You’ve probably seen ads in your favorite magazine about some special supplement that gives you magical powers in the bedroom. Maybe you’ve addressed low sex drive with your doctor. Low libido and erectile dysfunction might even be damaging your relationship with your partner.
While numerous articles tell us how to improve sex drive, many neglect the underlying hormonal imbalances that contribute to low libido, erectile dysfunction, and other sexual problems.
Some culprits are obvious, like a processed diet or lack of exercise. Others might not be.
I see many patients who think because they’re calorie free, sodas are a free pass. Yet studies show drinking diet soda daily significantly increases our risk for obesity and Type 2 diabetes. Libido takes a hit as our diabesity risk increases.
A low-fat diet can also damage your sex drive. One study with 30 healthy, middle-aged men found those switch to a lower-fat diet had a significant decrease in serum total testosterone concentrations. Another study found lowering dietary fat in 39 middle-aged, healthy men led to a consistent 12% lowering of circulating androgen levels.
Rather than demonize all fats, you want to incorporate plenty of healthy fats, including avocado and wild-caught fish.
A toxic overload can also damage libido. We often don’t connect poor health or symptoms like low sex drive environmental toxins, yet their effects can detrimentally impact libido. To use one example, lead exposure has been linked to depression, irritability, interpersonal conflict, fatigue, anger, tension, and decreased sex drive.
Lack of libido and erectile dysfunction are multi-factorial problems, and I don’t want to oversimplify the issue here. Blood work can reveal abnormal testosterone levels (in men) or estrogen dominance (in women) and other hormonal imbalances that can reduce sex drive. Some people should work with a functional medicine doctor and incorporate hormonal therapy.
Yet balancing blood sugar and optimizing insulin as well as other hormones can dramatically impact sex hormones. To find that balance and get your drive back, incorporate these six strategies.
1. Lose weight.
Belly fat does nothing for our sex drive, yet it increases your risk for type 2 diabetes, low testosterone in men, estrogen dominance in women, inflammation, nutrient deficiencies, and numerous chronic diseases.
2. Eat real food.
Cutting out sugary, processed foods and eating whole, unprocessed, real foods is the best way to reduce inflammation and normalize hormone levels so you optimize sex drive. If you don’t eat high-quality food, you become inflamed, fat, with low sex drive.
The correct diet coupled with an intelligent workout plan can do wonders for your sex drive and mood. Studies show interval training can improve sex-related hormones such as testosterone, cortisol, and growth hormone.
4. Limit alcohol.
“It provokes the desire, but it takes away the performance,” wrote William Shakespeare in Macbeth. A glass of red wine can help you relax and put you in the mood, yet three glasses can crash the mood, leading to low sex drive, erectile dysfunction, and other problems in the bedroom. Drinkers should have no more than three glasses of wine or alcohol a week.
5. Control stress.
Being constantly stressed becomes a sure way to put your sex drive to bed (pun fully intended). Whether that means yoga, meditation, deep breathing, or a simple leisurely walk, find active relaxation that works and prioritize it.
6. Get eight hours of sleep every night.
Studies show insufficient sleep can lower sex hormones like testosterone. Your body also makes growth hormone during deep sleep, so if you're waking up frequently during the night or not sleeping enough, you might not be making enough of this hormone. Plus, when you're tired, groggy and over-caffeinated, you're hardly in the mood for sex. Remedy that with eight hours of deep, uninterrupted sleep every night.
If you’ve struggled with low sex drive or other issues, what strategy would you add to this list? Share yours below or on my Facebook fan page.