One of the most common complaints we hear from the women we talk to is a sex drive that’s packed up and left.
While there are a whole range of physical and emotional reasons why this can be the case, such as security, lack of connection, trauma and so on, our hormones are a very real piece of the libido-puzzle.
Your experience of libido is obviously going to be different whether you’re in a long term relationship, an exciting honeymoon phase or flying solo, however, many experts agree that a healthy sex drive is an important indicator of overall health and vitality.
If you’d much rather Netflix than chill and are wondering what the heck your hormones might have to do with it, here are 5 reasons why this might be the case.
1. YOU'RE STRESSED AF
Perhaps the most obvious, but stress and exhaustion don’t exactly set the mood for a good time, do they?
In this fast-paced-modern life we’re living, many of us are giving our libido-zapping stress response a workout on a far-too-regular basis. When this happens, our bodies become much more concerned with pumping out stress hormones in the name of survival, than sex hormones to support reproduction.
This is not a bad thing - our bodies are smart! If your life really was in danger (as ‘fight or flight’ mode was intended for back in the day) sexy thoughts probably wouldn’t be much help.
However, if you’re serious about healthy hormones and a good sex life, it’s important to find ways to tap into rest and restore mode more often.
2. LOWER OESTROGEN LEVELS
Oestrogen is the primary female sex hormone that supports healthy mood, sleep, skin, bone health, insulin sensitivity, metabolism and yes: libido.
In the right amounts, oestrogen helps us feel confident, outgoing and sexy, gives us our beautiful feminine curves and makes our skin glow.
With lower than optimal levels of oestrogen in the body, you might feel less inclined to get it on and find that things are a little dry down below. Other signs of low oestrogen can include absent, irregular or very light periods, night sweats and dry skin.
3. YOUR TESTOSTERONE ISN'T COMING TO THE PARTY
Testosterone isn’t just for men, it’s actually an important sex hormone for women too, just in much smaller amounts.
In both genders, testosterone supports muscle growth, bone health, energy production, general motivation and drive, and is closely linked to sex drive.
In people with periods, testosterone surges around ovulation, making this the time of your cycle you are most likely to want to get frisky (also the time you are the most fertile, just FYI).
4. YOUR BIRTH CONTROL IS KILLING THE MOOD
It seems kind of ironic when you go on the pill to have safe sex, but a decrease in sex drive is a very real possible side effect of hormonal contraception and is more common than you might think.
The pill increases levels of SHBG or Sex Hormone-Binding Globulin - a protein made by the liver that sucks up your libido-boosting testosterone, which is also why it can help with signs of higher testosterone such as acne.
Just to get crystal clear here, we’re definitely not advising anyone to stop taking medication prescribed by their doctor. Knowledge is power, and it's important to make informed choices around contraception and look out for, and chat to your doctor about any not so fun side effects.
5. IT'S JUST A PHASE (OF YOUR CYCLE)
We are cyclical beings, and as our sex drive is so closely linked to our hormones, it makes sense that it’s going to ebb and flow throughout the month in line with our cycle.
As a general rule, ovulation is the time of the month where we are going to be most interested in sex, and the later luteal phase (time just before your period begins) is where we’re going to be the least interested.
The menstrual phase is also an interesting one, while some women won’t be able to think of anything worse, for others the increased blood flow to the pelvic region can really get things going (in a good way).
To cover all the bases here, the follicular phase (between the end of your period and ovulation) is often somewhere in the middle. It’s generally a pretty sweet time, however, relatively lower hormones at this time of the month can mean you might need a little more help in the lubrication department.
TRIED & TESTED WAYS TO GIVE YOUR LIBIDO A HELPING HAND
MANAGE YOUR STRESS
If you frequent our blogs, we probably sound like a broken record with this tip, but it’s just that important for hormone health.
When your body is living in a state of stress, your sex hormone production is always going to be compromised in one way or another.
Make sure you’re getting enough sleep, have enough magnesium on board to support your nervous system, and reduce common stressors where you can such as high-intensity exercise, caffeine and alcohol.
EAT MORE HEALTHY FATS
Fats make up the building blocks of our hormones, meaning low-fat diets can result in the body making lower levels of key sex hormones, oestrogen, progesterone and testosterone.
Some of our favourite sources of healthy fats are avocado, salmon, nuts, seeds, olive oil & coconut yoghurt. An added bonus of eating fats is that they also support stable blood sugar levels - another key to beautifully balanced hormones.
TRY ADAPTOGENIC HERBS
Certain adaptogenic herbs have libido-boosting powers as well. Two of the most well-studied in this department are maca root powder and ashwagandha.
Maca comes from a Peruvian root that was traditionally eaten to improve many areas of health including stamina, power, and—you guessed it— libido. Ashwagandha on the other hand is basically the MVP of ayurvedic adaptogens. It improves blood flow, reduces tension, and helps the body adapt to stress - hence the name ‘adapt-ogen’.
HAVE MORE SEX
A key difference between male and female physiology in the bedroom is that often for women, physical arousal comes first, and psychological desire comes second; whereas for men, it’s likely the other way around.
Basically, all this means is don’t be so quick to brush off your partner’s advances. You might not feel like it at first, but in the blissful moments that come afterwards, you’ll probably be SO glad you did - kind of like working out huh?
Plus, orgasms (and the wonderful release of oxytocin, dopamine, and serotonin that goes with them) help to balance hormones, reduce stress and increase sex-drive boosting oestrogen. Try it and thank us later!
ABOVE ALL ELSE: DON’T PUT TOO MUCH PRESSURE ON YOURSELF!
We’ve talked to women who are juggling careers, households, children, and hitting the gym every day, then wonder why they simply can’t muster up the energy to get hot and heavy come bedtime.
Take it from us, you are not broken, you are human, (and are probably in need of holiday).