So I’m talking libido. I was prompted to write about this when I was asked the question this week what my top 5 reasons are behind low sex drive. I realised I had never written specifically on the topic – I’d referred to libido so many times but not ever linked it into one post. Thing is – from a Chinese Medicine perspective, it isn’t as simple as a one size fits all approach, or taking out shares in your local oyster farm, which may explain why some things work for a percentage of the population but leave the rest lagging their tails behind them – literally. So I’m going to make this simple – my best libido enhancing tips.
You might remember a little while ago I talked about the pill. It might be better renamed as the passion killer (next to granny nickers and knee high stockings). The pill and many medications may be switching it all off – pressing all the wrong buttons – here’s why:
After post pill infertility and migraines, the most common complaint I see in the clinic is low libido of women taking the pill. Scientists have discovered that the chemicals produced in the body as a result of the pill to stop ovulation continue to suppress testosterone levels – central to sexual desire in both men and women. This can continue for up to four years once a woman stops taking it. I find this quite ironic because in theory, you can’t get pregnant whilst on the pill – but if you don’t want sex whilst on the pill, then you can’t get pregnant anyway! Don’t think it stops there – lets add to that mood swings, weight gain, brittle bones and migraines. These are just four more of the most commonly seen side effects of the pill. Time and time again I hear women report (especially those who haven’t been on the pill but need to take it as part of IVF treatment) how they feel ‘psycho’ on the pill, as if they could murder somebody or cry for no reason. This is what incorrect levels of hormones do! If they are doing that to our moods, think about what that is doing to our insides. The fact remains that the hormones in the pill aim to mimic hormones in your body however they are not identical to your natural hormones. This is also because a normal dose of the pill is four times the amount of oestrogen normally present in the body. Pills are a “one size fits all”, however if no two bodies are the same, it be comes easy to recognise why so many women experince negative side effects.
The most outstanding piece of information I have ever read about the pill is how it alters our attraction to the opposite sex. A recent study found that women on the pill see the world more platonically. They were shown images of naked women and men. Those on the pill reported a much more neutral view as opposed to those who didn’t take the pill who were easily able to imagine sexual scenes from viewing the pictures. It was also noted that those who were on the pill were far less charmed at seeing pictures of babies – hinting that the pill’s influence on reproductive interest. 3. And here is the best bit. Certain volatile fatty acids – named ’couplins’ (not kidding, that is truly the real name) are secreted in the vagina and stimulate male sexual interest and behaviour. Women on the pill do not secrete couplins. I’m sure there are dozens more of these little impacts the pill has on our bodies that we aren’t aware of – and again, this is the reason why many women feel so different when coming off the pill. 3. You can read the rest of this article here.
So, do men ever loose their libido? We’re not talking about a hormone crazed teen, I’m talking about the average, over worked, under paid man. And to answer that – yes they do, very often. Stress is a big libido crusher – it turns off all the switches and may leave a man feeling – well, deflated. What’s a man to do? Adding a quality multi vitamin and fish oil is most important to rebalance essential vitamins and nutrients that stress will indeed zap out, aiming for more home/play time as well as nutritionally getting in all the goods is a great start.
Alcohol is another fire fizzer. Drinking in excess of 4 glasses per week can harm your libido (and fertility!!) as alcohol plays havoc with male hormones and alters the way testosterone is produced and released in the body. Alcoholic beverages contain estrogen like compounds which are literally like ‘fake’ hormones that will set our real ones way off kilter. It isn’t any wonder that alcohol will mess up fertility. This can result in lower sperm count and poor motility – two vital elements necessary for conception. It has a similar effect on women, zapping their hormones and affecting their ovulation and menstruation also due to these same estrogen mimicking properties. So the wrong signals are being fired hormonally, which is bad news for the sex drive.
A post natal woman will most likely experience some loss in libido whilst she recovers from the birth of a child. Very often, a woman is so exhausted from sleep deprivation, breast feeding and general child birth recovery – it isn’t any wonder she doesn’t feel up to it. She needs some specific treatment to help her find her mojo once again. Chinese herbs are WONDERFUL for this – and again, it isn’t a simple solution of one size fits all but herbs that specifically target exactly what is going on. Seeing a practitioner that specialises in women’s health and fertility is vital – they will set you back on track in no time!
Having children can be challenging on the best of days – and so very often patients report a lower sex drive as the family grows simply because there isn’t the same opportunity there once was pre kids. I don’t really have a specific solution, but I can say I’m pregnant and I have a child – who by the way we co-sleep with. So there. It is possible! Locking the kids outside in winter probably isn’t the best plan of attack, but find what works for you in your household and go with it. There are ways around it, but you need to have it to want more of it – and the less you have, the less you want. Fire up the engines and keep them idling!
So my best recovery tips are:
- Get off the couch and between the sheets! Be more intimate more often – make time, even if you don’t think you have it, seriously how long does it really have to take? Probably not that long….
- Add a quality multi vitamin and a fish oil that are worth while taking – a therapeutic grade is essential (you know the drill by now surely!)
- Get the goods in – food is nutrients, it provides our body with energy. If your diet is poor, making changes will absolutely boost your energy and libido. Foods rich in zinc, green leafy veggies, oily fish and good proteins are what you want most of. Leave refined foods at the door.
- As summer approaches, you will feel more energised and active – take advantage of the time. With the extra vitamin D buzzing around your system, you might even want more! Everyday exercise is equally important, so take a brisk walk in the morning to get the blood pumping.
- If your taking medications – seek alternatives, even simply enquire – maybe there is an alternative that might be a great option and give you back your drive.
- Take a holiday, a break, a weekend off work – get yourself some down time – on the double! It’s amazing what some time off can do!
- If it really isn’t working – pop into your nearest natural practitioner to see if they have the goods for you – acupuncture, massage, herbal medicine – they all do wonderful things for libido and fertility.