While the desire to have sex and ability to attain arousal is tied into survival of the species, sexual activity is also a profound way for lovers to bond and experience great pleasure.
To want it, but to be unable to do it? That’s sad. If you enjoy making love, read on.
It was Sigmund Freud who brought the word “libido” into common use. He described libido as a desire for sex that was similar to the way hunger functions in nutrition. Most people today consider libido to be the same as sex drive or lust.
Unlike hunger, though, libido is non-existent in the young child and then goes through periods of ups and downs in the adult and tends to diminish as we age.
In men, lack of erection is a problem that prevents satisfying sexual activity, while lack of lubrication and blood flow in the vagina are common problems for women. There is natural support available for these problems.
Loss of Libido
While it is perhaps normal to slowly lose libido as we age, the loss of libido can be a big concern, especially for someone who is young and still wanting to be sexually active. There are many factors that can contribute to the loss of libido, including:
- Psychological: Stress, depression, fatigue can all play a role in libido. History of sexual abuse or other trauma can likewise influence libido. Sexual performance anxiety can also lead to a loss of libido.
- Physical: There are many hormonal issues that can affect libido, including low hormone levels including thyroid, testosterone, and estrogen.
- Medications: Many drugs affect libido, including common antidepressants, tranquilizers, pain medication, anti-anxiety and medications that control blood pressure. Contraceptives are emerging as a possible cause of low libido.
- Body: Poor body image, being severely overweight or underweight. Simple malnutrition can also alter libido. Lack of fat in the diet means low estrogen and testosterone production. Women’s menstrual cycle has a natural fluctuation that means sexual desire rises and falls throughout the month.
Hormones and Libido
How hormones affect libido deserves special attention because they can greatly impact one’s sexual desire.
The most poorly appreciated facet of sexual desire is how the hormones of stress impact sexual desire. New research is starting to show that that stress1 and anxiety2 both play a role in sexual function and libido.
The stress control system of the body, known as the hypothalamic-pituitary-HPA (HPA) axis, is a key to how the hormones of stress impact other hormones. Stress increases stress hormones (mainly cortisol) and it appears that high amounts of cortisol, in turn, disrupt sexual hormones.3
Under chronic stress, the HPA glands increase their output of cortisol—often referred to as the “stress hormone.” The principal hormones produced by the HPA glands—cortisol, dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), aldosterone, testosterone, estrogens, and progesterone—share a common precursor, the master hormone called pregnenolone. Under stress, your HPA glands are hyperstimulated and pregnenolone is diverted (stolen) from the pathways that produce the principal hormones. Instead, the pregnenolone is used to produce cortisol.
Further research is beginning to show that people with low-normal levels of hormones can still have problems (even though doctors would consider their hormone levels to be normal). A recent study showed that men with Partial Androgen (male hormones) Deficiency (PADAM) are at higher risk for low libido, erectile dysfunction, depression, anxiety, insomnia, poor concentration and problems with memory.4 The same may be true in women.
What to do about a Lowered Libido
Complementary Approach to Loss of Libido and Impotence
- HPA Hormone Balancing: When the HPA glands are performing at their best, the negative effects of allergic conditions are drastically reduced. With saliva based lab tests that measure cortisol and DHEA patterns, natural therapies for hormone balance can be developed.
- Functional Lab Testing: With functional lab tests called “HPA stress profiles”, the key steroidal hormones are measured for their quantities and rhythms. Based on this data, treatments such as bioidentical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT) can be administered to renew the vitality of the hormone system. As with any health condition or prevention plan, one should devote resources towards doing as much lab testing as possible to identify dysfunction. Get tested – find a doctor.
- Exercise: Getting exercise is actually a great way to increase libido.
- Stress Reduction: Try meditation, yoga, relaxation, biofeedback, or other stress-reduction techniques. Reducing stress hormones should improve not only your sexual desire, but also your entire health. See our store for some relaxation tools.
- Herbs: Certain herbs have been used to improve sexual desire, including Yohimbe 5, ginseng 6, Tribulus terrestris and Avena sativa for raising testosterone naturally, L-arginine, and more. See the COREONE Select products for libido.