Reviewed by Kristin Hall, FNP
Written by Our Editorial Team
Wondering how to get turned on? We rounded up a few techniques to try out.
Getting turned on was pretty damn easy about a lifetime ago, wasn’t it? Fess up — even the most sexually prolific among us still get fewer erections than we did as hormone-jittery teens and young adults. If you’re still managing the same desire for sex as when you were taking driver’s ed, you’re the weird one.
But being in the mood less often isn’t a problem — the problem is when you want to be in the mood but just aren’t.
Sexual arousal difficulties can happen for numerous reasons. But luckily, there are plenty of solutions if you’re finding that your “wants” and your “cans” aren’t lining up like they used to.
Before discussing how to get turned on, we’ll explain some things about sexual arousal you may not know. We’ll also cover tips for getting in the mood, reasons you might be struggling to get turned on and where to start in sorting those problems out.
There are two equally important parts of how you get aroused: the physiological and the psychological arousal responses. Research has shown that sexual arousal is a complex and multifaceted phenomenon involving both physical and psychological components.
The physiological state of being aroused in men is characterized by, well…being aroused — aka having an erection.
However, psychological arousal doesn’t necessarily entail erectile function — it may only be excitement or stimulation from images, fantasies or touch.
Physical arousal isn’t just a hard/soft question, though — it can be characterized by autonomic nervous system activity, including:
Increased blood flow to the genitals
Increased heart rate and muscle tension
By the way, your autonomic nervous system controls many voluntary and involuntary behaviors. It’s also responsible for the “fight-or-flight” response, which triggers the release of adrenaline, and the so-called “rest-and-digest” response, which causes relaxation and sexual arousal.
Keep reading to learn how to get aroused.
Wondering how to turn yourself on? We have you covered.
Truth be told, getting turned on is a very personal experience — and not just because it involves your own genitals. Between kinks, fantasies, what you’re attracted to and who you’re attracted to, you have a very specific, tailored set of requirements for what gets you going.
You might be able to work some of these things into your intimate relationships to spice up your sex life, but in the big picture, they’re tools, not techniques.
Getting aroused (insofar as we can offer guidance) isn’t about the specific things you like but rather how to set the mood, tone and scenario to enjoy those things.
The following seven ways to get in the mood can help you flip the switch, charge the battery and load the cannons:
Take the pressure off
Set the scene
Explore erotica and porn
Spend time on foreplay
Take care of your health
Try new positions and toys
Let’s look at how to put these into effect in your own life.
First of all, nobody’s good at getting aroused under pressure. Whether you’ve been stressing about being “ready to go” or “in the mood,” the essential first step is just to lower the stakes.
Remember, sex is about having a good time. And if you’re engaging your fight-or-flight response by becoming anxious, you’re not going to have the mental space to get turned on.
Learning how to get turned on is all about setting the scene. No, you don’t have to light candles and spread rose petals on the bed, but consider the effect mood lighting, music and a cold beverage can have on your ability to relax.
Treating your partner to a romantic retreat in a room with dim lights and no screens might help turn them on. Beyond that, the change of scenery can have an effect on your own state of mind — like the difference between how you feel in your home versus the DMV office. Which one of those sounds sexier?
We’re not telling you what erotic content to look into, but if you’re having arousal troubles, consider recreational content to see what you can get stirring.
There may be fantasies you’ve yet to explore or acts you’re curious about that can send your imagination (and other parts of your mind and body) into a frenzy. Plus, reading is cool.
The good news for men who struggle with arousal is that foreplay exists. Most guys may wrongly assume that when the clock starts on sexy time, they have to be ready for penetration.
But even if neither your mind nor your penis has shown up to the party, you can still get things going by touching, kissing, teasing or massaging your partner. Sometimes, arousing someone else is enough to arouse yourself.
The most boring item on this list is — sadly — also the most important and neglected. While mood-setting activities and X-rated content may help some guys, the reality is that arousal problems may signal a mental or physical health condition you need to discuss with a healthcare provider.
