This is a hot topic that I see all the time in my practice – low libido. Given that I work with a lot of women (and couples) looking to get pregnant, it’s safe to say that low libido and makin’ a baby don’t usually go hand in hand ;). But it’s not only those mamas-to-be that are experiencing low libido – it’s men, young women, perimenopausal women, new moms, and everyone in between!
It’s a taboo topic (WHY, WHEN IT’S SO IMPORTANT?!), and one that we need to bring more awareness too, and one that we should be talking more openly about. I bet there are more people that can relate to this topic than you think …
Your libido affects so much more than the time you spend in bed. Your sex drive affects your vitality, fertility, and experience of a pleasure-full life. It literally affects your entire wellbeing! A healthy sex life has amazing hormone-balancing power and health benefits as well. And regular orgasms? SO MANY BENEFITS. Check back next week where I dig a little deeper into the the power of regular orgasms ;).
So what’s “normal” when it comes to libido? How come you’re ready to hit the sheets one night, and then have no desire for weeks afterwards? What causes a low sex drive? Let’s get into it!
While there isn’t a ton of research out there, two recent studies have indicated that:
How terrible is that?!
There are so many things that we can blame a loss of sex drive on, but here are the most common that I’m seeing these days:
Too much work
Yeah, we’re having less sex. But we’re also working harder and longer hours than we once did. Very few people have found the perfect life-work balance, and when it’s topped with social obligations and trying to climb that corporate ladder, the stress of it all is literally a libido killer. Too much stress and too much demand on your mental and physical energy results in the depletion of your poor little adrenal glands, the powerhouse glands that are responsible for the output of your stress hormones and most of your testosterone, which is where that desire for sex comes from.
Working a desk job
Speaking of work, if you are sitting at a desk for 8+ hours a day, you’re not doing your libido any favors. Sitting compresses your entire pelvic area and prevents proper blood flow and circulation. Micronutrients and hormones are prevented from circulating where they’re needed. Your lady bits just aren’t getting what they need to function at an optimal level. Incorporating movement into your daily routine will open up your pelvic area and increase blood flow to your reproductive organs. This will, in turn, help you to feel aroused more quickly and makes for better orgasms.
If you’re on your laptop / smartphone / tablet all day and all night, you are directly negatively affecting your stress and sex hormones. When you are stressed, your cortisol levels elevate, throwing all other hormones – including your sex hormones – out of whack. And really, is there anything less sexy than bringing your phone to bed with you? ROMANCE KILLER.
All of the above are reasons that your libido may be decreased, but do you know what the most common cause of low libido is? HORMONE IMBALANCE.
Of course it’s natural and biochemically appropriate to have ups and downs with estrogen throughout your cycle. But if your liver and digestive system are not operating properly, you won’t be clearing out the built up excess estrogen in your body, which results in much higher levels of circulating estrogen than is needed. This is a no-no for your libido. To find out more about Estrogen Dominance, and the natural remedies you can use to regulate your estrogen, check out Natural Remedies for Estrogen Dominance.
Remember how I mentioned stress and your adrenal glands? Our adrenal glands take the brunt of our stress-heavy modern lifestyles! Your adrenal glands are responsible for for the production of your stress hormones and a large portion of your testosterone, the primary hormone that controls desire for sex. So if the adrenals are too busy making stress hormones, this results in a decreased output of juicy sex hormones like testosterone.
If you’re on the pill, antidepressants, or other medication, they can be contributing to a hormone imbalance, which could be responsible for your lowered sex drive. The birth control pill has a lot of side effects including several that directly impact your love life – it’s been shown to literally eliminate any sex drive you may have. Antidepressants have also been shown to negatively affect a woman’s fertility. The good news is there are alternatives – talk to your doc about switching your birth control pills for the copper IUD, and explore dietary and lifestyle changes to address your mental well-being in hopes of allowing you to eventually get off antidepressants and other drugs.
