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How to Increase Female Sex Drive: MD Shares 14 Things To Try

Women can increase their libido by getting enough sleep, exercising, lowering stress, and trying a new form of birth control or hormone replacement therapy.
Written by
Jeff Kahn, M.S., Rise Science Co-Founder
Reviewed by
Chester Wu, MD, Rise Science Medical Reviewer
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How to Increase Libido in Women? The Key Facts 

  • Increase your libido by getting enough sleep, exercising, trying aphrodisiacs, switching up your birth control, or trying hormone replacement therapy.  
  • Low libido can be caused by many things including sleep deprivation, stress, alcohol, hormone fluctuations, and relationship problems. 
  • The RISE app can help you solve one of the most overlooked causes: sleep loss. RISE tells you how sleep deprived you are and helps you catch up on sleep by recommending when to do 20+ daily sleep hygiene habits each day. 

Libido, or sex drive, is a complicated thing for women. It fluctuates throughout your life, throughout your menstrual cycle, and even throughout the day. But if you’re constantly feeling like you’ve got a low libido, and it’s getting you down, there are some lifestyle changes that can help.

Below, we’ll dive into how you can increase your libido and what causes low libido in women in the first place. Plus, we’ve covered how the RISE app can help you improve one of the most overlooked factors in libido: your sleep. 

We’ve already covered how to increase your sex drive. But in this blog post, we’ll dive into why women in particular may be experiencing a lowered libido and what they can do about it. 

Heads-up: The scientific literature uses gendered language when talking about female libido. We have used the terms “female” and “women” in this article, but this advice is for anyone who was assigned female at birth and is experiencing low libido.

How to Increase Libido in Women?

More research needs to be done into female sexual health, and women’s health in general, as well as how women specifically can increase their libidos. But here’s what the experts recommend so far.  

1. Meet Your Sleep Need 

Your sleep need is the amount of sleep you need each night. It’s determined by genetics and it’s unique to you. 

Not getting enough sleep makes you feel sleepy, so you’ll be less likely to have sex. But that’s only the start. 

Sleep loss is linked to lower odds of sexual satisfaction and lower sexual desire (more on the science behind sex and sleep soon). 

“Sleep plays a bigger role in your libido than you think. It can disrupt your hormone levels, cause stress and anxiety, and make you more likely to argue with your partner. Try heading to bed 15 minutes earlier over the next few weeks and seeing if this has an effect on your sex life.”

— Rise Science sleep advisor and medical reviewer, Dr. Chester Wu.

How much sleep do you need exactly? That answer is different for everyone. When we looked at how much sleep 1.95 million RISE users aged 24 and up need, we found it ranged from five hours to 11 hours 30 minutes. The median was eight hours of sleep. 

RISE can work out how much sleep you need, so you know what to aim for each night. 

We looked at how much sleep 1.95 million RISE users aged 24 and up need, we found it ranged from five hours to 11 hours 30 minutes. The median was eight hours of sleep. 
The RISE app can work out how much sleep you need a night.

 RISE users on iOS 1.202 and above can view their sleep need here

2. Lower Your Sleep Debt 

Don’t worry about one or two nights of bad sleep. Instead, focus on keeping your sleep debt low overall.

Sleep debt is the amount of sleep you owe your body. If you have a lot of sleep debt, you may feel the negative effects in the bedroom. The good news about sleep debt is you can catch up on sleep and pay it back.

You can lower your sleep debt by: 

  • Taking naps (check RISE to see the best time to do this so as to not impact your sleep at night) 
  • Going to sleep a little earlier 
  • Sleeping in a little later 
  • Improving your sleep hygiene (more on that next) 

RISE can work out how much sleep debt you have and keep track as you work to pay it back.

RISE users on iOS 1.202 and above can view their sleep debt here

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3. Maintain Good Sleep Hygiene 

Sleep hygiene is the name for the daily behaviors that can help or hurt your sleep. With good sleep hygiene, you can fall asleep faster and wake up less often during the night, helping you get more sleep overall. 

Here’s what to do: 

  • Get out in natural light first thing: This will signal to your brain that it’s time to be awake and set your body clock up to make you feel sleepy later that evening. 
  • Get out in sunlight throughout the day: This may make you less sensitive to light in the evening. Plus, a 2021 study found UVB light (one type of light you can get from the sun) enhances romantic passion in both men and women. 
  • Avoid bright lights before bed: Light suppresses the sleep hormone melatonin. About 90 minutes before bed, put on blue-light blocking glasses and dim the lights (it’s a bonus that this sets a romantic mood).
  • Avoid caffeine, alcohol, large meals, and exercise close to bedtime: These things can make it harder to fall asleep and they can wake you up in the night.

