These 6 Bedroom Mistakes Could Be Affecting Your Sex Life, Say Expert Doctors

Updated: Jun. 09, 2024

Hormone changes and men's health issues tend to get the most attention, but doctors say some intimacy-increasing strategies related to your space may be super straightforward.

clean and modern bedroom
Klaus Vedfelt/getty images

It can feel isolating to experience a dip in libido, but the Cleveland Clinic suggests this may affect around 20% of men and an even greater percentage of women at some point in their lives. While a dwindling sex drive can often be rooted in medical conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and the side effects of certain medications, doctors told us there’s another dimension to consider that may be simple to address.

Kameelah Phillips, MD, a New York-based OBGYN, emphasizes the significance of creating a “safe space” for a healthy sex life: An environment where individuals feel free to express and explore their desires without fear of judgment, which Dr. Phillips says extends to the physical surroundings where intimacy takes place. The design and hygienic choices you make can significantly influence the quality of those special moments.

Read on to discover the six bedroom mistakes that could be sabotaging your sex life, offering insights and actionable advice to reclaim calm and closeness.

hand setting thermostat
grace cary/getty images

1. Temperature

Believe it or not, the temperature of your bedroom could be cooling off more than just the air around you: It might be putting a chill on your sex life, as well. A fascinating experiment in the Netherlands revealed that couples experiencing literal cold feet in the bedroom faced more difficulties reaching orgasm compared with those who slipped on a pair of cozy socks, with their success rate warming up to an impressive 80%.

Neuropsychiatrist Daniel Amen, MD, has shared that the brain area linked to genital sensations is closely situated to the part that processes feelings in our feet, so this may be a possible explanation for this phenomenon.

15 Types of Arguments That May Mean the End of Your Relationship

cluttered bedroom
Justin Paget/getty images

2. Clutter

The chaos of clutter might be doing more than just crowding your space—it could also be cluttering your love life. Research, including a 2009 study published in the peer-reviewed journal Society for Personality and Social Psychology demonstrated that women living in cluttered environments tended to have elevated levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, alongside a greater incidence of depressive symptoms.

A 2012 study from UCLA’s Center on Everyday Lives and Families also found a clear connection between the stress of managing an abundance of possessions and higher cortisol levels in women. Since stress is a known libido dampener, tidying up your bedroom could streamline your space and potentially rekindle the flame in your intimate relationships.

What Is “Swedish Death Cleaning”? An Expert Explains Why It’s the Secret to a Happier Life for Americans

Messy White Sheet On Bed
Jackal Pan/Getty Images

3. Dirty bed sheets

Neglecting the cleanliness of your bed sheets could be subtly undermining your sex life. Considering we spend a significant amount of time in bed each week, the importance of regular sheet washing is a key component of health—including sexual health.

Philip Tierno, PhD, microbiologist and professor at NYU Grossman School of Medicine, recommends a weekly laundry routine for those who use their bed every night. He also advises investing in mattress protectors and pillow covers to shield against the accumulation of skin cells, dust mites, sweat, and other residues that mattresses and pillows tend to gather over time.

A startling study by a mattress company even revealed that, after just one week, bed sheets can harbor 24,631 more bacteria than a bathroom door knob.

Where’s that laundry basket..?

Here’s How Often You Should Really Shower, Say Doctors

cell phone left charging on a bed of pillows and white blanket in the bedroom with the able facing the wall
aire images/Getty Images

4. Technology

Inviting technology into the bedroom might be doing more harm to your sex life than you realize. A revealing 2023 medical study highlighted the grip of social media addiction on approximately 210 million people globally, with 34% experiencing a fear of missing out during their digital detoxes.

Intriguingly, this addiction has been linked to a negative effect on erectile function scores. Technology in the bedroom can also serve as a distraction, diminishing the frequency of intimate encounters without many couples even noticing.

13 Surprising Reasons Your Partner Doesn’t Want Sex

Wooden nightstand with candlelight flame, vase with dry flowers and tea mug. Autumn cozy mood concept. Cute autumn hygge home decor arrangement.
Alexandr Kolesnikov/Getty Images

5. Unfavorable smells

While the loss of smell has become a well-known symptom of COVID-19, its impact can stretch to the bedroom. Many have reported that this sensory impairment has taken a toll on their sex lives, with the altered perception of smells leading to a decrease in sexual appeal.

Also unappealing is an actual foul smell. You may be used to the smell of your space to the point you don’t notice it anymore (a phenomenon many clinicians refer to as “sensory deprivation”), but keep in mind that many scientific studies have pointed out the link between sexual arousal and the sense of smell. The brain is a powerful perceptor: If you’ve ever gotten constructive criticism that your room doesn’t smell great, some fresh air, a beautiful candle, and some baking soda tucked in an inconspicuous corner could improve the mood.

What Is Edging During Sex? Certified Sex Experts Explain What to Know

Open window in bedroom
ZenShui/Sigrid Olsson/Getty Images

6. Lack of privacy

If your bedroom lacks privacy due to thin walls, windows without curtains, or doors that don’t lock, relaxing and fully engaging are likely to be challenges for a sexual partner or even for you. It may go without saying that ensuring privacy can help both partners feel more secure and uninhibited.

For more sexual health updates, subscribe to The Healthy @Reader’s Digest newsletter and follow The Healthy on Facebook and Instagram. Keep reading: