Do you start feeling low, exhausted, or depressed when the shorter nights and cold weather set in? If so, you might be amongst the estimated one in 15 people who struggle with Seasonal Affective Disorder.
According to the NHS, “Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that comes and goes in a seasonal pattern. SAD is sometimes known as “winter depression” because the symptoms are usually more apparent and more severe during the winter.”
SAD can have an impact on your life in many ways. You might suffer from low mood, lose the ability to take pleasure in things you normally enjoy, lose your appetite, crave unhealthy food, struggle to sleep, or sleep much more than usual. Another area that SAD can affect is your sex life.
How Can SAD Impact Your Sex Life?
Depression of all kinds, including SAD, can lower your libido. Chances are, if you’re feeling low, masturbating or jumping into bed with your partner is the last thing on your mind.
You might find that you have no sex drive at all, that your desire is severely diminished or–if you do have sex–that it is difficult or impossible for you to reach orgasm. People with penises may experience erectile problems, and people with vulvas may find it hard to get or stay wet.
The above, though the most common impact of depression on the sex drive, is not universal. Some people experience no change in their libido, or even an increase, during periods of depression. This is not necessarily a bad thing, since sex has many benefits for your physical and mental health and might help you to feel better.
However, it can become problematic if your increased libido causes you to act out sexually (pressuring your partner, cheating, neglecting other responsibilities in order to have sex or masturbate, or seeking out high-risk sexual encounters, for example.)
What Can You Do About It?
If SAD is having a negative impact on your sex life, here are a few things you might like to try to get you back in your groove.
Treat the SAD More Generally
Sexual wellness is part of the overall package of your health and wellbeing, both physical and mental. Addressing your SAD will have numerous benefits, including potential benefits for your sex life.
See your doctor, who will help you to come up with a treatment plan and may prescribe medication to help you feel better. If possible, it’s also a good idea to see a therapist. Self-care strategies, such as eating a healthy diet, exercising, and practicing good sleep habits, can help alongside medical care.
Take the Pressure Off
It’s normal for your sex drive to ebb and flow, and it can be influenced by all kinds of factors. It’s okay if you just don’t feel like having sex right now. Try to take the pressure off yourself and give yourself space to simply not feel sexual for a bit.
Paradoxically, you are very likely to find that removing pressure helps your libido to return to normal more quickly.
Talk to Your Partner(s)
Sexual struggles can cause issues in a relationship, but a lack of communication about those struggles will only make the situation far worse. If your libido has plummeted, your partner(s) might be wondering what’s going on and if it signals a bigger problem in your relationship.
Sit down with your partner or partners and talk to them about what’s going on. Let them know that you’re suffering from depression due to SAD and the impact it’s having on your desire for sex. If possible, let them know what sort of support you need from them.
Get Physical Without Sex
Even if you don’t feel like having sex, physical touch can still be a great way to stay connected to your body and get feel-good brain chemicals such as endorphins flowing.
If you have a partner or partners, why not try cuddling, kissing, or exchanging massages without any expectation of sex? BDSM activities such as rope bondage, impact play, sensation play, or wax play without getting your genitals involved can also feel good.
If you are single, you can still nurture your body’s need for physical touch without sex. Ask your friends for extra hugs, cuddle your pet, get a professional massage, take a hot bath, or just lovingly touch your own body in whatever ways feel good to you.
If SAD is impacting your ability to feel sexual pleasure or reach orgasm, toys can help. They can often provide a higher level of intensity, and for longer periods of time, than bodies can offer unassisted.
Powerful vibrators such as wands are a great option for all bodies if you need more intense stimulation than usual to help you get there, and toys such as the Pulse–which can be used from hard or flaccid–are ideal for penis owners struggling with erectile issues. Strap-ons offer an alternative way to play with penetration, and a good lube is also absolutely essential if vaginal dryness is an issue for you.
Has SAD Impacted Your Sex Life?
If you have lived experience of this issue and have any amazing hacks to share with our readers, let us know in the comments!