To stay on top of your sleep hygiene, RISE can remind you when to do 20+ healthy sleep habits each day. 

RISE app screenshot showing sleep hygiene habit reminders
The RISE app can guide you through 20+ daily sleep hygiene habits.

​​RISE users on iOS 1.202 and above can set up their 20+ in-app habit notifications here

4. Eat Aphrodisiacs or Libido-Boosting Foods

Aphrodisiacs are foods that can increase your sex drive. While more research needs to be done into aphrodisiacs, many of these foods can be a part of a healthy diet, so there’s no harm in adding them to your grocery list. 

Aphrodisiacs may include:

  • Chocolate
  • Bananas
  • Avocados 
  • Figs 
  • Red wine (just be sure to avoid having too much alcohol and alcohol close to bedtime) 

You can also try supplements that have the potential to increase libido. These include: 

  • Nutmeg 
  • Maca 
  • Date palm 
  • Safed Musli 
  • Ginseng 
  • Tongkat ali 
  • Zinc (a 2021 study found this helped improve sexual function in postmenopausal women)

A healthy diet in general will help with blood flow, body image, and sleep. A 2018 meta-analysis found a healthy diet is linked to a lower risk of sexual dysfunction in both men and women. 

5. Exercise

Exercise boosts blood flow to your genitals and improves your mood, stress levels, and body image. It can help you fall asleep (as long as you don’t work out too close to bedtime). 

One study found resistance training helped increase sexual desire and lubrication in women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). And another study found aerobic exercise can improve sexual function in women with PCOS. 

More research is needed on women without the condition, but it looks like exercise can help them, too. A 2018 meta-analysis states that participation in physical activity is linked to a lower risk of female sexual dysfunction. 

6. Reduce Stress

Stress is a key cause of a low libido. Research shows women with high stress levels have lower levels of genital arousal, higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol (which can mess with your sleep), and they get more distracted when watching an erotic film. 

Stress also makes it harder to get enough sleep. RISE users say stress and anxiety are the biggest challenges when it comes to getting a good night’s sleep.

Try keeping stress levels in check by: 

  • Doing yoga
  • Journaling 
  • Doing breathing exercises  
  • Practicing relaxation techniques like progressive muscle relaxation
  • Working out 
  • Making time for friends and family 
  • Taking time to unwind before bed (this can also help you get enough sleep — a win-win for your libido) 

7. Work on Your Relationship

If you’re in a long-term relationship, try scheduling date nights, doing new activities together, and adding new things to your sex life to avoid overfamiliarity (a libido-killer).

If your relationship is feeling rocky, consider couples counseling to talk through your problems and learn how to better communicate or overcome trust issues. 

Make sure you’re both sleeping enough to reduce the likelihood of conflict (and increase the likelihood of having sex). With RISE’s Partner Connect feature, you can see how much sleep debt you both have and who could do with an afternoon nap before date night. 

RISE app screenshot showing partner's sleep debt
The RISE app can help partners see each other’s sleep debt.

RISE users on iOS 1.202 and above can set up Partner Connect here. 

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8. Consider Sex Therapy

Beyond a couple’s therapist, you can also reach out to a sex therapist, either alone or with your partner. 

A sex therapist can help you work through any psychological issues that may be impacting your sex drive, like sexual trauma, poor body image, or growing up with shameful views around sex. 

They may recommend mindfulness practices, communication techniques, or cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) exercises to help overcome these issues. 

9. Limit Alcohol 

Red wine may be an aphrodisiac, but only in small doses. Alcohol can tank your libido and cause sleep problems, further impacting on your sex life. 

According to Dietary Guidelines for Americans, women should have a maximum of one drink a day (and if you have a male partner, they should limit themselves to two drinks a day). 

Be sure to avoid alcohol three to four hours before bed to stop it from disrupting your sleep.

10. Quit Smoking 

A 2022 meta-analysis found female smokers were 48% more likely to experience sexual dysfunction than non-smokers. 

Relaxation techniques, exercise, and avoiding triggers (like alcohol) can help you quit smoking. You can also try nicotine replacement products and therapy to kick the habit.

11. Be Cautious With Cannabis 

More research is needed into cannabis. A 2022 review states small poor-quality studies show cannabis may improve female sexual function. But more studies are needed to confirm. The results are inconclusive as there are studies showing cannabis can have both positive and negative effects on your sex life.

Beyond cannabis, if you take any recreational drugs, quit or seek help to quit. They don’t do your libido any favors. 

