Your Libido and You (Figuring Out Why it Left, and How to Get it Back): Part One

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 Libido

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

Sex Hormones

First, let’s talk sex hormones and their effect on libido.

Testosterone

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

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

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.

“Feel-good” Hormone

Oxytocin

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.

stress

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.

feeling self-conscious

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

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.

Medications

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.

Medical conditions

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!

Low estrogen

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!

xoxo,

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Foods That Aren't Benefiting Your Hormones

Photo credit of Sakara Life.

Photo credit of Sakara Life.

Lately, I’ve talked with so many women who are suffering from hormone-related problems: acne, PMS, infertility and mood-swings. While hormones can be tricky to manage (I’m currently dealing with my own struggles), there is one thing that significantly plays a role in healthy hormones: FOOD. Food is medicine, and in this day and age, there are many foods that don’t benefit our hormones, and in fact, can make them more screwed up. Today, I’m talking which foods might be worth considering to ditch, in order to help your body heal.

** Please note: I am not a medical professional, and am not recommending, or promoting any specific lifestyle, or diet. These opinions are my own, based on research and experience. I follow the idea of bio-individuality, which means that everybody and every BODY is different. What works for me, might not work for you. Also, I am not advising you 100% remove these all from your diet. This is just a post offering suggestions, if you’re struggling. Through my education and experience, I’ve learned a lot about hormones and holistic ways to heal. I’m always offering coaching options, if you struggle with hormones.

dairy

Many of the dairy-options out there contain synthetic hormones, and antibiotics, that contribute to your body’s toxic-load. A1 casein has been shown to cause higher levels of inflammation, which can contribute to leaky gut. When the gut isn’t working properly (and when toxins are seeping out of it, into your blood stream), other health concerns can become prevalent, such as acne, and a compromised immune system.

What’s a better option?

DIY Nut Milk! Seriously, making your own milk has never been easier! Plus, it’s free of added ingredients and crap your body doesn’t need! Maybe you’re more of a “BUT WHAT ABOUT CHEESE!” person. Girl, dairy-free cheese options are better than ever!! Do yourself a favor and say no to Daiya (it’s gross)! Choose nut cheeses (like Miyoko’s, which is my current favorite)!

gluten

Like dairy, gluten contributes to inflammation of the gut, and is often laden with pesticides. Many pesticides contain synthetic estrogen, which can disrupt your hormones and cause hormonal health issues like irregular cycles, PCOS, and infertility. Research shows that 75 percent of endometriosis-sufferers will see improvement after 12 months on a gluten-free diet

What’s a better option?

Going “gluten-free” has almost become a fad of its own; it’s not HARD to be gf these days, however, try to stay away from all of the packaged gf products, as much as you can. A lot of these products can come along with lots of unwanted, unhealthy additives. Remember: being “gluten free” doesn’t mean “being healthy”. Eat whole grains: quinoa and brown rice are fantastic options, and baking with coconut and almond flours are wonderful. Cassava flour is my go-to or things like taco shells and chips!

soy

Soy is highly-debatable, nowadays. Processed soy is not good for women, whereas unprocessed, organic, fermented soy, in small amounts, can be helpful. The phytoestrogens in soy can contribute to estrogen-dominance, which is especially not great for women with hormone imbalance conditions (like Endometriosis, PCOS, fibroid sufferers and those with ovarian cysts). Processed soy is anything that substitutes like soy milk, soy meat, soy cheese, soy yogurt. 

What’s a better option?

Unprocessed, organic, fermented soy (like miso, natto, tempeh, soy sauce) is very good for you in small amounts. During your menstrual phase is the time to indulge in these, as your body will best benefit from the nutrients and phytoestrogens.

caffeine

Coffee and black and green teas strip your body of essential B vitamins, magnesium, and zinc (which can interfere with your gut). Caffeine can also cause cysts (in breasts and ovaries), and for women with PCOS, Fibroids, Endometriosis, Ovarian Cysts, and Fibrocystic breasts- caffeine is a guaranteed way to make more cysts. For everyone else with hormonal sensitivity, it might not cause cysts, but it will disrupt your system. Caffeine can also contribute to fertility issues, disrupting ovulation by increasing cortisol and putting stress on the adrenals.

