Conventional wisdom (and loads of research) show that exercise is one of the best ways to naturally boost your libido. But what if a new workout routine leaves you (or your partner) too tired for sex? Is it really the exercise that’s causing your lagging lovemaking, or is it indicative of a problem that’s neither in the bedroom, nor the weight room?
According to Dr. Roger Libby, a board-certified sex therapist, sex coach, and couples counselor, exercise is one of the best ways to give your sex life a little added oomph, because it helps keep hormones, which impact sex drive and energy levels, in check.
“[Sex] helps balance hormones–unless you overdo it, and then the hormones get out of balance,” says Dr. Libby. ”Exercise liberates endorphins, which increases energy and libido…So if someone says they’re too tired to have sex, it’s either an excuse or they’re over doing it.”
“There’s a condition called female athlete triad, where women just don’t have a high enough intake of calories to sustain the body during intense exercise. And this is fairly common, actually, and it’s similar to anorexia, but without the psychological part of it.”
If that’s the case, says Dr. Libby, your sex life is really just a barometer for what’s going on with the rest of your body and life.
“You’re probably doing something wrong with eating, sleep, overexercise, or even being too mentally anxious about work or something else.”
But if you’re not running marathons (or you are training hard, and you’re also being conscientious of eating enough and getting enough rest), it’s more likely that the tiredness you’re feeling is an indication of what’s happening in your relationship, and not about that grueling Pilates class.
“Most often, when a patient says “I’m tired,” it’s like the old “I’ve got a headache” thing. It’s an excuse,” says Dr. Libby.
Translation: You’re probably not too tired for sex because you logged too many hours on the treadmill. You’re too tired because something else is the matter.
“If [cutting back] doesn’t work, it may be based on the relationship, or may be mental. They may be using it as a coping mechanism, and trying to escape the relationship. They’re not prioritizing the relationship.”
The solution? First, make sure you’re eating enough, sleeping enough, and have enough healthy outlets for work- or life-related stress.
Then, evaluate your life and relationship. Are you generally happy? Are you and your partner communicating enough? Are you actually interested in boosting your sex life, or are you using “too tired” as an excuse to skip it, because you aren’t feeling good in the relationship?
If you think it may be the latter, says Dr. Libby, communication is key. Consider seeing a sex therapist, or just prioritizing talking and intimacy. Because unless you’re running ultramarathons, it’s probably not your workout that’s the problem.
Image: Warren Goldswain via Shutterstock