The libido – we all have one, but what do we do when our libido isn’t cooperating? At some point, we’re likely to face the challenge of a low libido. Men and women: nobody is immune. And unfortunately, this can affect the overall happiness of life. Of those who suffer from a low libido, only 23% of men and 46% of women say they still feel a general happiness in their life37. As we move through our lives, we may encounter many challenges that cause our libido to dwindle. Everything from biological and physical reasons (e.g. age, medical conditions, and hormone imbalances) to psychological and social reasons (e.g. depression, stress, and relationship conflicts) can play havoc on our sex drive.
Up to 33% of women and 15% of men suffer from low sex drive
With as many as 33% of women and 15% of men suffering from a low sex drive every year,5, 38 you’re not alone in the struggle. But, hoping the lack of sexual desire goes away all on its own or getting into arguments about it with your partner is not going to get your mojo back. Thankfully, there are options that can have a positive effect in boosting libidos naturally.
Table of Contents
- What is the libido?
- Reasons Behind a low sex drive for both men & women
- How to boost your libido naturally.
- 8 Foods that Increase Both Your Sex Drive & Libido Naturally
- Foods That Are Lowering Your Sex Drive
- Libido Supplements that Increase Your Sex Drive
- Simple tips to improve & ignite the love
When we first think of our libido, we think of our feelings of sexual desire, or maybe we think of our lack of sexual desire. This is exactly what the libido is all about. Officially, the libido (a person’s sex drive) is referred to someone’s overall desire for sexual activity. As we move through our days, weeks, months, and years, our sexual drive is influenced by three factors1:
These factors either affect our sex drive on a mental level or on a physical level. The good news is that by becoming aware of the negative factors that are diminishing our desire for sex, we can become one step closer to getting that lovin’ feeling back!
We encounter a wide range of reasons that could be the culprit of our low sex drive.
First, there are the reasons that are beyond our control, like our age (we can try to fight against getting older, but our biology knows the truth!).
If you have children, especially young children, there’s no doubt that finding time to spend privately with your partner is going to be difficult. And even if you do find the time, it’s not uncommon that you’re dead on your feet from exhaustion. Having no energy is definitely a mood killer! Medical conditions you may be dealing with could also be a driving factor. Depending on the condition, you might have physical symptoms, like fatigue, headaches, or other internal discomforts, which certainly can affect your libido.
If you’re taking prescription medications, often times a side effect is a lowered sex drive. Though all of these reasons are out of our control, there are reasons within our grasp that can be controlled like food, exercise, and our mental well-being.
Biological and Physical Reasons Include:
1) Hormone Imbalances
Low testosterone and estrogen levels, in both males and females, can lower the sex drive. The editor and chief of The Journal of Sexual Medicine, Dr. Irwin Goldstein describes testosterone as the “hormone of desire.”41 Although when we think of testosterone, we associate it as the “man” hormone, and when we think of estrogen, we associate it as the “woman” hormone, both men and women have testosterone and estrogen, though in differing levels.
When testosterone levels decrease in either gender, the sex drive is commonly affected. Estrogen, on the other hand, is different for men and women.
Men: If estrogen levels are high in men, they could experience sexual dysfunction including, a low libido, decreased morning erections, and decreased erectile function.44
Women: If estrogen levels are low in women, they could experience sexual dysfunction including, a low libido and vaginal dryness.37 Maintaining the balance of testosterone and estrogen in our systems is vital to our healthy libido.
How to increase libido quickly? Checkout this Testosterone Support Supplement
2) Inadequate Physical Exercise
Lack of exercise can cause mental and physical feelings of fatigue and a poor self-image, which leads to a lower sex drive. How often do you lay around on your comfy couch spending an entire weekend binging on TV? And when you pry yourself up, after not showering for two days and having just consumed an insane amount of calories, do you feel like having a sexual romp with your partner?
Too much exercise can stifle a sex drive and also cause mental and physical feelings of fatigue, thus decreasing the sex drive.2 It’s not helpful to your libido if you’re giving all your energy to the treadmill and weights and then have none left for your partner.
