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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Pieces of My Heart (and Yours)

"Love is in the air, every time I look around"... literally. February has been the season for hearts, kisses and showering your loved ones with gratitude. For some, this season is wonderful; an excuse to say "I love you" one more time; a reminder of the love you do have, in your life. For others, this month is torture; maybe you're sad you're not currently with anyone; maybe you're bitter about a past-relationship; maybe you aren't happy in your current situation. Similarly to the theme of the month, this post is on love; but before you start to roll your eyes and exit out of here, hear me out on this: This post will describe the essentials of My Q-Life; the building blocks, or pieces, of my heart (and yours) that nourish, empower and inspire us, on a daily basis. Just like Primary Foods, these are the pieces that I believe to be critical in being happy & healthy; feeling nourished and supported in every aspect of your being.

When thinking about Primary Foods, I came to the realization that those were a bit broad. Creating a life of health and happiness is made up of more than four characteristics (in my mind), and to find true alignment, we need to make sure we are cultivating the ground for ourselves to grow. I decided to create my own list of "essentials"; a guide, if you will, of the requirements for a happy and healthy life.

My Q-Life 11 Essentials for a Happy & healthy Life

My Q-Life 11 Essentials for a Happy & healthy Life


My Q-Life Founding Principles:

1. Healthy Food

This one is pretty self-explanatory; in order to be healthy, we need to make sure we're fueling our bodies properly, with the right foods. Remember, kale isn't the only healthy food out there, but greens are important! Fill yourself with healthy proteins, carbs and fats. Each is your friend; don't deprive yourself of one, for they each serve a great purpose.

Take the time to enjoy the food you're eating; don't rush through eating it. That causes issues of its own. Eat when you're hungry; stop when you're full. Listen to your body. At the point I am now, I know, even before eating something, if it's going to make me feel good or not great. Enjoy the junk food, on occasion. But make sure the majority of your meals and snacks include good, wholesome ingredients. Eating healthy doesn't need to be difficult.

 

2. Meditate

Have you checked out my Self-Care Guide yet? Meditating is one of those 'things I should really do more often' items, always on our bucket list, right? Seriously. Make time to meditate. Schedule it in your phone; just 10-15 minutes is all you need. Give yourself some quiet time; your mind needs to slow down. When our minds slow down, stress automatically begins to reduce. The stress may not go away, per say, but our response to that stress does, and that's something we can control.

So often, the idea of meditating seems easy, until we try to do it; that's why so many of us don't get it done. It's seriously HARD to sit, in silence; I know this! When we take the time to just be, breathe and relax, that's when our bodies start to open up. We can see things clearer, and our bodies become lighter.

 

3. Relationships

Your BFF. Your significant other. Your parents. Your siblings. Your co-workers. Your 'weekend hangout crew'. Relationships come in all kinds, shapes and sizes, and each one is so important in being healthy and happy. We all need relationships, of some kind, to grow.

My good friend, Holly, sent me a video by Will Smith, the other day, where Will asked whether your friends were, "feeding your flames, or dousing your fire". This really got me to thinking. Relationships are important, but GOOD relationships are crucial. Look at the last five text messages, in your phone. Who are they from? Do those individuals build you up? Do they inspire you, and help you want to become better? If they do, good; that's how it should be! If they don't, take this time to re-evaluate your friendships. Relationships give us a sense of belonging; they remind us that we're never alone.

*Don't use this as an excuse to wallow about NOT being in a romantic relationship, either. I know, I've been there; but honestly, being single is a great time to find yourself, and work to create better relationships with others... in the non-romantic way!

 

4. Create

Art. Love. Gratitude. Writing. Music. Inspiration. The list is endless. When we create something, we give our brain and our body the opportunity to grow, learn and develop. You don't need to be 'artsy' to create something; we're all artists. Life is our canvas, and it's up to us to create something that will beautify ourselves, and beautify the world.

