Let's Talk About Sex: Natural Remedies to Improve Libido
Whether it's Valentine's Day or not, sometimes we all feel the pressure to want to have sex and feel sexy. So what are you to do if your libido is nowhere to be found?
First, don’t worry but listen up, there is often an underlying cause for your lack of libido.
Second, you may find comfort in the fact that you’re not alone. One study published in 2017 found that the majority of American adults, both single and couples, are having sex less frequently than they did in the late 1990s (1). Clinically, I see patients with concerns for low libido all the time. And it’s not just age-related decline; I see 20 and 30-year-olds with low libido too.
We’ve got to do something about this! I feel sexuality and sexual satisfaction is underrepresented in the health and wellness space. Sex and orgasm have a considerable influence on our health and wellbeing. Humans are physical creatures, and a happy, healthy sex life (for singles and couples) is great for the mind, body and soul. Orgasms help balance hormones, and they release endorphins that are great for our mood and stress reduction.
It goes beyond the physical. The reality is, having a low libido can say a lot about the state of your health. It can often be a sign of an underlying imbalance or even a side effect of a medication. Don’t just settle for the age-old myths that it’s “normal” for your libido to vanish in a long term relationship, after having kids, or with aging. Take action!
What causes low libido?
Low testosterone in both men and women of reproductive age and in menopause and andropause
Low or imbalanced estrogen and progesterone levels in women or reproductive age and in menopause
High estrogen in men
Stress, anxiety, depression
Sexperts and scientists agree that our brain is our biggest sex organ. So if you’re feeling anxious, depressed or having relationships issues, it's not unusual to find it challenging to get your head in the game and be present.
Cortisol, most well known as the stress hormone, lowers libido in both the short and long term. Cortisol triggers the nervous system into a fight or flight response which suppresses non-essential functions for immediate survival. Chronically elevated cortisol can deplete your sex hormones because they come from the same precursor hormone, pregnenolone.
Side effects of medication
One of the main culprits I see is birth control pills. It’s a double edge sword - you can have sex without worrying about pregnancy…but you no longer desire it. That's because birth control pills alter your natural hormone production and hormones are essential for desire.
Antidepressants and some other medications can also negatively impact your libido. Be sure to talk to your doctor before stopping any medications.
As you can see, there are many physical causes of low libido but I also want to give a shout out to the mental/emotional aspect. If you are having relationship problems, have shame or guilt around your sexuality, or have past sexual trauma, I encourage you to seek help from a therapist. A sex therapist, in particular, can be very helpful in identifying and addressing issues around sex.
Spicing things up with aphrodisiac herbs
Damiana: Is an aphrodisiac and a euphoric (causes a sense of euphoria). It’s useful in the treatment of depression and anxiety, as well as low libido. It nourishes the nervous system and helps to cultivate an overall sense of satisfaction. It tastes lovely as a tea
Shatavari: Is known as the herb for "her with 1,000 husbands". It’s commonly used for women’s health in ayurvedic medicine, but can also be used for men. It is an adaptogen meaning it helps the body adapt to stress and increases sexual potency.
Ashwaghanda: In ayurvedic medicine, ashwagandha is considered a premier male sexual tonic. It’s an adaptogenic herb and is also a nervine, meaning it calms the nervous system.
Cocoa: The beans contain the chemical that is released by the brain when people fall in love. It contains the building blocks your body needs to make serotonin, one of the neurotransmitters involved in sexual arousal. It also contains antioxidants that are known to decrease blood pressure and protect the heart.
Maca root: Is considered a superfood, and has been used for thousands of years in South America. It enhances fertility and libido in both men and women.
Mating In Captivity by Esther Perel: a great book with actionable tips to rekindle or keep desire alive in a long term relationship. It isn’t uncommon for desire to dwindle over time, but it doesn't have to! I highly recommend her books and even the resources on her website.
She Comes First by Ian Kerner: it might look like a book about smoothies, but it’s not. It’s a helpful and entertainingly written resource to enhance your skills in the bedroom.
Layla Martin: you've got to check her out! Layla has great resources for women, men and couples. Her website is packed with fun videos, e-books, courses and a real, genuine approach.
Happy Valentines Day,