What's Really Hurting Your Sex Drive + 5 Ways To Fix It
If you ever feel like your love life is lagging and others are having all the fun in bed, you may be tempted to blame the lack of passion on your partner.
But while relationship issues, communication problems, and a straight-up lazy lover can definitely leave you feeling cold, so can an unbalanced endocrine system.
That’s right: Your hormones call the shots when it comes to feeling sexy — and if something is off, your libido will let you know.
Libido 101: What You Need to Know About Your Sex Drive
While every woman's cycle is different, there are generally two heat phases you should be going through every month. These are triggered by surges in testosterone that naturally occur during your cycle — the first during ovulation and the second during the luteal phase.
During these times, you should feel libidinous, sexy, and ready for action, all thanks to your chemical programming. That’s just mother nature’s genius way of making sure we continue to reproduce.
However, when your hormones are imbalanced and your libido is lagging, you may no longer feel the desire to hop in the sack. Or, even if you're able to get yourself in the mood, you feel like you’re going through the motions, with little to no payoff. You may even, like many women, feel the only way to get the best bang for your buck is to rely on a set of power tools to hit your spot.
Low libido also doesn’t discriminate by age. You can notice a flagging sex drive whether you’re in the midst of perimenopause, or are years away from this kind of hormonal upheaval. Because of the prevalence of premature hormonal aging, you could be in your 20s or early 30s and facing the same unpleasant issues women twice your age are dealing with.
While sex drives are complicated and there's a lot at play, here are a few key factors that might be to blame for a loss in libido:
3 Factors That Could Be Tanking Your Sex Drive
1. High estrogen
It’s natural and biochemically appropriate to have ups and downs with estrogen throughout your cycle.
But if your liver and digestive system are not operating ideally, you won’t be clearing out the excess estrogen efficiently from your body, and you could be stuck with higher levels of circulating surplus estrogen, which does no favors for your libido.
2. Adrenal stress
You’ve probably heard it before, but the powerhouse glands known as your adrenals are responsible for the output of your stress hormones and some testosterone — the source of most of your sexual desire. Increased output of stress hormones could mean decreased output of juicy sex hormones.
While you should certainly never quit your medication cold turkey, it’s crucial to have an open and honest conversation with your doctor to find the right kind of support and possibly wean yourself off what’s not necessary.
5 Ways to Naturally Boost Your Sex Drive
While a low libido can be frustrating, it’s also fixable. Here are a few ways to start fixing your hormones right now:
1. Support your adrenal glands to produce more testosterone.
I also recommend exercising for your cycle. Basing your workouts on when you have the most natural testosterone and when you have less ensures you won’t put yourself into adrenal fatigue. For example, doing a bootcamp during ovulation, when you have more energy, and a yoga or Pilates class during the second half of your luteal phase, when you might be experiencing symptoms of PMS, can be helpful.
2. Bring pleasure into your everyday life.
Adding pleasure to your day in simple, nonsexual ways can truly improve your ability to feel pleasure in the bedroom.
Small steps can bring about big changes. For example, put a vase of beautiful flowers on your desk or play your favorite album during your morning commute. Indulge in organic body lotions or perfumes that make you feel sexy and beautiful, and get regular massages if you can.
You’ll start to notice a difference in how you feel about yourself, your body, and sex.
3. Take matters into your own hands and find out what you like.
It’s important to know what you like, and the only real way to understand what you like is to do your research.
Read erotica and see what turns you on, learn about your anatomy and the physiology behind feeling turned on. Once you know yourself better, don’t be shy to ask for assistance or experimentation from your partner.
No partner? No problem: literally take matters into your own hands.
4. Eat right to combat estrogen overload.
If too much estrogen is the cause of your waning sex drive, you’ll want to do everything you can nutritionally to eliminate the excess hormone from your system.
To aid your liver in detoxification, try dandelion root teas, and a milk thistle supplement to help your liver more quickly metabolize estrogen. Eating healthy proteins and getting enough fats, like olive and coconut oils, can also help improve your overall hormonal balance. But avoid soy — because it's high in phytoestrogen, it can throw off your hormonal balance and leave you feeling uninspired by your partner.
5. Reconsider the Pill.
You might think birth control is your ticket to a worry-free sex life — but the Pill could actually be compromising your libido. A 2006 study found that birth control users had four times the amount of sex-hormone-binding globulin (a substance that binds testosterone and can mute libido) than non-Pill users.
Further, in another landmark study, women on the Pill who were given a sampling of sweaty men’s T-shirts to choose from were drawn to partners whose pheromones did not genetically complement their own. Women who were not on the Pill, however, chose partners with genetic compatibility.
That suggests that quitting the Pill won’t just enhance your sex drive — it could even lead you to a better mate or improve your relationship.
Need more hormone help? My free four-day hormone detox will help you understand exactly what’s out of whack and how you can get back to balance.
Alisa Vitti is a women's hormone and functional nutrition expert and pioneer in female biohacking. A graduate of Johns Hopkins University and the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, Vitti has been featured on The Dr. Oz Show, Lifetime, and has been a regular contributor for Cosmopolitan, Harper’s Bazaar, and Women’s Health. She is the founder of The FLO Living Hormone Center, the world's first menstrual healthcare platform that has helped hundreds of thousands of women around the world put their period issues like PCOS, Fibroids, Endometriosis, and PMS into remission naturally using her highly effective FLO Protocol and the FLO Balance Period Supplements, and the creator the MyFLO period app—the first and only functional medicine period tracker. She is also the author of the best-selling book WomenCode. She has presented at SXSW, TEDx, Talks@Google, Summit Series Outside, and SHE Summit and regularly trains women in the workplace on how to use her Cycle Syncing Method for greater creativity, productivity, and wellbeing at work.