3) Overuse of Drugs and Alcohol
Alcohol or recreational drug use weakens the nervous system leading to excessive fatigue, lower testosterone and estrogen levels, and desensitizes genitalia.3 Desensitizes the genitalia – need any more be said? For many, that’s the ultimate libido killer.
Psychological and Social Reasons Include:
When depressed, there is an inability to anticipate pleasure, including sexual pleasure. Many people experience depression, which leads to a sense of worthlessness or a loss of interest in just about everything, and the libido can be one of the first things affected.
We don’t naturally adapt well to stress, it may negatively affect physical functions, especially regarding sexual desire and performance. When stress hits us, we either internalize or externalize the feeling. Symptoms of stress show up as fatigue, insomnia, low energy, digestive problems, aches and pain, and muscle tension.43 With all of our focus on whatever it is that is stressing us out and all the physical symptoms we incur, is it any surprise that our libido takes a back seat?
3) Relationship Issues
Are you fighting with your partner about whose job it is to take out the trash or pick up the kids? Are you feeling unappreciated or controlled by your partner? Are you dealing with employment or financial issues with your partner? If so, your sex drive is probably close to non-existent. If there is tension or conflict in your relationship, the need for physical or emotional intimacy is going to be hindered.
4/5 - Men Have Low Testosterone
Men – What Causes Their Low Sex Drive?
According to WebMD, 4 out of 5 men over the age of 45 have low testosterone.4 Testosterone is the male sex hormone that regulates several processes in the male body like fertility, muscle mass, and fat distribution. However, it also plays a part in a man’s libido. The lower the testosterone level, the increased possibility that he may start to develop sexual dysfunction to include a lower sex drive, fewer erections that happen spontaneously, and infertility.4
Low testosterone isn’t the only thing that can cause a man to feel uninterested in sex. Any feelings of inadequacy, either physically or mentally, can inhibit their desire. A man might begin to ask himself questions, such as: “What if my partner isn’t happy with my physical endowment?” or “What if my partner isn’t satisfied with my sexual performance?” These types of what-if questions can diminish a man’s libido quite a bit.
1/3 - Women Lost Interest in Sex
Women – What Causes Their Low Sex Drive?
WebMD states that almost one-third of women, ranging in ages from 18-59, have lost their interest in sex and that this is due to a combination of physical and mental factors.5 Up until menopause occurs, women have varying levels of estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone, all of which regulate the reproductive cycle, sex drive, and mood.37 When these levels are unbalanced, it could cause the libido to suffer, especially in menopausal women.
Symptoms of unbalanced hormones are: bloating, irritability, hair loss, palpitations, & trouble concentrating.44
It can’t be a shock that a woman loses her desire for sex when the hormone levels are out of whack.
Like men, women also suffer from feelings of inadequacy, though in a slightly different way than men. Women tend to focus more on their overall body image versus just one part of their body, and this causes them to have a poor body image. She might think her thighs are too big, which leads to her hips being too big, which leads to her breasts being too small, which leads to her face being too wrinkly, and so on and so forth. Before she knows it, she’s got it in her mind that her entire body is completely unattractive to everyone on the planet. If a woman isn’t comfortable in her own skin, it’s difficult for her to be comfortable with her partner when it comes to sexual intimacy.
The Good News!
If you’re suffering from a low libido or even a completely dead libido, hope is not lost! There are some lifestyle changes you can do in order to increase your libido naturally. If you’re not exercising, now’s the time to get up off that couch and get moving. Take a brisk walk, play tag with your kids, or learn a new sport you may enjoy that gets your heart rate up. Studies show that men who exercise:
60 minutes a day, 3-5 days a week,
have greater sexual enhancements.6 Also, studies show that women who exercise have more energy for sex, and the endorphins (neurotransmitters that produce positive feelings in the brain and body) are released, thus giving a happy, and often times euphoric, feeling.7 And if you’re exercising regularly, there’s no need for any recreational drug or alcohol use because the workouts are going to pump you full of endorphins (the natural happy high!).
