Today, I’m wanting to discuss a topic that many people keep to themselves - an extremely-distressing topic, to both men and women: libido, and low sex drive. For today’s post, I’m discussing the reasons we experience low libido; it’s firstly important to realize what got us to the point, so we can determine what plan of action to take.
Low libido affects many people (especially women), and in different scenarios: maybe your sex life is put on the back-burner, when life gets hectic and stressful. Maybe sex suddenly goes from a previously-enjoyed activity, to something you no longer look forward to, or even enjoy. Maybe you no longer feel like you have the time for sex, because of schedules, or kids.
REGARDLESS, low libido is something MANY people struggle with, at some point in their life, and unfortunately, instead of openly talking about the WHY, we’re pushed to feel as if this topic is too-taboo to discuss.
Remember learning about the My Q-Life “Essentials”?! True health is about so much more than what we eat and how we exercise; and sex is a fundamental piece of ourselves. When our sexuality goes unnourished, it can further impact our stress levels and result in an essential-deficiency, a primary foods deficiency.
Low sex drive, or lack of desire for sex is much more complicated than just “being tired”. I think it’s easy, at first, for exhaustion to be the excuse, but usually, low sex drive is much more complex than that.
Symptoms of low libido can include:
inability to get, or stay sexually-aroused
lack of sexual thoughts or fantasies
lack of desire to have sex, including masturbation
distress due to lack of sexual thoughts, or desires
relationship strain, with a partner, due to lack of sexual thoughts, or desires
First, let’s talk sex hormones and their effect on libido.
Testosterone is necessary for a normal sex drive, in both men and women. Testosterone increases libido; it enlarges the clitoris, in women, and typically, women with low-testosterone report decreased sex drive.
Too little testosterone can cause low libido, but too much can also cause low libido, as well as difficulty having an orgasm. Balance, right?! It’s a difficult concept! High testosterone has been associated with aggressiveness and anger, which can interfere with sexual pleasure, and cause problems outside of the bedroom, as well. I once read that high testosterone levels can create a tendency to prefer masturbation over intercourse.
Estrogen doesn’t directly impact sexual desire, but it assists in helping keep things lubricated and elastic. Did you know that without estrogen, clitoral stimulation has almost zero effect? However, too much estrogen can block testosterone production, so balance here is essential, as well!
*Estrogen dominance is a leading cause of low sex drive, and this is something I’ve been overcoming, over the past few months. More on this to come!
Progesterone is the calming, feel-good sex hormone. It promotes relaxation and happiness. The amount of progesterone you have in your body determines the balance of the other hormones, so healthy levels of progesterone are important for a variety of reasons, in men and women.
Too little can impact sleep, mindfulness, mood and sexual desire.
Oxytocin is released in men and women, during sex and orgasm. It’s been shown to help decrease cortisol levels, and contributes to a sense of overall well-being. Feeling stressed out?! Have an orgasm! Seriously!
*It’s been shown that women with low oxytocin levels are more likely to have postpartum depression, so it’s important for new mamas to find a way to find time for regular pleasure and intimacy!
So, what exactly causes low libido? Below, I’m discussing eight different reasons for low libido.
I know you all can relate: Often, when we’re feeling stressed (or like we don’t have time), sex is one of the first things to go. Typically, this is because sex is so emotional, for women, especially. Aside from sex moving lower on the priority-list, chronic stress can continue to exacerbate the issue because the more stress we put on ourselves, the more our body overproduces cortisol, which interferes with the sex hormones.
Poor body image can make sex feel difficult - creating feelings of discomfort and shame, instead of pleasure. Regardless of the specific reasoning, feeling self-conscious during sex can take a person out of the moment, and create a barrier that prevents them from being able to relax and enjoy. .
In addition to body image issues, excess weight can actually have real effects on a person’s libido. Higher body fat can cause increased estrogen, which can decrease testosterone-production. Remember, estrogen dominance and low testosterone, both, can cause low sex drive.
How are you feeling about your body? Remember, as a holistic health coach, I specialize in helping people feel amazing in their bodies, physically and mentally. Reach out if you want to work together.
