How to maintain a healthy sex life

profile picture of James Stevenson
Lead Physician, Bupa Health Clinics
12 July 2023
Next review due July 2026

A healthy sex life means something different to us all. Everyone’s libido or ‘sex drive’ is different. It’s part of what makes us all unique. You might feel satisfied with less sex. Or, you might be looking for ways to reconnect with your partner to give your sex life a boost.

The good news is it’s never too late to change your sex life, if you’d like to. If you’re experiencing a low libido, I’ve listed some common causes below. And, I offer some tips to help you and your partner reconnect.

two people chatting outdoors

Why has my sex drive changed?

Like our mood and emotions, changes in our life and health can affect our sex drive. For example, stress can make you less likely to want to have sex. There are certain times when it’s common to experience a reduced libido. This can include if you:

  • are going through menopause
  • have problems in your relationship
  • are feeling anxious or depressed 
  • are busy with work or caring for children
  • feel less confident about yourself

Some people might also find being intimate with a new partner difficult after the end of a long-term relationship.

It’s natural for our sex drive to change over time, and at different points in our lives. But if you’d like to increase your libido and have more sex, there are lots of things you can try that can help.

How often should we have sex?

It’s easy to worry about how much sex is ‘normal’, but there’s no set amount of sex you ‘should’ be having. If you have a reduced libido, or feel unhappy with your sex life, it might feel like everyone around you is having lots of sex. But, people are often having less sex than we might assume. And, it’s common to have a different sex drive to your partner.

In fact, of UK adults approached in a recent poll, only around a quarter said they’d had sex in the past week. And, the average amount of sex of those who took part was around once a week, and this varied depending on the age of those who took part.

You might feel happy having less sex than this. Remember, a healthy and ‘normal’ amount of sex is whatever works best for you, your partner, and your relationship.

How can I improve my sex life?

If you feel that your sex life needs a boost, here are five tips that may help improve things. They can help you and your partner reconnect too.

1. Talk about it

If you’re unhappy with the amount of sex you’re having, it’s a good idea to communicate this to your partner. It’s also important to listen to their perspective and feelings about your sex life.

Try to avoid using negative phrases such as ‘you don’t’ or ‘you never’ when talking about sex. Instead, try talking about elements of your sex life that used to work well for you both. You could, for example, use phrases such as ‘I liked it when’ etc.

2. Start slow

If it’s been a long time since you’ve been intimate, you might want to build up slowly to having sex again. This can help to relieve any pressure by taking the focus off sex to start with.

Instead focus more on increasing intimacy between you by holding hands or kissing. Or try giving each other a massage without any expectation that this will lead to sex.

3. Look after your mental health

Try to find healthier coping strategies to manage your stress levels. Meditation or relaxation techniques like calming breathing exercises, can help with this. You could also try having a warm bath to help you relax at the end of a long day.

If you feel less stressed you’re more likely to feel better in yourself, which could help to improve your libido.

4. Find time for each other

With the stresses of daily life it can be difficult to find quality time to spend with your partner. Why not reconnect and make time for just the two of you again. You could go out for dinner, or take a trip to the theatre to watch a show you both enjoy.

5. Work on your relationship

If relationships problems have impacted your sex life with your partner, there are steps you can take that can help. You could try reaching out to a relationship counselling service or sex therapist. They can talk through your circumstances, and help you work towards a healthier relationship together.

How can I increase my sex drive?

If there’s an underlying cause that’s affecting your sex drive, addressing this can often help to improve your libido.

Your doctor can help with a variety of health problems, including those that affect your sex life. If you feel a health condition is causing reduced sex drive, or you’re experiencing symptoms that are making sex difficult or uncomfortable, visit your GP. They can provide help and advice with the following common problems.

  • Menopause. A reduced libido can be a symptom of menopause. The menopause can also cause symptoms like vaginal dryness which can make sex uncomfortable. There are lots of medications that can help to reduce these symptoms, which can help to increase your libido and help make having sex easier.
  • Erectile dysfunction. If you’re experiencing erectile dysfunction, speak to your doctor or pharmacist. They can offer advice and support, and discuss treatment options.
  • Depression and anxiety. If you have depression or anxiety, it can affect all aspects of your life, including your sex drive. So, it’s important to speak to your GP if you feel that you’re struggling with your mental health.

Our sex lives can have a big impact on our wellbeing and relationships. If you’d like help to address a reduced libido, or have symptoms that are affecting your sex life, contact your doctor.

Are you interested in learning more about your health? Discover more about our range of health assessments.

profile picture of James Stevenson
Dr James Stevenson (he/him)
Lead Physician, Bupa Health Clinics



Lucy Kapoutsos, Health Content Editor at Bupa UK

    • Sex and relationships after the menopause. Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists. Accessed June 2023
    • Erectile dysfunction: what are the causes? NICE Clinical Knowledge Summaries. Last revised May 2023
    • We’ve stopped having sex. Relate. Accessed June 2023
    • Sexual dysfunction in women. Epidemiology. BMJ Best Practice. Last updated 6 December 2022
    • How much sex are Britons having? YouGov UK. Published 24 February 2020
    • Mindfulness. About mindfulness. Mind. Published November 2021
    • Relaxation. How could relaxation help me? Mind. Published November 2021
    • Menopause. NICE Clinical Knowledge Summaries. Last revised September 2022

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