Stress is going to be a part of life. We really can’t avoid it.
So, what can we do to minimize the stress in our life? Meditation and yoga are great ways to calm the mind and get refocused and refreshed. Also, think about prioritizing and organizing your daily tasks. Sometimes just writing stuff down so you can visually see what you’re dealing with can help you tackle it more effectively without wanting to pull your hair out. Another way to fight stress and boost your libido is to get a good night’s sleep. Calm your mind before you hit the pillow by reading a book or listening to some soothing music. Along with lifestyle changes, there are certain types of libido increasing foods and supplements to consider.
Libido-boosting foods include:
AvocadosFilled with vitamin E, potassium, and vitamin B6, avocados increase blood flow to the genitals.6 Integrating this yummy green fruit into your diet is as easy as adding it to a side of eggs, on top of your salad, or directly into a delicious smoothie.
FigsBoosts the secretion of pheromones (sexual scent of attraction).7 You can eat them after you’ve plucked them directly from the tree or bring them home and saute them in a pan with olive oil, balsamic vinaigrette, and a pinch of salt and pepper.
Black raspberriesA phytochemical-rich food that enhances sexual endurance.7 Add these little gems to your morning oatmeal or instead of popcorn, pop these babies into your mouth during your next movie night.
ChocolateA positive mood booster due to the increase in serotonin and dopamine levels that fill our body and brain with feelings of happiness.
PeppersThe hotter the better because the heat increases your metabolism and stimulates endorphins, and the result of this is an increased heart rate, a little sweat, and a plumpness in your lips, all of which gets the blood pumping throughout your body.10
AlmondsLoaded with zinc, selenium, and vitamin E, almonds aid in reproductive and sexual health.8 Before you leave the house, grab a handful and drop into a bag for a mid-afternoon nibble on-the-go.
GingerCommonly known for its ability to boost the immune system, ginger also increases blood circulation within all parts of the body, which allows for a clear passage of blood cells to the genitalia.9 Add to a cup of warm water, lemon and honey, and soothe any stresses away.
Vitamin C-filled foodsSuch as broccoli, oranges, red peppers, and guava. Vitamin C improves blood circulation to the body’s organs (this includes the sex organs!), and it helps regulates the reproductive hormones, testosterone, estrogen, and progesterone.39
Foods Shown to Naturally Increase Libido in Men:
- Watermelon – with high levels of lycopene, watermelon consumption relaxes blood vessels and improves blood circulation, which enhances the libido.10
- Nuts – the amino acid L-arginine, a building block that aids in men maintaining an erection, is prominent in pistachios, peanuts, and walnuts.10
Foods Shown to Naturally Increase Libido in Women:
- Vitamin B12-filled foods - such as tuna, crab, and eggs, are well-known for increasing energy. However, vitamin B12 also enlarges blood vessels in the vagina, which enhances the sensitivity receptors during vaginal stimulation.40
- Iron-rich foods - such as dark leafy greens (kale, spinach, and swiss chard) can increase iron levels. Low iron levels (commonly found in women), can decrease sexual desire and arousal.11
- Cheese – due to synthetic hormones, cheese decreases testosterone and estrogen levels.12
- Canned foods – loaded with sodium, canned foods reduce the blood flow to certain parts of the body, and this includes the genitals.13
- Licorice – glycyrrhizic acid is responsible for the distinctive taste in licorice. Unfortunately, glycyrrhizic acid also suppresses testosterone.14
- Microwave popcorn – yes, this is surprising food to avoid, but the chemicals used within the popcorn bag’s lining has been directly associated with a decreased sex drive in men as well as long-term prostate problems.15
- Sugar, specifically glucose – sugar comes in three forms: glucose, fructose, and sucrose. In 2013, a study showed that men who ingested glucose had a substantial reduction in testosterone.16
- Soy – foods that contain soy, such as edamame, tofu snacks and many vegetarian meat alternatives, can cause an imbalance in hormones, specifically with estrogen and testosterone levels.17, 18
Along with making some lifestyle choices and eating some tasty foods to boost your libido, there are many readily available supplements that help with the restoration of hormonal balance and increase the enhancement of sexual desires. Some supplements are specifically shown to be better for men or women, while these three supplements aid both men and women’s libidos:
