Often, right at the very end of our consultation time, my clients will mumble that their libido has tanked, as if its not as important as health issue X, Y, or Z that we have been addressing. But a loss of libido is a) nothing to be embarrassed about and b) should be taken as seriously as your other health concerns.
Taking a holistic view is just as important when assessing a drop in sexual desire as it is with any other issue. Some underlying contributors to a change in libido include:
- medication – some medications impact sexual arousal, including the oral contraceptive pill. Don’t stop taking medicine that you have been prescribed, but speak to your GP or health provider about alternatives if you think this is a factor for you.
- nutritional status – protein, zinc and magnesium are some of the nutrients required to make adequate levels of hormones such as testosterone, which is important for sex drive (this is for men AND women – although we tend to think of testosterone as a male hormone, women make it too, albeit in smaller quantities).
- cardiovascular health – blood flow is super important for sexual arousal in men and women. Eating a diet rich in polyphenols (plant compounds), omega3 fatty acids (from oily fish and some nuts and seeds), and exercising regularly can all help to support the cardiovascular system. Foods such as beetroot and garlic aid in dilating blood vessels for improved blood flow, and spices like ginger, chilli and cinnamon also help with circulation.
- exposure to chemicals – ubiquitous in the environment, endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) are found everywhere – plastics, furnishings, personal care products – and can cause the delicate interplay of our hormones to get seriously out of whack. Assess your exposure to EDCs and take steps to mimimise and eliminate wherever possible.
- stress – a major libido-killer! Finding ways to reduce the mental and emotional stress in your life is important for your overall wellbeing, including your sexual health. This is often easier said than done and looks different for everyone – exercise, mindfulness and meditation, positive social connection, time in nature, removing toxic relationships, changing jobs – find a way that works for you and stick to it.
- know your cycle – for women, the ebbs and flows of hormones during a menstrual cycle cause corresponding ebbs and flows of desire. Typically, women have higher libido around ovulation (because nature is smart) so it helps to know where you are in your cycle.
A flat-lined libido should be taken seriously as it is an important part of overall wellness. If you have noticed changes to your sexual desire, don’t fob it off – take steps to undercover what is really going. You might find that some small changes is all it takes to get it back.