It’s late. And you have a headache. But what’s really behind that lack of sexual interest you’ve been feeling for a while? When the relationship itself is in a good place, and you’re there in theory… just not in body, you may be wondering about your hormone balance. Dr. Julia Segal, ND goes there, and beyond, in this post on restoring women’s libido.
So, does libido come down to hormone levels?
Well, yes and no.
Yes – because our levels of estrogen and progesterone directly feed into the sex drive. So does our level of testosterone, which is important even in women. We want all these hormones at optimal levels which means not too low but not too high either, for both optimal health and libido.
However, these sex hormones are not the ONLY factors affecting libido, and they themselves are influenced by other hormones and processes in the body. During and after menopause, it may be helpful to directly address sex hormones naturally, in addition to looking at the foundations of health underlying them. But if you’re well before that period of life and yet it feels like you’ve lost your mojo, it’s time to do some naturopathic detective work to search for the underlying cause.
Getting your stress hormones tested in addition to your sex hormones is an important part of our Toronto Naturopaths approach to restoring libido. Cortisol and DHEA reflect the body’s response to stress long term, and can help guide your naturopath’s treatment recommendations. Where needed, more in-depth urinary hormone testing is performed. Testing and identifying inflammation in the body is important as well, as this is a major factor in the stress-sex hormone equation. When it comes to treatment, nutrition, supplementation and herbal medicine are all important aspects of re-establishing a balanced stress response and sex hormones, and must be matched to each individual’s body and history.
Of course, we also need to address the lifestyle and mind-body factors that feed into imbalanced stress and sex hormones. Stress – both the experience of stress and the stress hormones that result from it – directly affects libido. Spending more time in a state of fight/flight or freeze shuts down the branch of our nervous system that nourishes the reproductive organs and hormones. Adrenaline, the short-term stress hormone, shoots up the moment we are stressed. Not many people realize that adrenaline is an anti-sex hormone – immediately sending blood to the muscles we need to run away from a threat, while also contributing to sweaty palms, dilated pupils, fluttery stomachs and sometimes, anxiety or insomnia. Studies have shown that people feel an enhanced libido while on vacation. Mastering our stress is simply key to restoring libido.
When we define stress as the difference between the demand on us and our capacity, we can regain some control over our state of being in a few ways. One is to decrease the demand. If it’s all just too much, try simplifying something such as by using a meal delivery service for a week or two, paying for a thorough cleaning of your home, or taking some much needed time off work. The other (and more affordable) approach to mastering stress is increasing your capacity. Whether alone or together with your partner, spend time in meditation or guided relaxation using audio support. Do your favourite form of exercise. Spend some time in nature or doing what you love. Work through the thoughts and core beliefs that cause your adrenaline to spike.
Asking for help from your family, friends, and partner, is an important part of this journey. If you find that no matter how much connection and time you create, libido isn’t accessible to you at a physical level, trust that sense and reach out for naturopathic assessment. The answer probably lies somewhere in your body, your story, or your blood tests.