7 Simple Tweaks for a Happier, Healthier Sex Life

Making a few changes to your daily routine can pay romantic dividends.

Attractive Black couple embracing and walking in nature

Updated on December 27, 2023.

Don’t wait for a special occasion to work on maximizing your sexual health. Keep the sparks flying year-round with a few simple tricks to boost intimacy.

Live healthfully

Eating a balanced diet, getting plenty of rest, and exercising regularly are good moves for overall well-being, and a healthy body can contribute to a better sex life. Taking good care of yourself is the first step.

In fact, regular exercise may be one of the most important keys to healthy sexual function. Research suggests that people who exercise regularly have increased blood flow throughout their bodies, including the genital area, which may help improve sex drive and sensation. Exercises like running, strength training, and yoga increase your stamina, improve your flexibility, boost endurance, and give your body image a lift.

Working out specific regions may offer an added benefit: Some research suggests that doing pelvic-floor exercise (think Kegels) can enhance sexual responsiveness and may even help improve symptoms of erectile dysfunction.

A diet high in added sugars and fat can lead to an increased risk of diabetes and heart disease—which may affect your sex drive and your ability to enjoy a long and healthy life. Emphasize fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean sources of protein, and healthy fats in your eating plan.

Turn off the tube

Take an active role in your evening entertainment by skipping a night of TV to make time for physical intimacy. Television viewing could be getting in the way of your love life in more ways than one. Surveys suggest that owning a television is associated with a lower likelihood of having sex, and the effect may be magnified when the TV is located in your bedroom. Other research suggests that sedentary behavior—such as watching TV or using a computer—for one or more hours a day is linked to a higher likelihood of erectile dysfunction in men 40 and older.

Skip the music and candlelight

Research has shown that activities that arouse rather than suppress the nervous system—that is, anything that hikes your heart rate and works your cardiovascular system—can significantly enhance sexual response for women.

So if it's romance you're after, try laughing your head off at a comedy club rather than sipping at a wine bar. If it's movie night, pick an action-thriller instead of a romance. For an active date, consider zip-lining over a slow stroll or a round of golf.

Pick the perfect time

It's not just a matter of making time for lovemaking, it’s also about choosing the best time. Research suggests that there are certain days each month when people who have periods are more likely to have better sex and better orgasms. Studies have indicated that some people report greater sex drive and more arousal and sexual satisfaction around the middle of the menstrual cycle, leading up to ovulation.

Focus on the olfactory

Need help relaxing? Try lavender-scented oils, sachets, and lotions to help you or your partner unwind and get in the mood. Studies suggest that the smell of lavender may increase feelings of relaxation and reduce mental stress in some people. Remember, though, that certain scents inspire different reactions in different people, so experiment until you find the one that works for you.

Open up

Be sure to keep communication lines open. Sharing your thoughts and ideas will help you and your partner understand and respect each other's likes, dislikes, moods, and desires. It also will help provide an atmosphere conducive to problem-solving.

Remember that nurturing your sex life is something you should work on each day, not five minutes before you fall into bed. Whether you give your partner a good-morning kiss or leave a sweet note on the bathroom mirror, considerate and loving gestures like these can help boost your partner’s sexual self-esteem and reinforce your attraction to them. That can translate into more satisfaction between the sheets for both of you.

Watch your alcohol intake

One drink may loosen you up and get you in the mood for love, but too much alcohol in your bloodstream may hinder your sexual performance and response. Alcohol depresses the central nervous system, which slows down nerve impulses, hampers your coordination, and makes it difficult to get or maintain an erection or to maintain sufficient vaginal lubrication.

Consult the experts

Sexuality is a complex combination of physical and psychological responses to stimuli, so you may need to enlist the help of more than one kind of healthcare professional to help solve any intimacy problems that may crop up. Your primary care provider can help you determine if there might be underlying medical causes of sexual dysfunction, or if any medications you're taking—such as antidepressants, antihistamines, chemotherapy, or treatments for high blood pressure—may be hampering your sexual experience. They can also direct you to other healthcare providers who may be able to help, such as counselors or therapists.

Article sources open article sources

Fergus KB, Gaither TW, Baradaran N, Glidden DV, Cohen AJ, Breyer BN. Exercise Improves Self-Reported Sexual Function Among Physically Active Adults. J Sex Med. 2019;16(8):1236-1245.
Gerbild H, Larsen CM, Graugaard C, Areskoug Josefsson K. Physical activity to improve erectile function: A systematic review of intervention studies. Sex Med. 2018;6(2):75-89.
U of Chicago Medicine. Kegels: The 30-second exercise that can improve incontinence and sex. October 28, 2019.
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Kegel Exercises. Reviewed November 2021.
Selvin E, Burnett AL, Platz EA. Prevalence and risk factors for erectile dysfunction in the US. Am J Med. 2007;120(2):151-157.
Lorenz TA, Harte CB, Hamilton LD, Meston CM. Evidence for a curvilinear relationship between sympathetic nervous system activation and women's physiological sexual arousal. Psychophysiology. 2012 Jan;49(1):111-7.
Roney JR, Simmons ZL. Hormonal predictors of sexual motivation in natural menstrual cycles. Horm Behav. 2013;63(4):636-645.
Koulivand PH, Khaleghi Ghadiri M, Gorji A. Lavender and the nervous system. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2013;2013:681304.
NIH: National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Lavender. Last updated August 2020.
Drinkaware UK. Is alcohol affecting your sex life? Reviewed June 9, 2022.

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