Your body is primed to have a peak of sex drive around ovulation and again before your period. If this sounds foreign to you, or it has literally never been the case for you, aim to introduce as many of the following natural remedies into your lifestyle as possible:
The most effective way to support your adrenal glands is to combat the daily stressors in your life. The present world is filled with stress, that’s non-negotiable. But how you respond and react to stress is entirely in your control. Practice managing your daily stressors with ease. Some of my favorite tools for this are: restorative yoga, long slow walks in nature, biofeedback, a hot bath, a massage, or whatever else brings your unique soul pleasure!
My favorite adrenal support supplement that works wonders is Adrenotone – a combination of adaptogenic herbs and nutrients which are known to contribute to rejuvenating the adrenals. This product is designed to help support healthy cortisol levels, hypothalamic and pituitary function (HPTA axis), and catecholamine production (dopamine, norepinephrine, and epinephrine). Take 3 capsules in the morning.
Libido Stim-Female is a blend of nutraceutical and herbal ingredients for supporting healthy female sexual desire and pleasure. The combination of ingredients promotes healthy metabolism of testosterone and estrogen, and normal blood flow and adrenal function, which helps to support and nourish women’s libido. Take two capsules daily.
The Libido Stim-Male features the herb Tongkat ali, which helps maintain normal testosterone levels, and is important for supporting sexual desire and fertility (sperm concentration/motility), as well as mood and energy. The combination of Tongkat ali with DIM provides safe support for normal testosterone production, erectile function, and desire. Take two capsules daily.
Additionally there are other herbs you can use by themselves or combined together, as passion-inducing herbs that may be just what you both need to get (and stay) in the mood:
A lack of magnesium is also one of the culprits behind chronically low sex drive. Magnesium helps in the production of sex hormones – like progesterone, estrogen, and testosterone – and neurotransmitters – dopamine and epinephrine – that regulate the “urge” to have sex. Magnesium makes it harder for your testosterone to bind onto proteins and allows for more of it to remain “free” in your bloodstream – which is exactly how you want it to be for a higher sex drive. Higher levels of free testosterone makes for more desire. This mineral also has documented aphrodisiac effects, which can improve your libido and sexual performance. It also promotes muscle strength and endurance … two important factors when it comes to a sustainable sex life.
In addition to libido, magnesium plays an important role in approximately 300 other bodily processes. Here are just a few of the ways it works for you:
Cortisol regulation – magnesium calms your nervous system and prevents the creation of excess cortisol, the stress hormone.
Blood sugar balancing – magnesium helps to control insulin production and as a result reduces sugar cravings, thereby preventing blood sugar spikes which takes a major load off the adrenals.
Thyroid support – magnesium assists in the production of thyroid hormones and, being anti-inflammatory in nature, helps to prevents thyroid disease. Without magnesium, many of the thyroid enzymes that make thyroid hormone simply could not function – magnesium is responsible for converting the inactive T4 thyroid hormone into the active form of T3, which is important because the metabolism of your body cells are enhanced by T3, not inactive T4.
Sleep aid – magnesium will make sure you get to sleep and stay asleep through the night. It also prevents the chronic urination that can be a sleep interruption.
Hormone creation – magnesium actually makes your main sex hormones – progesterone, estrogen, and testosterone so if you’re just getting off the Pill and your levels are low, it can be your best friend.
So how do you increase your magnesium levels? Supplementation and diet are the easiest and most effective way! This is my favorite magnesium product – take 3 capsules at bedtime. The important thing to remember about food sources of magnesium is making sure that you are buying foods that are grown organically or from your local farmer’s market. The soil from conventional farms is depleted of magnesium because they don’t rotate their crops or let the land rest.
Typically, the foods you’ll find that are highest in magnesium are green leafy vegetables, which are packed with chlorophyll. Chlorophyll is known as the “lifeblood” of a plant and has the ability to absorb the sun’s light and turn it into energy. One major difference between human blood and chlorophyll is that human blood has iron at the center of the cell, but plants have magnesium at the center of the cell.
