Watching sad movies
A recent study in Israel showed that women’s tears dampen men’s arousal. So Hubby may not be that eager for sex after you’ve watched a weepy flick.

You, however, may be keen on getting it on. That’s because when you cry as you empathise with a character in a sad movie, your brain releases a hormone called ocytocin, dubbed the “love hormone”.

Says Professor Ganesan Adaikan, clinical sexologist at the National University Hospital: “Oxytocin is commonly associated with human bonding. Interestingly, it is also released when we orgasm, so there is a possibility that crying may actually help boost the woman’s libido.”

But your tears won’t do the same for your husband’s sex drive – especially if he wasn’t affected by the sad story onscreen!

High blood sugar (diabetes)
Men with higher blood sugar levels are more likely to suffer from erectile dysfunction (ED). “To maintain an erection, men need to have healthy blood vessels and nerves. Diabetes damages them, so while your husband’s desire to have sex may remain unaffected, he would have difficulty keeping a firm erectoin,” says Prof Adaikan. And this could potentially affect his emotions and thus, his libido. 

It’s meant to lower your inhibitions. But alcohol can numb sensations, too, as it makes people feel sedated and sleepy. 

“For men to get an erection, the brain needs to be alert to send signals to the penis. Excessive drinking may have a sedative effect,” explains Prof Adaikan. Although that doesn’t necessarily affect desire, it could mean your man will be more inclined to cosy up to his pillow than you.

Allergy medications
Some antihistamines dry up the sinuses, so in theory, they could dry out the vagina, too. 

However, Prof Adaikan clarifies that it isn’t that straightforward. “Antihistamines that you take for sinus problems affect mucus secretions in the mose. They have no direct link to sexuality.” 

But Prof Adaikan also says they cause drowsiness – which could then affect your arousal levels. 

Birth control pills
Some studies show that birth control pills can decrease testosterone levels in women – which could, in turn, lead to a lower sex drive. 

“Many birth control pills are oestrogen-based,” confirms Prof Adaikan. “Long-term use curbs testosterone levels in women and increases the production of a sex hormone-binding compound, which further inhibits sex drive.”

Vinyl sex toys
They contain phthalates – chemical plasticisers that increase the flexibility and durability of plastics. These substances could disrupt hormones and decrease testosterone levels – leading to a lower sex drive. 

“Phthalates do affect the body’s regulation of hormones,” says Prof Adaikan. 

However, he adds that merely using vinyl-covered gadgets won’t necessarily kill your libido. “Your testosterone levels will not fall just because you use vinyl sex toys. There isn’t enough research on this at the moment.”

Eating contaminated fish
Fish that come from waters with a high level of industrial waste may contain toxins that could deplete your sex drive. 

“It is not so much the species of fish, but the toxins in the water that the fish comes from, that could affect your sex drive,” says Prof Adaikan. 

However, studies also show that including more omega-3 fatty acids, found in oily fish like salmon, mackerel and sardines, in your diet can help to widen the blood vessels and increase blood flow, which is useful for sexual arousal – so don’t give up eating fish. Find out where your fish is from, if you can – just to be sure. 

Lack of sleep
It’s common to joke that when a married couple isn’t sleeping well, they must be up all night getting it on. But when you’re exhausted from lack of sleep, sex will probably be the last thing on your mind. 

“When you’re physically and mentally exhausted, your libido will be affected. Fatigue can reduce your interest in sex, and make it more difficult for you to feel sexually aroused,” says Prof Adaikan. 

Long-term stress
Short bursts of stress can spur us on to tackle important tasks. But longer periods of unrelieved stress can affect your hormones and dampen your desire for sex.

“Cortisol, commonly termed the ‘stress hormone’, surges when the body is under stress. It suppresses the production of testosterone and results in the lowering of sex drive,” Prof Adaikan explains. 

He adds that being under stress for over six months qualifies as long-term stress, although this can vary among different people.

Bedroom clutter
If your bedroom has heaps of stuff, it doesn’t make for a restful or romantic environment, and could kill your mood for sex. 

Prof Adaikan says: “Facing clutter everywhere is hardly erotic; it may even cause arguments between a couple. This will not only dampen your libidos, but also cause stress in the relationship.”

Distractions from rest and bonding – like having the television set on in the bedroom – could also have the effect. 

This article was originally published in Simply Her March 2013.