Inflammation can cause the body to overproduce cortisol, which again affects the production of estrogen, progesterone and testosterone. This can result in low libido.
When our system is inflamed, it causes our bodies to put more emphasis on healing instead of reproduction - they’re always looking out for us!
Inflammation can also cause leaky gut, and this can have toxic effects on our brains, causing fatigue, brain fog and decreased sex drive. Sex hormones have a protective effect on our nervous system, so when we’re feeling stressed, the nervous system is vulnerable. It’s all related!
Fat… Yeah, it’s essential
I want you to remember what I’m about to say… It’s important to have enough body fat and dietary fat to feel sexy, and keep your juices flowing! Did you hear that?! HAVING FAT IS GOOD!
When our bodies fear starvation, which can happen when we experience significant body fat loss, a diet too-low in fat (or even over-exercising) results in a body that’s not in the mood for sex. Instead, it’s holding onto energy to keep it alive. That makes sense, right? Again, our bod is trying to look after us! Sex hormone production decreases once body fat levels are below about 15%, in women.
Have you ever struggled with losing your period, from over-exercise, or weight-loss? This is because there isn’t enough body fat to produce adequate amounts of sex hormones.
birth control pills
Oral contraceptives are very well known for lowering levels of natural sex hormones. Remember, they’re creating SYNTHETIC hormones. NOT REAL hormones. Birth control pills are the leading cause of estrogen dominance, in women, since they contain a synthetic form of estrogen that keeps the body from producing its own.
Birth control also increases sex hormone binding globulin, which binds to testosterone, making it inactive and unavailable for use.
What’s even more interesting? SHBG levels may not drop down to normal, after birth control is stopped. They can remain high for six months, and even longer, which results in a significant effect on women’s libido.
There are quite a few medications that lower libido and decrease the ability to achieve orgasm. These can include: antidepressants, marijuana, anti-seizure drugs, opioids, blood pressure meds and anti-anxiety medications.
My job is never to tell you what you should or should not be on; that’s up to you and your doctor. However, it’s important to know your body and what might be affecting it.
There are certain medical conditions that prevent individuals from enjoying sex:
Depression can lower libido. When a person is simply not-interested in anything, that includes sexual activity. And like mentioned earlier, if anti-depressants are started, that can further inhibit sex drive and ability to achieve orgasm.
PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome) is associated with high levels of testosterone. For some women, this can be good (like mentioned earlier)! However, many other women with PCOS report difficulty achieving arousal and orgasm. PCOS can cause weight-gain, acne, irregular periods and increased body hair, which can affect sex drive, as well. *I work with women to naturally-aid PCOS.
Hypothyroidism is an autoimmune disease where inflammation levels are elevated. This interferes with production of sex hormones (like mentioned earlier). In addition, T3 is needed by the ovaries, to keep them functioning, and having low levels of T3 (like in Hypothyroidism), affect production of sex hormones.
Diabetes can affect nerves of the vulva, decreasing sensation and diminishing the ability to lubricate and have an orgasm. It can affect erections and ejaculation in men. As well, high blood sugar levels can also cause brain fog, fatigue and decreased testosterone.
Vascular disease happens when there’s inflammation and decreased circulation in the blood vessels, and greatly diminishes libido. Inflammation and narrowing of the small vessels has a great effect on clitoral response and vaginal lubrication, and erections in men. It’s said that erectile dysfunction is often an early warning sign of cardiovascular disease!
As women approach menopause, sex hormones naturally-decline, which can also cause a decrease in sexual desire. Just like having too much estrogen can affect sex drive, having too little can, too. Low estrogen is associated with decreased clitoral sensitivity, vaginal dryness, less blood flow to the vagina and difficulty achieving orgasm. Other than menopause, low estrogen can be caused by premature ovarian failure, chemotherapy, ovarian surgery, chronic kidney disease and being underweight.
How are you feeling? Maybe coming to some ideas on what’s causing your less-than excited outlook on sex? Good!
Next week, I’ll be posting ways to naturally boost your sex drive. So use this week to really take awareness: how often do you feel aroused? How’s your body feeling? Your stress levels?
Please reach out if you have any questions before-hand! Remember, this is the stuff I specialize in! I’m here to help!