Other foods to incorporate into your diet to ensure robust levels of magnesium include:
DHEA is essential for the synthesis of important hormones (including testosterone) and for a variety of potential physiological responses, such as healthy aging, ongoing energy and vitality, and a balanced stress response. Take one capsule in the morning.
Zinc is considered one of the most important minerals for male sex drive and fertility. Increasing zinc levels in men has been shown to boost testosterone, improve sperm levels, and improve the quality of sperm. Take one capsule daily
Vitamin C has been shown to enhance sex drive by supporting the body’s production of male hormones that aid in arousal, predominantly androgens and progesterone. Vitamin C has also been shown to stabilize cortisol output, balancing stress hormones and thus boosting mood. Take one capsule, twice daily.
There are so many ways that you can include self care in your daily routine – buy yourself fresh flowers, indulge in a few of your guilty pleasures, get a massage. But this isn’t the only type of self care that I’m suggesting. Take matters into your own hands, if you know what I mean ;).
You need to ask for you what you want, but first you need to know what you want. Make time to research your sexuality and the underlying causes of your low libido. Read about your anatomy and the physiology behind getting “turned-on”. Once you know yourself better, don’t be shy to ask for assistance or experimentation from your partner. No partner? No problem. Then you can really take matters into your own hands more often ;). But give vibrators a pass, they’re actually limiting your pleasure. Vibrators cause your body to bypass the plateau phase of orgasm. The plateau phase is mega important for all sorts of reasons – the longer the plateau before climax, the more nitric oxide and oxytocin your body produces, which have healing benefits for the whole endocrine system. It also increases blood flow to the whole pelvic area, setting you up for future orgasms and higher sex drive – and who doesn’t want that?!
1. Recent studies have shown that we’re having less sex than we were 10 years ago, so you aren’t alone in your low libido woes!
2. Low libido tends to be a side effect of a bigger problem, like hormonal imbalance.
3. You can naturally increase your sex drive by following the simple steps laid out above!
I’d love to use this space as a forum of sorts, providing inspiration and community among my readers, so … I want to hear from you!
Do you have any tips and tricks to “get in the mood” more regularly?
Some people are believers in food being aphrodisiacs – do you have a go-to recipe to get those sexy juices flowin’?
Have you used any herbs or supplements to increase your sex drive successfully?
Spread some Libido lovin’! Sharing is caring, and I bet you have some friends who would love to read this too :).
There are many things that we can blame a loss of sex drive on, but the most common reasons include working too much, working a desk job where you sit all day, technology, and hormone imbalances. Too much stress and too much demand on your mental and physical energy results in the depletion of your adrenal glands, the powerhouse glands that are responsible for the output of your stress hormones and most of your testosterone, which is where that desire for sex comes from.
The birth control pill has a lot of side effects including several that directly impact your love life – it’s been shown to literally eliminate any sex drive you may have. Antidepressants have also been shown to negatively affect a woman’s fertility. The good news is there are alternatives – talk to your doc about switching your birth control pills for the copper IUD, and explore dietary and lifestyle changes to address your mental well-being in hopes of allowing you to eventually get off antidepressants and other drugs.
There are several nutrients that are important to include to increase libido and sex drive. This includes magnesium which helps in the production of sex hormones – like progesterone, estrogen, and testosterone – and neurotransmitters – like dopamine and epinephrine – that regulate the “urge” to have sex. Other important nutrients to consider adding in include DHEA, zinc, vitamin C, and maca.
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Sarah Jane Sandy is a certified nutrition therapist, and a fertility and women’s health expert. She has helped hundreds of women increase their fertility naturally and go on to have healthy full-term pregnancies. She has been working with women and couples trying to get pregnant for over 15 years and over 90% of the women who work with her get pregnant and have healthy babies. Learn more about her own fertility journey here. To send Sarah a message, complete her Contact Form.