 

5. Sex

Before I go on, I want you to take all judgements and throw them out the window. Sex isn't bad. Sex isn't sinful. It isn't something to be ashamed of. It isn't something we should be hard-up for (LOL... I had to), but it's also not something we should go into lightly, either. Sex is natural. It's something our bodies are hardwired to want; something we desire. In a relationship, it's one of the best ways to connect with your partner. Sex, in my opinion, is so much better when you're in love; however, I realize that often, love has nothing to do with it; and that's okay, too.

Maybe you're not in a relationship, right now. Maybe casual sex is something you're doing. That's okay... if you're okay. Speaking as a woman, it's incredibly hard to have sex with someone and not grow attached. So pay attention to your feelings, and only give your body to someone if it feels right.

Maybe sex isn't happening - in a relationship, or out of one. And in this case, I'd recommend you to take a look at your own sexuality, over your sex (for the current time). Do you love your body? Do you touch your body? Being sexual, with ourselves, is incredibly taboo, however, it's a great way we can focus on better loving ourselves, relationship or not. Never be ashamed to touch your body; for touching your body opens up a sexual door to pleasure, discovery and self-love.

 

6. Self

My last post really explains this, in detail. Happiness is an inside job, and before we can love others, we need to work on loving ourselves. I find this especially important when it comes to romantic relationships. Do you love yourself? Can you enjoy the time you have, alone? It's incredibly difficult to love someone else, and give them what they need, when you don't have the same love for yourself. Maybe you're TOTALLY AND COMPLETELY IN LOVE WITH YOURSELF, and struggling with not being in a relationship. That's where having a good sense of self comes in, as well. Be confident with yourself, and your singleness. You don't need someone else to prove anything, or to be someone. Honestly, when we're alone is when our sense of self shines most.

Self-care falls under this category, too. When you legitimately care for yourself, you'll TAKE care of yourself. View it as a garden; your brain and your heart cannot (and will not) grow, or bloom, without taking proper care to make sure the seeds are first planted, then watered and monitored, daily. Do you feel like a good person? Are you proud of the decisions you make - the things you stand up for? Are you a parent? Do you feel like a positive role-model for your child? This all falls under having a positive sense of self. Without ourselves, we don't have anything; remember that.

 

7. Laughter

Laughter is the world's best medicine. It relaxes the body, strengthens the immune system, releases endorphins and burns calories. It's literally the wonder drug! When was the last time you laughed? Truly, whole-heartily, deep-bellied laughed? When you think of situations, or friends that allow you to laugh the most, what/who do you think of? Can you spend more time in those situations, and around those people? There absolutely is a place for seriousness, in life, however, the majority of situations can benefit more from laughter, and optimism.

 

8. Exercise

This one's pretty self-explanatory, also. We know exercise burns calories, it releases endorphins (similar to laughter) and allows us to tone up. I want you to recognize, though, that exercise comes in many different forms - there's not one way to move, nor should there be. Are you tired of running? Stop! Are you sore from overdoing it, at the gym? Stop! Switch things up. Trust me, your body and your mind will thank you.

Something I always recommend, to my members, is to find a form of exercise that they enjoy; because when you enjoy something, you're more likely to do it, often. Exercise shouldn't always be something you dread. I realize, sometimes, this is the case, but always listen to yourself. Push back when you're feeling tired; push forward when you feel you can. Start where you are, when it comes to moving. Even if that's just 10-15 minutes, a day. A walk around the block, a hike in your favorite park, popping in a fitness DVD, dancing in your kitchen... the opportunities are endless! Just get out and move!

 

9. Home

"Home is where the heart is." Sound familiar? This is true, but there's also something incredibly important about having a safe space to come back to, to fall asleep in, at the end of the day. "Home" is important.

I had a college professor once tell our class that it was interesting to listen to people talk about "home", depending on the age they were. In high school, obviously, your house is your house. When moving away to college, "home" is still, usually, your parents' house; the place you'd go on the weekends and for summer vacation. As you get older, and begin to find your own place, spend more time at your own place, that's when things begin to change. Maybe your "home" changes; your comfort level begins to develop at a new location.

