Libido

Written by: Taryn Symington

Your libido – aka your sex drive – can be an indicator of your overall health. 

Low libido can be a problem no matter what age or gender you might be, and it can also have significant effects on your relationships, self-esteem, and mental health. 

In general, low libido can be caused by:

  • Low testosterone 
  • Hormonal imbalances caused by oral contraceptives
  • Stress
  • Depression  
  • Chronic pain
  • Poor blood flow related to cholesterol, diabetes, and dysregulated blood pressure
  • Hypothyroidism (under-active thyroid) 
  • Age 
  • Medication side effects

How hormones contribute to libido changes in women 

Libido typically decreases once a woman reaches menopause, due to changes in her hormone levels (estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone). 

Estrogen production drops 70-80% once a woman has entered menopause. This decrease in estrogen can contribute to vaginal dryness, atrophy of the vulva (the external genital area), and pain with intercourse. Vaginal dryness results in reduced lubrication, but also typically comes with a decreased desire for sex. Reduced estrogen also causes the vulva to lose its ability to hold onto collagen, fat, and water, which reduces muscle tone and contributes to atrophy. This decreased muscle tone puts women at a higher risk of injury and infection. 

Increased or imbalanced progesterone may contribute to a lowered libido, but during pregnancy, progesterone and estrogen both increase, which may increase sexual desire. Postpartum and while breastfeeding, ovulation is decreased or non-existent due to the drop in progesterone and estrogen. This drop in estrogen and progesterone may be another cause for a lower desire for sex.

Testosterone starts to decline during your 30s, and decreases by about 50% in menopause. This lowered androgen (i.e. testosterone) production contributes to vaginal dryness and can be a cause of reduced sexual desire. 

So, what can you do to boost your libido? 

While no food will magically boost your libido immediately, there are some foods that increase nutrients necessary for optimal hormone health and balance. 

  • Chocolate: Cacao is high in magnesium, a mineral essential for hundreds of processes in the body. Cacao also contains phenylethylamine (PEA) which supports serotonin (the “happy hormone”) production in the brain. 
  • Oysters: Oysters are one of the best sources of zinc, which is necessary for healthy reproductive function in both men and women. 
  • Collagen: Helps maintain elasticity of the vaginal wall
  • Salmon, sardines: Fish such as salmon and sardines are a great source of healthy fats – particularly omega-3s, which reduce inflammation and support more optimal hormone levels
  • Avocados, olive oil: Fats to support healthy hormone production
  • Liver: High in iron, vitamin A, vitamin B6, folate – all beneficial for healthy testosterone production to boost libido. 
  • Spirulina, spinach, broccoli: A good source of iron and other micronutrients that benefit detoxification and energy production.
  • Brazil nuts: Eating 1-3 brazil nuts gives you your daily recommended intake of selenium, a mineral important for hormonal balance, thyroid health, and liver detoxification. 
  • Pumpkin seeds: High in zinc which benefits mood, digestive health, and hormone balance

Lifestyle Changes 

  • Exercise: Exercise reduces stress, improves blood circulation, and can increase levels of testosterone
  • Reduce stress: Stress can release hormones cortisol and adrenaline which can lead to a lower libido. Creating a routine that helps to reduce stress will be helpful in improving your sexual desire both mentally and physically! 
  • Sleep: Sleep helps to balance hormones, reduce blood pressure and inflammation, protects your heart, and maintains proper blood sugar regulation – all factors that contribute to your sexual health and libido
  • Breathing techniques and pelvic floor exercises: deep belly breathing can lower heart rate, and reduce stress. Pelvic floor exercises can increase blood flow, to improve sensation and pleasure, and strengthen the pelvic muscles. 

See a practitioner! 

There may be herbs and supplements available to help to boost your sex drive, but there is no “one size fits all” approach. 

Our holistic nutritionist Taryn can help balance your hormones and regulate stress levels using a holistic approach. Book with her HERE.