I believe that sexuality is a portal to other areas of your life, and when you optimize your sex life, there are many downstream benefits that you may not realize. You’ll find freedom in other aspects of your life where there once was struggle. And when you upgrade your sexual energy, you heal from the inside out, which is far better and more sustainable than seeking the latest Band-Aid. This is true for single folks as well as people in long-term relationships.
Millions of people are struggling with little or no sex drive, and we all need to start the conversation about it. People rarely mention libido as an issue they would like to address – until you ask them personal questions – and then the naked truth is revealed: women who dread having sex with their partner and would rather sleep, men who can’t get an erection, going months or years without having a healthy intimate relationship with his spouse. Contrary to the general view, which attributes low libido as part of aging, the desire for sex remains stable in both men and women, as long as certain conditions are met.
There is lot of printed text as well as internet “gurus” out there showing how certain foods, nutrients, and lifestyle factors can boost libido and keep you stimulated in bed.
Many of them, however, neglect the underlying hormones that control sex drive. While losing your sex drive or struggling with issues like erectile dysfunction can become complex issues, hormonal imbalances play a significant role in these issues.
Conventional medicine often fails to connect the dots between how lifestyle factors – including our diet (especially low-fat, high-carb and sugar-packed diets), drinking alcohol and smoking, exposure to environmental toxins, and being chronically stressed – contribute to and exacerbate sex hormone imbalances.
As a functional medicine practitioner, we will get to the root cause of health problems like a low sex drive. So instead of just taking another pill, we find out why you have the problem in the first place? There many factors that can affect your sex drive:
Among its numerous problems, high insulin levels create sex hormone problems and can lead to infertility; hair growth where you don’t want it (your face if you’re a woman); hair loss where you do want it (your head); acne in women; low testosterone, loss of chest, leg, and arm hair, and breast growth in men; and more. When insulin goes out of control, other hormones quickly follow, and your sex drive can take a massive crash.
Testosterone is a wonderful brain-boosting hormone that improves mood, memory, motivation, overall cognitive function, and of course, sex drive.
Testosterone is not just a guy’s hormone. Imbalanced levels of this hormone in women can reduce desire, increase body fat, lower muscle mass, and create a fuzzy memory.
Insulin resistance drives down testosterone levels, significantly impairing sex drive and sexual function.
Leptin puts the brakes on your appetite. Most people don’t realize leptin also monitors sexual behavior. This hormone tells your brain to stop eating. Except when you eat a lot of sugar, processed foods, and flour, leptin doesn’t work anymore. Fat cells continue to produce this hormone, but your brain doesn’t “hear” its call and eventually becomes leptin resistant. It is often seen that insulin resistance and leptin resistance go hand in hand.
Growth hormone (GH) is your “fountain of youth” hormone that you mostly produce during deep sleep. Secreted by the pituitary gland, GH improves muscle mass, helps your body utilize fat, and helps maintain optimal libido.
Reduced muscle mass, increased abdominal obesity, and diabesity as well as lower libido are hallmark symptoms of GH deficiencies.
When you are introduced to a stressful situation, your body releases a hormone called cortisol. Cortisol is responsible for setting off all the physiological responses associated with stress.
Studies have shown that when cortisol is released into the bloodstream you become less sensitive to leptin, the hormone that tells your brain you are full. When this happens, you tend to eat more and crave more sugar. Prolonged, unremitting stress may lead to insulin resistance, diminished sex drive, and infertility.
You’ve likely experienced the effects of cortisol during a stressful situation. Sex is probably the last thing on your mind during those situations. Simply put, chronic stress crashes your sex hormones and quickly knocks you out of the mood.
Adrenal fatigue happens when your brain is not speaking very clearly to your adrenals. The brain-adrenal-axis problems cause cortisol levels to be either too high or too low, and this can leave you feeling exhausted and more interested in eating junk food than having sex.
Every cell of your body needs your thyroid hormones to function optimally. If your thyroid hormones are sluggish, it’s likely your sex drive will also be low.
Your gastrointestinal system is known in the medical literature as your “second brain,” and gut-brain connection problems like leaky gut syndrome can affect your brain-hormone connection – leaving you with no sex drive and fatigue.
One issue that is often overlooked when it comes to low libido is medication. Common pharmaceuticals like antidepressants, blood pressure medications, painkillers, and antihistamines can cause low sex drive and erectile dysfunction
Low levels of nutrients such as zinc and vitamin D can wreck your sex life.
Insufficient healthy fats
Healthy fats like coconut oil, avocados, ghee, and olive oil are needed to make healthy hormones and brain function. One study found that people who ate a low-fat diet had significantly lower testosterone levels.