- Wild Oat – Testosterone is often associated with males, however, it is also produced in women's ovaries. Studies show that a low libido in either sex is most likely caused by low testosterone. Avena sativa extract, found in wild oats, contains an alkaloid that acts as a stimulant. It’s believed that Avena sativa frees up any bound testosterone in the body, thus resulting in an increased libido.19
- Maca – also referred to as the Peruvian ginseng, Maca has been shown by studies to enhance sexual performance and fertility, and to increase overall sexual desires.20
- Hawthorn Berry – the red berries found on the flowering Hawthorn tree is used to support the cardiovascular system, which in turn helps with blood circulation.21 The effects of poor circulation can include erectile dysfunction in men and minimal sexual sensitivity in women. The Hawthorn berry combats poor circulation and increases blood flow throughout the body, and specifically to the male and female genitals; the increased blood flow improves sexual response.22
Libido Supplements for Men
- Tribulus Terrestris – increases the male libido by improving cardiovascular health, blood circulation, strength, and fertility, as well as increasing testosterone levels, stamina, and sexual functions.21, 23
- Longjack – produces aphrodisiac effects while also increasing sperm production.24
- Korean Ginseng – considered to be the most potent of all ginsengs, Korean ginseng increases a man’s ability to achieve and maintain an erection.25
- L-Citrulline - a non-essential amino acid that changes into L-arginine and then into nitric oxide, thanks to the kidneys.26 Nitric oxide increases blood flow to the penis which can lead to maintaining an erection.27
How to increase libido in men quickly? Checkout this Testosterone Support Supplement
Libido Supplements for Women
- Dong Quai – has been known to reduce estrogen levels when they are too high, but also increases estrogen levels when they are too low. In addition, it eases symptoms of PMS, helps reduce anxiety, and helps in replenishing red blood cells.28
- Theobromine – a bitter tasting alkaloid that comes from the cacao plant, it increases the serotonin levels, which enhances feelings of sexual desires and sexual responses.29, 30
- Red Chinese Ginseng root (Panax ginseng) – found to soothe feelings of stress and anxiety, it also helps to maintain hormone balances while also improving the body’s circulation. This root has been shown to increase sexual arousal in menopausal women.32
- L-Arginine – converts into nitric oxide which increases blood flow and dilates clitoral blood vessels, resulting in an improved arousal state.33
How to increase female libido quickly? Checkout this Female Libido Supplement
Lifestyle and dietary changes, as well as supplements, are excellent ways to boost your libido naturally. However, there are even more things you can do to put the kick back into your sex life. If you smoke, an increased libido is a great reason to quit. Smoking can decrease sexual desire by both you and your partner, and it can prevent blood flow to the penis.34 Drop those cigarettes and pick up your partner instead!
Communicate with your partner. This means to talk to each other about what your needs and desires are, or talk about any frustrations you may be feeling. Opening lines of communication can lead to supportive conversations about sexual problems and the ability to find agreeable solutions. You never know - maybe your partner has the same fantasy as you but has just been too scared to say it out loud. Just by talking, you and your partner may learn all sorts of new and fun things to improve the libido.
Get out of the house! Break the routine that might have led to a sexual rut. Plan a night out and include an overnight stay in a new location, even if that’s just at a hotel on the other side of town. Have a nice dinner date, get a couple’s massage, and enjoy the ambiance of a new room. There’s something about a hotel room that brings some of the fire back in between the sheets. It’s like that room is just your own bubble away from the rest of the world. Leave all your worries and stresses outside and just focus on getting busy!
You’re definitely not alone if you’re facing the challenges of a low libido. Rest assured, though, you have many natural libido enhancing options to try. Even though you’re not likely to see a change within hours, in time, you may be happily surprised at the results.
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