Sex Life Suffering? They say the best things in life are free, but does your libido agree?Research reveals that 15% of men and around 32% of women experience a low sex drive. Having a stable libido is not only vital for maintaining healthy & consensual, sexual relationships, but for keeping your mental and physical wellbeing in check. When a person’s libido is high, they tend to seek out or desire more sexual intimacy and/or are more inclined to masturbate on a regular basis. This is completely normal and healthy, however if sex drive is too high it can interfere with & affect relationships and often work. Likewise, when libido is low or dips & interest in sex is minimised or even diminished, this also affects intimate relationships and quality of life. A low libido is more common than an overly high libido but what may be considered normal for some will be very different for others. The neural pathways which are involved in sex drive are not too dissimilar in men and women. Libido creates physical responses in both due to blood flow. Women’s sex drive is however slightly different as it’s often more sensitive and responds to/is dependent on environment and context, whereas studies show that men’s desire seems to be more straightforward.
What are the causes of low libido?An individual’s libido is motivated by a few things, including brain function & hormone regulation, therefore, it is subject to fluctuations. Stress, diet, exercise, sleep and mental state (to name a few) can have huge affects on one’s sex drive. Certain medications may also adjust appetite for sex. Neuro-chemicals such as dopamine and the hormone serotonin also have an affect on one’s desire for sexual activity. When levels are low, libido tends to drop. Hormonal shifts are however the more common cause of low sex drive. Decreases in eostrogen, testosterone, and progesterone are generally the prime suspects. High stress levels impact hormone regulation and influence someone’s ‘fight or flight’ response. During stressful situations, fight or flight mode is activated, where breath, heart rate and blood pressure increase dramatically. During these periods, cortisol and epinephrine (hormones which decrease sex drive) are released. This is why stress has such a monumental impact on a human’s sexual desire. Some other causes of low libido include high blood pressure, alcohol consumption, diabetes, drug use, smoking, fatigue and low self-esteem/body issues.
Life is full of highs and lows…but to extend those highs, we’ve come up with a few tips to maintain a clear head and an active bed. (There are no hard or fast rules.)
1. ExerciseExercise is known to actively improve performance, in the boardroom, and the bedroom. Exercise increases sex drive due to the endorphins which are released that regulate mood. Physical activity will also improve body image and self-esteem, both of which are vital in maintaining a healthy desire for sexual activity. Movement also improves one’s cardiovascular health and endocrine system, whilst increasing the sympathetic nervous system activity.
2. Stress ManagementManaging stress is not the easiest task in a society where we are bombarded with constant work related tasks and concern for the future. However, there are some activities that you can introduce into your day which will help to minimise the side effects of stress & calm your mind. Meditation is a fantastic way to wind down, detach from physical and emotional stress and be present, whilst also improving blood flow. Practice small meditations upon waking and before bed to help get your sex ‘drive’ up…
3. DietDiet has a huge influence on libido and fertility. Food has been long used to increase sexual desire, however certain foods can most certainly deplete it. Good nutrition is vital for all aspects of a healthy love life, and good gut health can be as important in more ways than one. Bloating and discomfort can affect physical confidence and may be solved by making dietary changes. Resetting the microbiome to be in balance through removing harmful foods and increasing supportive fibre can make you feel better in yourself. Getting enough of the Vitamins and Minerals needed for proper blood flow, energy and healthy reproductive organs is vital and this can be done by being selective with what you do and don’t eat. There are certain foods that are known as aphrodisiacs like chocolate and mushrooms, this is due to their nutrition content and the major role these nutrients play in sexual health. Diets high in sugar and carbohydrates encourage fat storage. This can lessen sex drive as the endocrine system starts producing an oestrogen from fat storage, which in turn produces sex hormone-binding globulin (globular proteins) that lessen a group of hormones called ‘androgens’ that drive libido. So what foods can you implement into your diet which will get you hot under the collar? Foods rich in iron, magnesium, omega-3s, and zinc are proven to elevate your libido. Any foods which boost mood and trigger the release of tryptophan, serotonin or dopamine are also brilliant for maximising your drive.
Here are some foods to include in your meals:
- Dark Chocolate
4. SleepA good night's sleep is key in driving libido and combating sexual dysfunction. Lack of sleep means that the body has limited time to recover and regulate hormone production - essential in maintaining a healthy libido. Sleep can also have a direct impact on the release of testosterone in men. In order to combat the impact of sleepiness on libido, practice sleep routines to keep your internal body clock in check.
5. Limit alcohol useIt may come as no surprise that alcohol can have a negative impact on your sex drive. While the occasional glass of red wine may feel as though it is having a positive effect on your libido, alcohol is a depressant, so the temporary boost will not do your private parts any favours in the long run. Alcohol can also have negative implications to blood flow and organ function.
6. Get some sunI’m not pulling your leg - sunlight increases the production of feel good chemical ‘serotonin’. Serotonin plays a vital role in a healthy sex drive and decreases the chance of negative mental states such as anxiety and depression. Sunlight also lessens the production of melatonin (sleep hormone), and although sleep plays a key role in libido, too much melatonin can lessen the potential for sexual desire. Soaking up the rays can wake up your drive, especially during the winter when your body produces more of the hormone.
7. Less PornJust to be clear, porn is nothing to be ashamed of, however studies reveal that excessive porn consumption can change the way that the brain reacts to arousal. Due to the vast amount of pornographic content online, your dopamine receptors can become less active if watched immoderately, meaning that you are in need of more stimulus to activate your sex drive. Porn can also create an isolating pattern of behaviour. Get creative & use your imagination if alone, or try to connect properly with your intimate partner/s. In conclusion, a robust sex drive can lower stress levels, contribute to healthy intimacy, diminish anxiety, boost confidence and even improve sleep! Implementing some of these tips into your daily routine will not only keep your blood flowing & heart beating, but contribute to an all round sense of physical and mental wellbeing.
As always, we wish you the best, and hope that this information will bring you a little closer to an improved, healthier and happier version of yourself.
POW team x