In my practice, I see many women suffer libido-crashing mood disorders and other problems that interfere with their personal lives.
While easy to discount low sex drive as just a part of getting older, lately even younger women mention struggling with not being “in the mood.”
I often connect the dots between how lifestyle factors including drinking and smoking, exposure to environmental toxins, and being chronically stressed contribute to and exacerbate sex hormone imbalances.
One recent patient had gone through menopause. She was eating tons of sugar, was overweight, and had no sex drive.
I put her on a low-sugar, whole-foods diet plan with plenty of healthy fats. I also gave her vaginal estrogen and testosterone. Only when we addressed lifestyle habits could we reset her hormones, energy levels, and libido.
While lifestyle matters, the huge culprit that knocks sex hormones out of balance is sugar in its many forms, including flour that converts to sugar.
Sugar raises insulin and creates a hormonal domino effect. Subsequently, high insulin adversely impacts other hormones. Simply put, excessive sugar can wreck our sex life.
Sugar also lowers testosterone in men and alters testosterone metabolism in women. Women, testosterone isn’t just a guy’s hormone. Out-of-balance levels can reduce desire, increase body fat, lower muscle mass, and create fuzzy memory. Furthermore, sugar increases stress and decreases energy.
Fortunately, there’s a lot we can do to restore sex drive. I’ve found these five strategies help patients balance hormones naturally to feel energized and optimize libido.
- Support hormones with natural supplements. Quality supplements like maca help boost our libido. Others like fish oil lower inflammation and support healthy hormones. A really good multi-vitamin/mineral, magnesium, iron, and zinc help decrease stress and balance energy.
- Heal the gut. A diet high in processed foods as well as antibiotics and other medications can wreak havoc on the gut, making it difficult to produce our feel-good neurotransmitter serotonin. To minimize bad bugs, eat a clean diet rich in whole foods. Avoid antibiotics and supplement with a quality probiotic to promote digestion and reduce inflammation. I recommend possibly working with a functional medicine doctor to effectively test for and treat gut imbalances.
- Stick to real food. A whole-foods diet becomes anti-inflammatory to help our body produce healthy hormone levels. Phytonutrient-rich foods include leafy greens like spinach, collards, kale, cruciferous vegetables, and healthy fats like grass-fed meats, wild-caught fatty fish, and nuts and seeds. Bone broth and high-fiber foods like berries and lentils also provide libido-supporting nutrients.
- Make these key lifestyle changes. Stress management becomes crucial to optimize libido. Unwind and utilize appropriate relaxation techniques like meditation, deep breathing, yoga, and massages. Sleep is also crucial. Aim for seven or eight hours of quality, uninterrupted, deep sleep every night. Practice sleep hygiene, including avoiding electronic devices before bed and keeping the bedroom only for sleep and sex. Experiencing pleasure and joy outside the bedroom makes experiencing joy in the bedroom easier.
- Move better. Exercise and movement are important but often underutilized ways to optimize libido. Increase pleasure throughout the day with aromatherapy, creative expression, dance, and music therapy. These are great ways to increase our happy vibes.
If we still struggle with libido, please work with a functional medicine doctor to pinpoint toxicity and other underlying causes. Age and other factors should never limit our ability to feel sexy and vital.
If you’ve struggled with low sex drive, what dietary or lifestyle modifications did you find work best? Share yours below or on my Facebook page.
Author: Dr. Mark Hyman
Image: Michelle B./Flickr
Editor: Emily Bartran