What’s a better option?

This one is hard, I understand! “Not my coffee!” Giving up coffee is hard! First, if you find you NEED your morning coffee to function, please consume food BEFORE your morning cup of joe; that is essential! If you’re wanting to cut ties, all-together, there are some wonderful ways to make it easier. I’ve developed MANY caffeine-free latte recipes, so check them out (type “coffee” in the search bar). *And check out my newest post, “Swap Coffee for Cacao”.

red meat

Red meat is inflammatory, and it often comes loaded with synthetic growth hormones, antibiotics, and from animals fed with pesticide-laden crops. This study compared 504 healthy women and 504 women with endometriosis, finding that women who ate beef every day were nearly twice as likely to have endometriosis, while those who got seven or more fruit and vegetable servings a week were at least 40 percent less likely (Flo Loving).

What’s a better option?

You need to be conscientious about the red meat you do choose to eat – make sure it’s pasture-fed and organically raised. Limit your red meat intake to once, or twice a week (and if you can, eat it only during your Luteal Phase), which is the best time for your body to process it, according to Cycle Syncing. Remember all of the other protein options out there!

Canola, sunflower, safflower, vegetable oil 

These cooking oils have more omega-6 than omega-3 and this produces inflammation. Check out my blog post on choosing better cooking oil alternatives.

What’s a better option?

General best practice: If an oil is heated beyond its smoke point, it gives off toxic smoke. Olive oil has a low smoking point, so cooking with it runs the risk of creating smoke that contains compounds that are harmful to human health.

  • For salads: Olive oil is my favorite.

  • For baking/cooking/sautéing: Coconut and avocado oil is better, since they have a higher smoke point. Trader Joes has the cheapest, high-quality coconut oil I can find, FYI! Primal Kitchen makes a delicious Avocado Oil! Buy it from their website and get 10% off, using “KATE10”, or on Thrive Market. 25% off your first order! *Both of these oils are excellent on hormone health!

    *These are my favorites, but this does not mean there aren’t other options out there!

Pesticide-laden foods

Pesticides add synthetic hormones to our bodies, and compromise our liver, which can lead to excess estrogen. These synthetic hormones can contribute to hormone issues.

What’s a better option?

This study shows the positive effects of going organic, for just two weeks! Follow the Dirty Dozen, when you can - not all foods have the same pesticide-load.

alcohol

Alcohol impairs our liver function and increases the amount of excess estrogen circulating in the body. Women process alcohol at a much slower rate than men, meaning that the impact is faster and stronger. Drinking alcohol forces your liver to use antioxidants and vitamin C to break it down, which leaves you vitamin and mineral deficient. It also raises your estrogen levels, which worsens symptoms of PCOS, fibroids and endometriosis – and any estrogen-dominant hormonal health issue.

What’s a better option?

Take a B-complex supplement earlier, before you know you’ll be drinking. Drink up, when it comes to water, and take Vitamin C! Limit your intake to two glasses, and red wine is best! Make sure you never drink on an empty stomach, either; snacks and food are important!


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I know reading this might seem a little overwhelming! The sad truth is that the foods and beverages we consume have an impact on our bodies, always. Am I saying you have to eliminate all of these in order to be healthy? No! Am I saying that by eliminating these you WILL find hormone-balance? No! I just want to help you become more conscious of what you decide to put in your body, and the effects it does have on your body!

Remember, you DO have options! Click here to receive 20% off your first Sakara Life order, which delivers food free of everything we just mentioned! Code: “XOKATES”

Where’s your head at? Anything you want to try to crowd out, or cut back on? Remember, I’m here!

xoxo,

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