If you think this may apply to you, we’ve covered some of the physical and psychological causes of erectile dysfunction (ED) below.
Shaking up the routine with something new can work wonders for your arousal and your partner’s satisfaction. New positions are a great way to find different sensations that may be equally or more pleasing to both people.
Research has shown that most women find more satisfaction in positions where they can get additional stimulation (by rocking, angling or pairing), and it’s even easier to add an extra layer of sensation when you incorporate a toy. These are just a few of the many ways to have better sex.
Obvious? Sure. Overlooked? Frequently.
Communication is the thread that ties all other items on this list together. It’s how you find out what turns you and your partner on, how you ask for what you want and how you make sure you’re providing what they need.
Real talk: not getting aroused might very well be due to a lack of chemistry or connection with your partner. But for many people, a lack of arousal is caused by something else — something treatable.
Cardiovascular and neurological diseases
Multiple sclerosis (MS)
Chronic inflammation due to diabetes
While most of these physical causes of erectile dysfunction affect your physical arousal, the following psychological causes can also prevent you from getting aroused:
Depression and low self-esteem
An out-of-control porn habit
Poor diet and exercise habits
A lack of attraction to your partner
As you might already have noticed, many of these problems are hard to diagnose without the support of a healthcare professional. The same goes for treatment.
So if you think you might have one of the above issues (or aren’t sure at all), talking to a healthcare professional or sex therapist is the next step in your problem-solving process.
Let’s talk about the options they’ll offer you.
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The underlying issue causing your lack of arousal is a problem whether you address it or not. And both will likely get worse without you taking action.
Depending on what needs to be addressed to give you a healthy sex life, your road to arousal may be shorter or longer. But here’s a brief overview of how the major problems should be dealt with.
In the modern era, ED is a comically easy problem to solve. Diet and exercise can make major improvements to your erectile health, and medications can help with the physiological causes of ED.
There are a number of FDA-approved prescription ED pills available, including:
Levitra (generic vardenafil)
Stendra (generic avanafil)
Talk to a healthcare professional to find out if these medications might be a fit for your needs.
Low testosterone levels have been associated in studies with an inability to get aroused, as well as a total lack of interest in sex. Testosterone imbalances can be a result of various underlying causes, from hormone imbalances to problems with the prostate.
To address hormone problems, talk to your doctor about hormone replacement therapy and other options based on their assessment.
Some days, even the most sexually accomplished men just don’t feel like it. But a pattern of indifference to sex or a lack of desire can signal an issue — and if it’s not due to low testosterone levels, it’s often a question of your mindset.
Low self-esteem, performance anxiety, depression and other mental health conditions can make connecting with your partner difficult. Getting treatment for mental health issues in the form of therapy or medication can help you deal with those problems and get your focus back in the present — and on your partner.
Yes, it may be the case that your lack of desire is wrapped up in another conflict. You may no longer find your partner attractive or have a deeper connection with someone else that’s making it difficult for you to perform.
A therapy professional can help you sort out your feelings. It may sound scary to face these thoughts, but it’s the best thing for everyone, including your partner.
Our sex lives are complicated, and real life isn’t always as ideal as TV and movies would suggest. Many things can prevent you from being turned on, and lots of hurdles can prevent your sexual encounters from becoming legendary — or from happening at all.
If this sounds familiar, here’s what you need to remember to start getting back on track with your arousal levels:
Arousal is both mental and physiological, and you can have erections without being “turned on.”
There are many ways to get in the mood, from audio porn and erotic stories to putting together a playlist of sexy tunes.
If romantic acts don’t clear your mental block, it might be time to talk to a healthcare provider or mental health professional about ED, performance anxiety and other more serious roadblocks to a healthy sex drive.
If you’re dealing with erectile dysfunction, check out our hard mint chewable ED meds and other ED medications. We also offer treatment for premature ejaculation, which you can learn more about on our blog.