12. Speak to a Healthcare Professional

Reach out to your healthcare provider. They can rule out any underlying medical conditions that may be causing low libido or any other sexual problems like vaginal dryness or trouble reaching orgasm. 

They can also recommend treatment options like supplements or hormone replacement therapy if menopause is impacting your sex drive. 

13. Try a New Birth Control Method

Birth control affects everyone differently. Research shows methods like condoms, oral contraception, and IUDs can have either positive or negative effects on your libido. 

Some women report increased libido on certain birth control, so you may just need to find the right method for you.

We've covered whether birth control can make you tired (with ripple effects on your libido) here.

14. Ride the Wave of Your Hormones

Hormones play a huge role in female libido. You may find you have a higher sex drive in the first half of your cycle, the follicular phase, and around ovulation, but you’re less interested in sex in the second half of your cycle, known as the luteal phase

Your low libido may not be a problem to fix, it may simply be a sign of where you are in your monthly cycle. Try tracking your cycle and libido changes throughout the month to spot any patterns.

Expert tip: You may find it harder to sleep at certain points of your cycle, like on or before your period, and this can tank your libido. Pay extra attention to good sleep hygiene around these times to make sure you’re getting enough shut-eye.

Male partner having problems, too? We’ve covered how to treat erectile dysfunction naturally here.

How to Increase Libido in Pregnancy?

During pregnancy, increase your libido by keeping your sleep debt as low as possible, eating aphrodisiacs (that are safe for pregnancy), exercising, keeping stress in check, and being open and honest with your partner about how you feel.

Pregnancy can cause low libido as your hormone levels, body image, mood, and sleep are all impacted. Pregnancy symptoms — like nausea and fatigue — can also dampen your love life. 

How to Increase Female Libido After Menopause?

After menopause, increase female libido by spending longer on foreplay, trying lubricants, keeping your sleep debt low, exercising, eating aphrodisiacs, and talking to your healthcare provider about hormone replacement therapy. 

A 2019 survey found sexual problems were more common in menopausal women who did not use hormonal therapy. But hormone replacement therapy isn’t suitable for everyone, so speak to your healthcare provider to see if it could help you. 

At this time of life, you should also pay extra attention to getting enough sleep. Sleep problems are common during menopause, so this can cause or add to your low libido. 

Falling estrogen and progesterone levels can cause menopause symptoms that keep you awake (think night sweats), anxiety, and sleep-disordered breathing. Plus, you might experience age-related sleep problems, like lower back pain or the need to use the bathroom waking you up. 

Follow RISE’s daily sleep hygiene reminders to give yourself the best chance of getting a good night’s sleep. 

Heads-up: It’s a myth that we need less sleep as we age. The idea is based on data showing how much sleep people get, not what they need. Sleep is often harder to get as we grow older, so older adults are found to get less sleep. It’s therefore assumed (wrongly) they need less. 

It’s also not clear whether women need more sleep than men. But women are more likely to suffer from sleep problems and disorders, so they may need more time in bed to get enough sleep. 

We’ve covered more on how much sleep you need here and whether women need more sleep here.

What Causes a Lack of Libido in Women?

There are many causes of a lack of libido in females, including sleep deprivation, fluctuating hormones, relationship problems, alcohol, smoking, birth control, and menopause. 

Let’s dive into these low libido causes in more detail:  

  • Not getting enough sleep: You’ll feel sleepy and less likely to want to have sex if you’re not getting enough shut-eye. Sleep loss also negatively impacts everything from your relationship to your sex hormones (more on this soon) and women are more likely to suffer from sleep problems
  • Sleep disorders: A 2023 study found women with sleep apnea, insomnia, or a circadian rhythm sleep disorder had significantly higher odds of hypoactive sexual desire disorder (lack of desire for sex), female sexual arousal disorder (unable to get aroused), and female orgasmic disorder (unable to orgasm or taking a long time to reach orgasm). Insomnia and sleep apnea can not only cause low libido themselves, they’ve been associated with menopause, meaning women are especially likely to experience these sleep disorders that cause low sex drive as they age.
  • Low testosterone: We commonly think of testosterone as a male hormone, but it’s been shown to play a big role in female libido, too. A study looking at premenopausal women with a decreased libido found that most of them had very low or even unmeasurable testosterone levels. This has been found in both pre- and postmenopausal women.
  • Age: Testosterone levels decrease with age. The main androgen (sex hormone) precursors in women also decrease as we get older. And as we age, we’re more likely to have sleep problems, medical conditions, and be on medication that affects our sex drives. 
  • Stress and mental health issues: Including depression, anxiety, mental exhaustion, and general day-to-day stress. Stress can come from long work hours, childcare duties, and even the pandemic. A 2022 study found the COVID-19 pandemic negatively impacted some women’s sex lives.
  • Relationship problems: Intimacy and trust are key to a great sex life, and even if everything is great in your relationship, being overfamiliar with your long-term partner can tank your sex drive. 
  • Medication: Many medications have lowered libido as a side effect including antidepressants, anti-anxiety meds, and blood pressure medications. 
  • Alcohol, drugs, and smoking: Women who smoke are 48% more likely to experience sexual dysfunction than non-smokers. And drugs and alcohol are also linked to sexual dysfunction. 
  • Health conditions: Including diabetes, high blood pressure, underactive thyroid, high cholesterol, heart disease, and obesity (a 2023 study found sexual dysfunction is more common in obese women). 

