

Why? It’s that good old vitamin D. (And no, there is no double entendre there … or is there?!)

Vitamin D can have an effect on estrogen levels, causing a lowered sex drive in people who do not have enough of it. In male-bodied people, having low vitamin D lowers testosterone, having a similarly negative impact on libido. Try to get about 10 to 15 minutes of sunlight each day. Just be sure you’re wearing an SFP 30 or higher.

“The number one way to get libidos moving again is by assessing the quality, not quantity of the sex we are having.”

Additionally, being outside helps calm your mood. Being indoors for a long period of time isn’t great for anyone’s wellbeing. It helps to get out into open space, stretch your legs, and breathe fresh air into your lungs.

Refocus your sexual routine (and prioritize it)

What makes sex great isn’t that tear-each-other’s-clothes-off, need-you-right-now rush of oxytocin that couples have in the first few months or years of a relationship. What keeps sex fiery AF is novelty: Keeping things fresh and new in your sex life. 

Darnell says to address this when you’re looking to jumpstart the old sex drive. The idea is to have quality sex, not a bunch of “meh” sex. The “number one way to get libidos moving again is by assessing the quality, not quantity of the sex we are having,” Darnell tells us.

Couples don’t always have the language or skills to get the sex life they want. This can be a real hindrance to getting the spark lit. Darnell suggests asking yourself the following questions: Do you talk about pleasure with your partner(s)? Do you know how to ask for what you want? Do you even know what you like and how you want to experience pleasure? What’s stopping you from making sex a priority in your life and your conversations?

If you can begin to think on, process, and ultimately answer these questions, you’ll be on your way to waking up your hibernating libido. Darnell says: “In order to get [our sex drive] back, we have to make it as important as everything else of value in our lives. My online course The Desire Series helps people find their groove and keep it that way.”

Start to explore your body and fantasies

You don’t need to go back to the same old, same old after a long winter’s dry spell. Rowett suggests taking this time to explore fantasy, sex toys, and other sexual desires. When we get ourselves excited about sexual exploration, it boosts our desire for sex in all areas of our life, both within a couple and with ourselves. 

“Celebrate your body, buy yourself new lingerie and clear out your crusty old panties,” she suggests. “Start getting more educated about sex and sexuality and commit to explore yours. Commit to starting a pleasure practice and doing more of what turns you on. Remember that your sexuality is just as important as the rest of you, so really nurture it.”

This kind of self-exploration helps to satiate that need for novelty and excitement when it comes to sex. When we’re newly excited about our bodies, our confidence, and our sexual selves, we’re better able to bring it back into the bedroom for frisky adventures with our partner(s).

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