Spring has sprung, but unfortunately for some of us it takes a little more than some warm weather to get in the mood. In fact, a recent study suggests that Millennials are having way less sex than previous generations. Yep that's right, your parents were getting more action than you when they were your age! So what gives? Why are we having less sex in America?How can we start getting our mojo back? Sex drive is influenced by both psychological and physical factors, and unfortunately Americans are not exactly thriving in either of those area. Not to worry! Keep reading to find out some simple science-backed strategies you can do to boost your sex drive and take care of your health.
1) Balance your Hormones
Hormones play a critical role in maintaining a healthy sex drive and should be the first place you investigate if your libido drops. There are a ton of factors that contribute to hormone imbalances including stress, insulin resistance, calorie/weight imbalances, poor diet, frequent exposure to hormones in the food supply, and exposure to estrogen-like toxins from pesticides, plastics, and pollution. Once you identify and treat the root cause of hormone imbalances, your libido should return naturally. This process can take some time, but a great place to start is by focusing on balancing your blood sugar and managing stress better.
Balance your blood sugar - Insulin resistance (the condition that contributes to pre-diabetes and type 2 diabetes) causes sex hormone imbalances in both men and women. In men, insulin resistance decreases testosterone and increases estrogen, both of which can cause your libido to drop. In women, insulin resistance can increase testosterone and lead to PCOS, a condition that causes infertility, hair loss on the head, facial hair growth, weight gain, and depression. Insulin resistance in women also causes an increase in estrogen, which decreases libido and can cause mood and sleep disturbances, weight gain, and fluid retention.
So, if you noticed a drop in your libido it's a great a idea to get some bloodwork to see if you are insulin resistant. FYI - The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimates that at least 86 million U.S. adults are pre-diabetic/insulin-resistant! You can start balancing your blood sugar by eating a healthy diet, having high quality protein and/or healthy fat with every meal, avoid skipping meals, limit your sugar and refined carbohydrate intake, start exercising, and learn to manage your stress better.
Learn to manage stress better - Stress impacts libido in several ways. High amounts of stress hormones cause a direct decrease in sex hormones, including testosterone - the libido boosting hormone. Stress also triggers fear and anxiety, both of which make it pretty hard to get in the mood.
If your sex drive has plummeted after a stressful event or because of chronic stress, this is your body's way of telling you to slow down. Having healthy coping mechanisms for stress is essential for every aspect of well-being and can make a huge difference in your health and happiness. There are a ton of effective stress management techniques out there - meditation, psychotherapy, health coaching, breathing exercises, yoga, any physical activity, guided relaxation techniques, mindfulness practice, talking to a loved one, practicing gratitude...the list goes on and on! Have an open mind, try one new technique every week and stick with whatever works for you.
2) Achieve a Healthy Weight
Fat tissue doesn't just store extra calories, it also makes a ton of biologically active chemical compounds that influence your metabolism and hormones. Because fat tissue produces estrogen, excess weight gain can lead to to higher than normal estrogen levels. In menstruating women, excess estrogen can impair ovulation and contribute PCOS, both of which can decrease your libido.Excess fat tissue also produces chemical compounds called cytokines, inflammatory compounds that contribute to insulin resistance and chronic disease. Inflammation decreases the estrogen detoxification system in the body and increases estrogen receptor binding, which results in higher than normal estrogen levels. Having too much fat tissue can also impact your sex drive by causing insulin resistance, which we now know has big impact on your libido and sex drive.
Ok I know that losing weight is not exactly the easiest thing to do, but it is one of the most effective ways to balance your hormones and boost your libido. Many experts say that even just a 10 pound weight loss can free up bound testosterone and increase your sex drive!
For women, ovulating regularly and naturally (not from hormonal birth control) is essential in balancing your sex hormones. Ovulation is the only way to make estradiol and progesterone, two key hormones for a healthy libido. Women who are underweight and/or overexercise often stop menstruating because the body shuts down ovulation to conserve calories. If you have stopped ovulating after losing weight or increasing your exercise regimen, you have pushed your body too far and will need to adjust your plan so ovulation returns.
Regardless of your size, one of the biggest contributors to decreased sex drive is having a poor body image. Loving your body at any size increases confidence and allows you to experience sexual moments more intensely and without distractions.
3. Get More Zinc
Zinc has several benefits for balancing your hormones, including stimulating ovulation, blocking excess testosterone in women with PCOS, raising testosterone to normal levels in men and women with low testosterone, supporting thyroid hormone synthesis and activation, and reducing inflammation.
The recommended dietary allowances (RDA) for zinc are as follows (note that you may need more zinc if you have medical conditions, such as PCOS)
- Adult Women: 8 mg/day
- Adult Men: 11 mg/day
- Adult Pregnant women: 11 mg/day
- Adult Breast-feeding women: 12 mg/day
Note that vegans and vegetarians may require as much as 50% more zinc because plant based foods that contain zinc also have high levels of phytic acid, which reduce zinc absorption. No one food has a particularly high concentration of zinc (except oysters and red meat), so it is important to consume a variety of foods that contain zinc everyday. Here are some food sources of zinc:
If you suspect zinc deficiency may be contributing to your low libido, contact me to find out the right zinc supplement for you.
It turns out that exercise isn't just good for overall health and longevity, it's also great for boosting your sex drive! Current research suggests that exercise may boost your desire for sex, increase your sexual activity, and improve sexual satisfaction.
Exercise improves physical endurance, muscle tone, and blood circulation to all major tissues, including the genitals. All of these benefits are important for sexual desire and performance. In fact, one study (Stanten and Yeager, 2003) found that just 20 minutes of vigorous exercise increased sexual responsiveness in women, another study found that short and intense exercise actually increased testosterone levels in men (Krucoff and Krucoff, 2000). Some experts even suggest that burning as little as 200 calories per day can significantly lower the risk of erectile dysfunction in men.
All forms of physical activity improve your self confidence, elevate your mood, increase your stamina and boost your energy, all of which contribute to enhanced sex drive.
Final Thoughts for Natural Ways to Boost Your Sex Drive
- Get tested for insulin resistance and work on balancing your blood sugar.
- Experiment with healthy stress management techniques and stick with what works.
- If you are overweight, start with losing just 10 lbs.
- If you are an underweight female, gain enough weight so that you are ovulating regularly.
- Regardless of your size, reflect on the parts of your body that you love on a daily basis.
- Aim for 11 mg of zinc per day from food sources from the list above. If you need a high quality. zinc supplement recommendation contact me.
- Exercise at least 20 minutes a day - vigorous exercise is ideal.
- Work with a qualified health expert if you need help balancing your hormones.