Those causes of low sex drive can affect both men and women. Here’s what can cause low libido in women in particular: 

Your Menstrual Cycle 

Libido fluctuates throughout the menstrual cycle due to changing hormones. 

One study found women were more sexually active and had an increased libido on days when they had increased levels of luteinizing hormone, which happens before ovulation. Your testosterone levels also rise during ovulation, which may increase your libido. 

Another study had similar findings. It found estradiol — a type of estrogen — had positive effects on sexual desire, whereas progesterone had negative effects. Estrogen is higher in the first half of your cycle, the follicular phase, and progesterone is higher in the second half, also known as the luteal phase. The study found desire rose in the first half of the cycle, peaked mid-cycle, and fell in the second half. 

Other symptoms related to your menstrual cycle — like cramps, fatigue, and breast tenderness — may be contributing to a lower-than-usual sex drive. 

Birth Control 

According to a 2016 meta-analysis looking at many different methods of birth control, everything from condoms to contraceptive implants can have a negative impact on female libido. 

The paper found women reported problems such as loss of arousal and difficulty reaching orgasm when using condoms, and low sexual desire and decreased frequency of sex when using the levonorgestrel-releasing intrauterine system (LNG-IUS).

And oral contraceptives have been linked to:

  • Increased pain during sex
  • Decreased libido
  • Lowered arousal
  • Reduced frequency of sex 
  • Reduced frequency of orgasm during sex
  • Breast tenderness
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Lower testosterone levels 

Hormonal birth control can also cause other side effects like fatigue, bloating, weight gain, and anxiety, which in turn can lower your libido. And a 2021 review found hormonal contraception may be linked to depressive symptoms and sexual dysfunction. 

Birth control may also make you tired, which can make you less likely to want to have sex. We’ve covered whether birth control can make you tired here.

Pregnancy and Breastfeeding 

You may not be feeling your best during pregnancy and when breastfeeding, and side effects like morning sickness, weight gain, and mental health issues don’t exactly help. But hormones can also be to blame for a lowered libido during these times. 

During pregnancy, women have reported a decrease in sexual activity, decrease in libido, reduced satisfaction with sexual life, and feeling less attractive. This can be caused by changing hormone levels, as well as all the uncomfortable symptoms that come with pregnancy that also impact sex. 

And, unfortunately, it’s not over once your baby is born. After pregnancy, women produce less estrogen and will be producing prolactin — the hormone that helps with milk production — which can suppress sex drive. 

Plus, of course, your sleep will be hugely impacted during these times. It’s even harder to get enough sleep when pregnant or when caring for a newborn, meaning your libido is lowered even more. 


Perimenopause — the time leading up to menopause — can also cause changes in your sex life. Symptoms include decreased libido and sexual sensation, and a diminished or delay in orgasm. 

That’s not to mention the other common perimenopause symptoms — like weight gain, hot flashes, night sweats, depression, anxiety, and fatigue — that can all contribute to a lowered sex drive, too. 

Plus, perimenopause impacts your sleep, which of course impacts your sex life. Women going through perimenopause report: 

  • An increase in sleep disturbances.
  • A decrease in sleep quality (although sleep scientists don’t agree on what exactly sleep quality means yet). 
  • Longer sleep latency, or the time it takes to fall asleep.

We’ve covered more on whether menopause makes you tired here. 


It’s not just the lead-up to the menopause transition that impacts your libido, though. Many women experience a low sex drive afterward, too. 

One study looked at both peri- and postmenopausal women aged 45 to 55 and found that 64% of them had a “diminished libido.” The researchers found menopausal symptoms like depressive symptoms, poor sleep, and night sweats were significantly associated with a lowered libido. 

They also found a large proportion of the women in the study with diminished libido also experienced some degree of pain during sex or vaginal dryness, which can be caused by naturally decreasing levels of estrogen during this time. 

