The study, published in the BMJ Open, found 34% of women and 15% of men reported lacking interest in sex. Half of these people – 62% of women and 53% of men – said their lack of interest was distressing to them.
In light of this, HuffPost UK spoke to Relate sex therapist Peter Saddington about how to get your desire back.
Saddington, a sex therapist working in the Midlands and chair of the College of Sexual and Relationship Therapists (COSRT) said there are a number of reasons why women lose interest in sex, from motherhood to mental health issues.
“A common one is if you’ve just had children or you’ve got young children and you’re feeling tired, or you haven’t got much time, or you’re not feeling as attractive as you used to be,” he said.
“Another common reason that’s often not talked about is mental health and depression. If you’re feeling depressed, you’re quite likely to start losing your libido.”
Tips on how to increase libido:
1. Communicate more
“The first thing is to acknowledge it, and actually recognise that something is different instead of having it pointed out or ignoring it,” Saddington said.
“The second thing is to start talking about it with your partner because it’s quite likely your partner will have noticed and it might be causing tension within the relationship.
“Talking about it brings it out in the open, you’re acknowledging that you’re not having the same sexual desire and then you’ve got the chance to think about what you might want to do differently to regain that desire.”
Coincidentally, people who took part in the latest study and found it easy to talk about sex with their partner were less likely to report lacking interest in sex.
2. Make time for date nights
Saddington is a key believer in the power of date night.
“Consider having a date night and allowing yourself time so there’s a build-up rather than becoming sexual very quickly,” he advised.
“If you’re allowing yourself to relax and feel good about yourself, and you’re not associating yourself with purely being a mother who is harassed and hasn’t got enough time, you might notice you’ve got some resurgence of interest and arousal.”
3. Build up an emotional connection
Date nights are also important for building up an emotional connection, he explained.
“Men can get aroused by looking and thinking about things, it’s far more visual, whereas women are much more about emotional connection,” he said.
“If you’ve spent time together and you’ve spent time talking, you’re more likely to want to have sex.”
It’s also important to resolve any issues, “as underlying resentment will stop you feeling desire”.
4. Focus on your mental health
For people whose libido has suffered as a result of depression or anxiety, dealing with the mental illness and speaking to your GP can help.
To bring back some form of arousal, Saddington advised trying exercise and focusing on activities which are likely to make you feel good or increase your sense of wellbeing.
“In fact, exercise in general is a good thing as it will help to release different chemicals, endorphins, which will make you feel good about yourself,” he said.
“If you’re feeling good about yourself you’re more likely to feel sexual.”
5. Work at it
The sex therapist said he’s witnessed a lot of older women who have entered new relationships but have then experienced low sexual desire as time went on. He said it’s important to remember that you have to work at relationships and libido.
“At the beginning there’s lust, there’s a sense of bonding, but fairly quickly it moves on and, part of the ageing process is that we don’t always have such high libido,” he said.
“In those cases, you need to set time aside to create the opportunity rather than it just being there on tap. You need to work on it.”
6. Don’t worry
If you’re worried about your lack of sexual desire, please don’t be.
“For both men and women, it’s fairly common to notice a dip in libido,” said Saddington.
“There can be physical reasons for it - ill health, tiredness, anxiety, feeling overworked - and there can be psychological reasons - becoming parents, stress at work, anxiety, depression. It can be a mixture of reasons and it doesn’t have to be that everybody’s got the same level of libido all the time.
“It needs to be normalised that everybody has periods of time where they’re not so sexual. It’s about how you manage it and talk about it, rather than it getting ignored or forgotten, that’s important.”