Libido is a term used to describe a person’s desire for sexual activity. Some people just do not have the urge or desire for sex. A decrease or no sex drive can turn sex into a chore instead of a pleasurable activity. There are many causes to a low libido including hormone imbalances, arousal disorders, medications, emotional trauma, stress, depression, a person’s belief system, physical pain and more. While some of these reasons are an easy fix, i.e. discontinuing the medications, others are more complex and may need a qualified doctor to help figure out what the cause is. It also might be a combination of different factors.
It is normal to have dips in your libido. But what if it last a long time? What if it is affecting your relationship? What can you do if you want to change it?
There are many treatments depending on the root of the cause. If it is psychological one can undergo therapy, hypnosis, guided imagery, and cognitive-behavioral therapy for example. A person’s degree of comfort with sexuality (erotophilia) can have a profound effect on one’s libido. If it is hormone related there are herbs, bioidentical hormones, and supplements that can be used to correct the imbalance. Acupuncture is one therapy that can be used to help balance a person’s hormone system and improve libido.
Here are seven steps I recommend to increase your libido naturally:
- Know your anatomy: Knowing how your body and your pleasure zones becomes aroused can increase sexual satisfaction. Men and women both become “erect” with sexual arousal. If proper time is not given for this to occur, sex can be uncomfortable, painful, and you are less likely to achieve orgasm. The vagina, on average, is 4 inches long with little moisture when unaroused. When you become aroused, your brain sends signals to increase blood flow to the pelvic area. This causes swelling of the clitoris and the vaginal labia. The vagina elongates to over 7 inches and becomes lubricated. While most of the penis is located on the outside of the body, the base extends deeply inside. The perineum, the area between the testicles and the anus can be massaged to access this portion of the penis which many men find highly enjoyable.
- Our brain is our primary sex organ. Thinking about sex throughout the day can increase your sexual appetite. Our lives can be overrun with work, household chores, children, and so forth, and sex becomes less of a priority. Erotic thoughts throughout the day can help increase the blood flow to the genitals and can be a form of foreplay. Erotic thoughts can be anything that arouses you. Have fun with it. You can also try reading erotic literature. There is a lot of literature that can provide you erotic material specific to your taste and help facilitate your sexual fantasies.
- Balance your hormones. While it is not always about the hormones, they can play a role. Males and females have the same hormones, just in different amounts. Low amounts in androgens (testosterone and DHEA) can result in a decreased interest in sex, erection strength, ability to become aroused and have an orgasm as well as make people feel tired and low in energy. Low estrogen levels can cause depression and vaginal atrophy making sex painful for the woman. During menopause and andropause (yes men go through “the change” too) many people experience a decrease in their sex drive as well as many other symptoms associated with the aging process. Depression and testosterone insufficiency are the two most common causes of decreased libido in men. Our hormone system is very complex; it is not enough just to have one or two hormones tested as it doesn’t provide the entire picture. If you are experiencing symptoms of hormone imbalance including fatigue, poor mood, reduced memory, trouble sleeping, weight gain, dry skin, wrinkles, aching muscles, hot flashes, or vaginal dryness—consider coming into SFNM and have your hormones tested. Our doctors can recommend a variety of specialized tests and can help determine the most specific ones for you.
- Fix your gut. Believe it or not, digestive problems can contribute to a low libido. When you’re bloated or your belly aches, it is hard to feel sexy. Those with undiagnosed food allergies, celiac disease and IBS have a significantly lower amount of sex and a lower satisfaction with their sex life. Studies have shown an increase in sexual satisfaction and frequency after gut health has been restored. Our doctors at SFNM specialize in gut health and can help you feel better and thus feel sexier.
- Exercise to stay in shape for Sexercise. Keeping physically fit helps with blood circulation which is needed to become aroused. Exercise also improves mood, increases energy, sexual stamina and endurance. Thirty minutes of endurance and strength exercise daily can improve your libido and sex life dramatically.
- Eat right. Nutrition plays a huge part in your libido. Taking nutrients like fish oil, zinc, magnesium, selenium, vitamins A, D, and E can boost your sex drive as most people are low in these nutrients which can decrease your libido. Eat a healthy diet that includes lean animal protein choosing free range and organic meats. Your hormones are made from cholesterol obtained from animals. If you are a vegan or vegetarian it is important to have yearly blood work done to make sure you are getting enough healthy cholesterol in your diet as well as other vital nutrients needed to maintain an active sex life. Eating plenty of cooked green leafy vegetables like kale and spinach as well as a variety of other vegetables and fruits provides your body the nutrition needed to support a healthy sex drive as well as heart health. A decrease in cardiovascular health can greatly affect one’s ability to become aroused and can decrease the strength of your erection (for both men and women). Eliminate processed sugars from your diet. Sugar causes inflammation in the body and can make people feel sluggish and worsen chronic pain, increase risk of diabetes, decrease testosterone, as well as cause heart disease; all can have a drastic effect on your libido.
- Use herbs wisely. Herbs have been used for centuries as aphrodisiacs, but herbs can do more than enhance sexual desire. They can help set the mood, increase your libido and sexual pleasure. There are herbs specific for men that can help with erectile dysfunction, endurance, prostate problems, and andropause. Saw palmetto, which has been used traditionally to increase sex drive of both men and women, is very effective in treating prostate problems which can certainly interfere with sexual desire. Women commonly complain of lack of energy, low libido, and menstrual problems like PMS and cramps; all of which can be helped by herbs. One of my favorite herbs to increase a women’s sexual drive, normalize the menstrual cycle, and relieve PMS is vitex agnus-castus, commonly known as chasteberry. He shou wu is a Chinese herb known to help stimulate sex drive, increase sexual desire, increase blood flow to the genitals, and support the endocrine (hormone) system in the body for both men and women. There are many other herbs that can be used to help increase your sex drive. SFNM doctors are specially trained in herbal medicine and can help you choose herbs that are right for you.
Having a healthy sex life and libido are part of living a balanced life. If you would like help increasing your sex drive, desire, orgasms, sexual knowledge or would like to discuss your sexual health in a nonjudgmental and knowledgeable environment, our doctors are here for you.