If this affects you, you’re not alone. The prevalence of female sexual dysfunction in postmenopausal women could be as high as 85%. 

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Does Sleep Loss Cause Low Libido?

Sleep loss can cause low libido in both women and men. It can make you feel sleepy, and therefore less likely to have sex. But it can also disrupt your hormone levels, make you more prone to arguments, and it’s linked to lower sexual arousal and satisfaction.

More research is needed, but here’s what we know so far.

A 2017 study looked at postmenopausal women aged 50 to 79. The results showed higher levels of insomnia were associated with lower odds of sexual satisfaction. And sleeping for less than seven to eight hours a night was associated with lower odds of having sex, less sexual satisfaction, and decreased sexual function.

It’s not just postmenopausal women, though. A study in the Journal of Sexual Medicine looked at female college students to see how their sleep affected their sex drives. It found women who habitually slept for longer at night reported better genital arousal than women who regularly slept for shorter durations. 

But it doesn’t take long for poor sleep to affect your love life. Sleeping for longer amounts of time was found to increase sexual desire the next day. In fact, a one-hour increase in sleep length increased the odds of a woman having sex the next day by 14%.

Here’s how else sleep can impact your sex life: 

  • Sleep loss can lead to weight gain: It also puts you at a higher risk of obesity. Obesity can affect your body image, it’s linked to painful sex, arousal problems, and sexual dissatisfaction in women. 
  • Sleep loss increases cortisol: High cortisol has been linked with lower levels of sexual arousal in women, and high cortisol levels can be caused by sleep deprivation, being out of sync with your body clock, and stress. 
  • Sleep deprivation messes with your hormones: Sleep loss reduces testosterone levels and spikes your cortisol, which in turn can lower your estrogen — a hormone cocktail destined to ruin your libido. 
  • Sleeping less makes couples more likely to argue: Sleep loss also makes them more hostile towards each other. Check RISE to see when you or your partner have high sleep debt, so you know when arguments are more likely to happen and when you should show a little extra compassion towards each other. 
  • Sleep disorders impact your sex life: Research shows sleep apnea negatively influences female sex drive, as well as desire, arousal, and orgasm. And research from 2023 shows women with sleep apnea, insomnia, or a circadian rhythm sleep disorder are more likely to have a range of sexual health problems. 
RISE app screenshot showing how much sleep debt you have
The RISE app can tell you if you need to catch up on sleep.

Boost Your Libido With Sleep 

There are many ways women can boost their libido, but sleep is one powerful method that’s often overlooked. 

Sleep deprivation can mess with your energy, hormones, and sexual function, and it can make many problems — like stress, weight, and relationship woes — even worse, tanking your sex drive further. 

To help, check the RISE app to see how much sleep you should be aiming for each night. Then use RISE’s 20+ sleep hygiene reminders to have an easier time getting this amount of sleep. 

RISE can also work out how much sleep debt you and your partner have, so you can work on lowering it to increase your odds of having (more and better) sex. 

We’ve found 80% of RISE users get more sleep within five days, so your love life could look better by this time next week.

Summary FAQs

How to increase libido in women?

Women can increase their libidos by getting enough sleep, reducing stress, exercising, eating aphrodisiacs and a healthy diet, limiting alcohol, switching birth control, and working on any relationship problems. If you’re going through menopause, hormone replacement therapy may also help.

What naturally increases libido in women?

Getting enough sleep, reducing stress, eating aphrodisiacs and a healthy diet, limiting alcohol, trying a new birth control method, and working on any relationship problems can naturally increase libido in women.

How to increase female libido after 40?

Increase female libido after 40 by getting enough sleep, reducing stress, eating aphrodisiacs and a healthy diet, limiting alcohol, and working on any relationship problems. If you’re on birth control, trying a new method can increase libido and if you’re going through menopause, hormone replacement therapy may help boost libido.

How to increase female libido after menopause?

You can increase female libido after menopause by getting enough sleep, reducing stress, eating aphrodisiacs and a healthy diet, limiting alcohol, working on any relationship problems, and trying hormone replacement therapy.

How to increase libido in pregnancy?

Increase libido in pregnancy by getting enough sleep, reducing stress, eating pregnancy-safe aphrodisiacs and a healthy diet overall, and working on any relationship problems.

What causes a lack of libido in females?

Lack of libido in females can be caused by sleep deprivation, stress, alcohol, relationship problems, medications like antidepressants, health conditions like high blood pressure and underactive thyroid, and hormone fluctuations during your monthly cycle, pregnancy, or menopause.

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