Are you leading a busy life that often leaves you and your partner too tired to enjoy intimacy? Or is it just you and your partner is getting frustrated with the fact that you never seem to be in mood let alone take initiative? Has it always been like this or were things different when you were younger or before you had the kids?
Do you long for getting your sexual desire back?
You probably know that you are not alone (a 2012 study by the British Women’s Health Information Services revealed that 43% of women experience loss of sexual desire at some point in their lives ) but that does not make it any easier for you or your relationship. I want you to know that losing your libido is not something that just comes with getting older. This is good news because it means that we can do something about it.
Losing your libido is more of a new age problem and it is triggered by mental and physical factors. If you think about stressors in our lives to day, they far exceed what our ancestors experienced.
* We combine jobs with raising children often far away from family which means no grant parent support
* We work longer hours that past generations, switching on the computer for work again after the kids have gone to bed is not an exception
* We commute further for our jobs and spent more time in traffic
* We have more commitments and responsibilities
* We eat more processed food and exercise less
* Weare exposed to thousands of toxins every day that have a silent impact on our hormones
* We are connected to our devices pretty much every waking minute and get exposed to screen lights even before bedtime
* and the list doesn’t stop here
All of these things have an impact on our energy, health and sex life.
For women there seems to be more complexity to what drives a healthy sexual desire than for men. Where for men a well functioning hormonal system is likely to be enough, women also need to be in the “right” mental and emotional state to let bodily desire flow. Of course our hormonal system also plays a critical role, so if our hormones are off, sexual desire is also off.
The most important hormone for our sexual desire is testosterone (just like for men). In women, testosterone needs to work together with estrogen, progesterone and oxytocin (our ‘love’ hormone) to power our libido.
Beyond living busy lives that may simply leave us tired in the evenings, there is something crucial happening at hormonal level when we are exposed to stress. This can be any kind of stress, from the more obvious emotional stress at work or in a relationship, the worry about a sick parent or child to physical stress by overexercising to hidden stress caused by food intolerances, toxins, endocrine disruptors and even parasites. When we experience chronic stress, our body’s need for cortisol increases. Cortisol allows us to handle short peaks of stress and when the stressful situation has passed (the saber tooth tiger has given up chasing us and we can come down from the tree) cortisol levels go down again. With our modern lives we often run around with the “tiger attached to our backs” and the need for cortisol stays high or even increases. The thing is that cortisol is made from the same precursor hormone as our sex hormones, it’s called pregnenolone. In times of chronic stress, the need for higher cortisol causes what is known as the pregnenolon steal. What this means is that part of the pregnenolone that is meant for production of sex hormones now flows into the pathway to create cortisol. As a result your testosterone and estrogen levels drop which in turn puts a serious damper on your sex drive.
Think about it, when our ancestors were in danger of being eaten by a bear, sexual reproduction was not advantageous and our body is clever enough to shut down the desire in order to stay alive.
Don’t despair because a low libido is not without hope!
At the same time, a high cortisol output also suppresses our love hormone ocytocin, double whammy for you libido. Understanding that stress is sabotaging our natural desire to make love in two ways also gives us two angles to get back into the groove in the bedroom. Here are some things you can do:
Hug, laugh and play more!
All of these things boost your oxytocin levels. Another way to increase your oxytocin is to express gratitude, start a regular gratitude journal and see what happens.
Take time to meditate, breathe deeply or get upside down
Even a few minutes of meditation or deep breathing exercises can lower your cortisol levels. Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) is also a great portable, self-help tool that has been proven to lower cortisol. Getting into “upside down” positions (e.g. lying on the floor with your legs up the wall), forward bends or other inverse yoga positions can also be of great benefit.
Eat healthily, get enough sleep and don’t over exercise
An anti-inflammatory diet (you may want to investigate for food intolerances) and enough sleep can be another piece to the puzzle. Go to sleep before 10 pm on most nights of the week and sleep at least 7 to 8 hours. Avoid screen time in the hour before bed, you may want to dim the lights in your house too. Over exercising can also be a stressor to our body, so you may want to take it down a notch.
To get a better understanding of your cortisol rhythm you may want to have it tested. Since cortisol levels change in the course of the day, with it being at it’s peak in the morning and then coming down with it’s lowest level in the evening, it’s important to test for cortisol at 4 or even 5 different times of the day. This can be done via a saliva or a urine test. A blood test only shows you one snap shot in time which doesn’t provide sufficient information. The test will typically also include at least DHEA levels. DHEA is the precursor hormone for our sex hormones. Of course you can also have your sex hormones tested at the same time.