Not in the Mood? Why You Should Have Sex Anyway
In long-term relationships, it's crucial that both partners are satisfied with their sex life. The actual ideal frequency of sex for you and your significant other —whether it's twice a month or twice a day—isn't necessarily important, but having sex often enough to satisfy both of you decreases your risk of relationship problems. This idea is supported by research, with one study in particular that examined six years' worth of data for over 1,000 couples. In the study, researchers found that couples with the highest self-reported sexual satisfaction, regardless of how often they actually had sex, had an 80 percent lower risk of divorce than those who weren't satisfied in the bedroom.
Benefits of Sex
Regular sex also confers physical health benefits. Having sex strengthens your immune system, reduces stress, lowers your blood pressure, boosts your mood, improves your memory and reduces your risk of stroke, heart disease, and prostate cancer. If you could get all of these health benefits and more just by participating in an enjoyable, relationship-strengthening activity, why wouldn't you?
Why You Should Have Sex Even if You're Not in the Mood
For one, giving in to low libido often creates a vicious cycle. Not having sex can actually further reduce your sex drive. One study, published in the American Journal of Medicine in 2008, found that men who had sex infrequently were twice as likely as other men to develop erectile dysfunction in the future. The same basic effect applies to women, with women who have infrequent sex being more likely to become unable to self-lubricate and become aroused in the future. A vigorous sex life likely improves libido because of the stimulating effect it has on the physical body—the nerves and blood vessels in the genital region get "exercise," so to speak.
We often think of the sexual response cycle as being strictly linear, with arousal preceding the sexual act. However, for many people this is not always the case. If you wait until you're in the mood to have sex with your partner, you may end up not having sex for a very long time. A more effective way to deal with low libido is to have sex even if you're not in the mood, and allow the sex itself to arouse you once it has started. The more often you're able to do this, the stronger your sex drive can become, not only because of the benefits for your nervous and cardiovascular systems, but also because having sex with your partner and perhaps having an orgasm can remind you of what you've been missing and motivate you to have sex more often.
Healthy Habits Also Boost Sex Drive
In addition to having sex even when you're not in the mood, there are other steps you can take to improve your sex drive. Regular exercise, plenty of sleep, and a good diet can go a long way toward making you feel your best. Many supplements, such as maca, ginseng, B-vitamins and ginger are clinically proven to improve libido, whether it be through balancing your hormones or through boosting your mood and energy, as is the case with B-vitamins.
In order to keep your relationship as strong as possible, it shouldn't be out of the question to consider having sex even when you're not in the mood for the sake of fulfilling the needs of your significant other. Having mismatched libidos can cause a rift in the relationship for many couples. The partner with the higher sex drive can begin to feel rejected, and the lower-libido partner may feel pressured or guilty.
This dilemma can be remedied if the lower-libido half of the couple chooses to meet the other's sexual needs anyway. This has been proven by a new study, published in The Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. Researchers followed couples' sex lives and relationship satisfaction for 21 days. 80 percent of the couples involved in the study reported that they could recall a time when their partner was in the mood for sex, while they were not. Those who had sex when they weren't in the mood for the sake of their partner's happiness tended to be in better relationships. It wasn't just the higher-libido partner who was happier, either; this benefited both sides of the relationship.
Of course, none of this means that you should force yourself to have sex every time your partner wants to or vice-versa. Rather, research suggests that it is helpful for your relationship to cultivate a little more selflessness in the bedroom. Meeting your partner halfway even just once in a while can make a world of difference.