5 Things That Impact Your Libido
- Written By:Lauren Slayton
Libido. It’s such a funny sounding word, maybe we would be more open to talking about it if it was called something else? Libido refers to someone’s sex drive. Like hormones, many things affect libido — stress, sleep, and body weight (fat cells are estrogenic) can all have an impact. And like body weight, most people seem to have somewhat of a set point when it comes to their desire for sex. The goal in boosting libido is not to turn someone who rarely thinks about sex into someone sex-crazed, but rather to optimize your, personal libido level.
Healthy habits encourage a healthy sex life. Exercise, sleep and stress management are baseline behaviors that improve all aspects of our health. It’s always telling when a client talks about losing their libido or a vast shift from how they used to be. It’s a complicated topic, but here are some places to start if you’re looking for a libido lift. Show yourself some love.
Zinc boosts sex drive in both men and women. And zinc is one of the reasons oysters have an aphrodisiac reputation. I don’t know about you but I don’t eat oysters on a daily basis. When it comes to affecting hormonal health, you need to look at what you do daily. Try hemp seeds for zinc (sorry no THC, though that can affect sex drive too). Hemp seeds have a mild taste and can be added to smoothies, salads, yogurt or just about anything. Most seeds are good sources of zinc. Sesame and pumpkin seeds are other options.
Every medication has side effects and hormonal birth control is hardly exempt. If you’re on the pill, patch or ring, these medications can decrease your libido, in a few ways. First, many women have an increased libido mid-cycle, due to a testosterone surge. This doesn’t happen when you’re on the pill, as hormone levels stable, throughout the month. Plus, estrogen in birth control increases something called SHBG, which binds testosterone. Testosterone is not just a guy thing, it’s important for women too. Statins, SSRIs and many other medications also have sexual side effects. Look into what you’re taking to see if it might be having an impact on your sex drive.
Forget dental concerns and weight gain (well, don’t forget them completely), but if people really keyed into what sugar did to their sex drive, they’d radically change their habits. Without getting too science-heavy, insulin decreases the production of growth hormone, which is crucial for libido. Sugar intake also decreases testosterone, and this affects both men and women. You might want to think twice about indulging in those sweets.
Adaptogens may seem buzzy lately but they’ve been used for centuries. Adaptogens help your body adapt to stress. There are a ton of herbs in this category, two of my favorites are rhodiola and ashwagandha. And others like maca, ho shou wu, ginseng that can boost libido.
Magnesium happens to be my favorite mineral. It’s important for heart health, sleep, metabolism and PMS. Stress depletes magnesium, which is one reason most of us run low. Low magnesium is connected to a low sex drive. Magnesium can also help decrease anxiety and optimize testosterone. And as a bonus, if you’re someone who tends to get up and urinate at night, magnesium can help here too. While I love that good, dark chocolate and cacao are good sources of magnesium, I feel it’s an important one to supplement. Our Foodtrainers’ clients like these Chill Pills, the first item we made private label, for a reason.
Lauren Slayton, MS RD is the founder of Foodtrainers and the author of the book The Little Book of Thin (Perigee 2014).