My definition of home is anywhere I can walk around naked (honestly). I can pee with the door open. I can lay on the floor. I can take my bra off, at the end of the day, sit in my chair, and snuggle with my kitty. It's a safe space; a quiet place. It's the place I feel comfortable coming back to; it's clean. You need "home"; you need a place to feel safe.

It takes some time to find "home", after moving out of the house you spent your childhood in. I've finally reached a point where I call my house "home", but let me tell you, there's no more comforting feeling I get than driving down that gravel road, into my parents' driveway. That will always be "home". Home is a place you can come back to; it's always a place you're welcome.

 

10. Love

Love should be like breathing. It should be just a quality in you - wherever you are, with whomsoever you are, or even if you are alone, love goes on overflowing from you. It is not a question of being in love with someone - it is a question of being love.
— Osho

Love can carry so many definitions, and this description is very similar. Love for yourself, love for another, love for your pets, love for your family, love for your neighbors. I've shared this quote (to the right), on Valentine's Day, for the past couple of years now...

So often, especially this time of year, we're too focused on being IN love. That's not it, at all! Relationship or no relationship, love should never be about DOING more than BEING. I want you to think about what the qualities of BEING love would look like? And to reiterate, not being IN love - BEING LOVE. How would you act? How would you present yourself? Focus on being love; giving yourself love, first, with the thoughts you create, the words you say, the actions you show, so that you can then go love others.

 

11. Purpose

I mentioned earlier not necessarily loving the four original Primary Foods, just because of their broadness, but also because of the "career" element. See, as an individual who has suffered, a lot, with finding alignment in career, I don't necessarily believe that that factor fits everyone; or be a depiction of a happy & healthy life, or not. Sometimes, we won't have a job where we're making enough money. Sometimes, we're working, but not feeling great about it. Sometimes, we find ourselves without a job, living back with our parents, or digging into Indeed.com, daily.

I wanted to change things a little. Instead of using "career" as one of my essentials, I'm using "Purpose", because that feels so much better, in my soul. Purpose is something we're all searching for; something we all are wanting. A reason to wake up in the morning; something that excites us; something that drives us to push forward. For some of us, maybe that IS a career. Maybe we're proud of the work we do, in the job we're at. For others, maybe we're a parent, or a stay-at-home-parent, and that brings us purpose. Maybe we volunteer, or snuggle with our pet, or visit our parents, or grandparents, weekly. Purpose can be whatever brings you joy - whatever fills your cup up. Whatever it is, you need it; you need to have purpose.

I struggled with finding my purpose for a very long time; some days, I still struggle. My hope is that you never give up searching; that you never feel discouraged to the point where you give up. Look at your interests, your goals, your loves; where do you spend the most time, physically and mentally? Use those as a road map - allowing you to get closer to your purpose.


These are my Primary Foods ("Essentials"); the focal points needing attention, daily, in order to live the best life we can. Each essential makes up part of the heart - flowing in a collage of color, similar to our own self. This reminds us that not one is more important than the other, and that each essential relies on another, in order to flow accordingly. When one is missing, or lacking in color, that's when we find ourselves struggling - in mind, in body and/or spirit.

 

(Thesis), a short statement, usually one sentence, that summarizes the main point or claim of an essay, research paper, etc., and is developed, supported, and explained in the text by means of examples and evidence.
— Dictionary.com

Do you remember in your high school English class, when you first learned about properly writing papers? Do you remember creating a thesis statement?

When thinking of these essentials, I want you to think about it in terms of being your "thesis" - a short statement, summarizing the main points; needing to be explained by means of examples and evidence, later on.

These essentials are all part of our heart; they're explained, briefly, however, in order to explain yourself, and your story, you need to take each one of those essentials and make it your own; creating the color and the collage. Let these Founding Principles summarize the way in which you live, and let the actions you take, and the pictures you paint, be your evidence.


From here on out, every weekly post will cover one of the 11 Essentials. It's my hope that we can start to bring more color to each essential of our heart... one piece at a time.

xoxo,

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