By Catherine Jarvie
Low libido problem: stress
Top of the list for a low libido has to be that old favourite: stress. Perhaps you're working so hard that you barely have the time, let alone the inclination, to even think about sex as anything other than a fond and distant memory. Or it could be that you're so close to burnout that your sex drive has become another casualty of the corporate war, taken itself off to Beachy Head and thrown itself over the edge, never to be seen again. Whatever. The point is that too much stress is a guaranteed passion killer.
How to get it back
We could blind you with science about the impact of overworked adrenal glands and raised hormone levels on the mind, body and sex drive, but two words will suffice - chill out. Easier said than done, we know, but the key to achieving relaxation's Holy Grail is to step off your hamster wheel and... just... stop... Make time for yourself, first and foremost.
Sure, sex is about the two of you, but if you can't switch off and engage, you're not going to do either of yourself any favours. Meditative activities such as yoga are great for getting in touch with your body and mind. Even a candlelit bubble bath with a glass of wine and your favourite magazine, if that's what does it for you. Once you've made time for yourself, you can start to think about setting aside time for the two of you and simply allow what comes naturally to, well, come naturally.
Low libido problem: over-familiarity
Relationships therapist Ester Perel notes in bestseller Mating In Captivity (HarperCollins) that whenever her clients talk about feeling desire for their long term partner, it's always in a situation when their partner is distanced from them. You might notice your other half's attractiveness from across the room at a party or function, say. Or perhaps you're impressed with his skill and authority while watching him do something (give a speech, help small orphans, change a plug, that kind of thing) that you might otherwise take for granted or have forgotten he can do. Whatever it might be, what Dr Perel is saying is that over-familiarity kills lust as surely as going a week without bathing.
How to get it back
Familiarity is far more likely to breed boredom than contempt, as the old saying puts it. And boredom, fed by habit and cosy old routines, is one of the great passion killers. Dates aren't just for singles and new romantics; arrange regular nights out with your partner where all talk of bill-paying, childcare and household chores is banned. Or perhaps you'd prefer to accidentally-on-purpose run into your partner in a bar, where you chat one another up as apparent strangers setting the tone for some great mental foreplay and erotic anticipation.
On the other hand, Vernon Kay once remarked how he's never seen wife Tess Daly get ready or put on her make-up; she just appears to him in a vision of loveliness - not that this seemed to stop him 'sexting' mind, but some people are never satisfied. That might all sound a bit too '50s housewife for most of us, but the point is that they're consciously working to keep some sense of mystique (which is a byword for romance, which is a byword for sexual allure) alive.
The low-libido problem: excess alcohol
Yes, that glass of wine we talked about earlier can be a great way to relax. But the line between relaxed and pie-eyed is one that many of us find hard to negotiate. Alcohol is a great social lubricant, and one that has assisted many a nervous romantic encounter to the next level. But too much booze kills your sex drive stone dead. Even if the mind is willing, the body quite often fails to come up with the goods. That may not seem like so much of a problem for women (who can always, ahem, lie back and think of England, even if they lose the great pleasures afforded by being lustily involved). But if you're in one half of a booze-sodden couple, it's only a matter of time before things take a, shall we say, downward turn.
How to get it back
This is one situation where the answer really is as easy as it looks: lay off the booze. Sure, have a glass or two to help set the mood but then trust the mood to take things on from there itself. If, however, you've already reached a point where you can't even imagine having sex when you're sober, it's probably safe to say there's wider trouble afoot. If you and your partner can't sit down and resolve why booze has become your constant bedmate, then it might be worth a visit to a good relationships counsellor to try and find out what's going on. And if it's the booze itself that's causing the problem visit alcoholics-anonymous.org.uk to see where to take things from here.
The low libido problem: self-esteem
A tricky one this: although sex is a physical act, we all know that how we're performing between the sheets has a lot to do with our confidence outside the covers. With really good sex often blurring the line between an emotional connection and a physical one (who hasn't been ready to declare undying love during or immediately after an earth-shattering orgasm?) it's no surprise that being physically naked all too often leaves us feeling emotionally naked too.
How to get it back
Try to work out where the current blow to your confidence has come from. If you're not feeling at your physical best, for example, it's hardly surprising that the idea of getting jiggy might be filling you with performance-restricting dread. A little strategic mood lighting and a thorough acceptance of the truth that, when it gets right down to it, your partner's thoughts are likely to be engaged on subjects other than the finer points of your muffin top, might be all it takes to quell your nerves. Ask your partner for some positive reassurance - it's almost a guaranteed cert that he's still finds you attractive in ways you can't even imagine so get ready to bask in a compliment or two and enjoy. (And if he can't find anything to say about you? Well, that's a whole different issue that you need to address...
Have you ever experienced a low libido? Tell us below.
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