do you suffer from low libido - woman in bed

Do you suffer from low libido?

In Health and Nutrition, Love, Sex and Sexuality, Women's Health by Narelle StegehuisLeave a Comment

If you do you are not alone. Research suggests that more than 40 per cent of women worldwide report lack of or low libido, making it the commonest female sexual complaint.

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, you may be looking to food as a way to tickle the taste buds and spark up the libido. However, before you rush to the grocery store, let’s take a closer look and see exactly what is it that makes your libido lose its mojo.

First of all, it is important to highlight that lack of libido is not necessarily a sexual ‘dysfunction’

For many women there are often very good reasons why a woman’s desire may be low. These can include underlying neurotransmitter weakness, hormonal imbalance, relationship disturbance, physical and emotional issues and stressful life circumstances.

According to clinical research:
  • More than 72% of women suffer from neurotransmitter imbalance
  • As many as 75% percent of women have hormonal disturbances contributing to low libido
  • Up to 62% of women may have emotional issues contributing to lowered sexual desire
  • 89% of women find their life far too stressful!

These women all experience symptoms of loss of sex drive.

The number of women with low sex drive is staggering

Hormonal imbalance caused by menopause, fibroids, endometriosis, PCOS and thyroid imbalance can lead to problems with libido. Furthermore, these women may also experience feelings of isolation and distress that comes from inhibited sexual desire.
Let us take a closer look at what factors contribute to low sexual desire and what can be done about it. In a supportive environment, you can be cured of these problems relatively quickly and naturally.

So what causes low libido?

Some women never experience much sexual desire from puberty onwards. This may be caused by neurotransmitter weakness, hormonal imbalance or a combination of both. So let’s take a quick glance at what these two areas are and how they impact your libido.

What is neurotransmitter weakness?

Even though this sounds complicated in its basic form, it simply means you are exhausted and just too darned tired to engage in anything remotely energetic. Neurotransmitters are chemical messengers released from nerve cells that communicate to other nerve cells to control major body functions including movement, emotional response and libido.
The most commonly known neurotransmitters are serotonin, norepinephrine, dopamine, acetylcholine, and GABA and histamine.

‘Great’, you say,’ I’ll pop down to the pharmacy and ask for a kilo of it on the way to the grocery store.’

Unfortunately, it is a little more involved than that!

First of all let’s establish if this is where your libido’s lagging

Typical signs and symptoms of neurotransmitter weakness are:
  • Irritability
  • Depression
  • Insomnia
  • Urine frequency
  • Fatigue
  • Weight gain in a pear-shaped distribution (hips and thighs)
  • Dry mouth
  • Ringing in the ears

It’s uncommon for a woman to have all of these symptoms, but two or more symptoms suggest that a lab test for blood histamine is in order.

So what can cause low levels?

  • Binge drinking
  • Dried fruits
  • High copper levels – foods such as smoked fish, soy flour, refined flour
  • Stress
It’s important to recognise that high levels of stress and the daily responsibilities, financial worries and the demands of juggling work and family will deplete these important brain chemicals. This will make it hard enough to smile happily, much less to get in the mood for sex.

What tests are available for establishing exact levels?

Tests are available through registered practitioners and are designed to establish neurotransmitter imbalances. The great benefit of this is that, once deficiencies are established, supplementation to balance the deficiencies becomes easy. Your practitioner will also be able to dispense a formulation specific to your individual requirements.
Focus on foods high in:
  • Vitamin C  (best sources guava, blackberry, parsley, watercress, strawberries
  • Vitamin B6 (best sources chicken, turkey, salmon, silverbeet, eggplant
  • Calcium (best sources almonds, sardines, Brazil nuts, eggs, low fat dairy)

In addition

  • Cysteine (best sources lean meat, egg yolks, nuts and seeds)
  • Selenium and zinc (best sources Brazil nuts, mushrooms, tahini, oysters)
  • Folic acid (best sources orange juice, limes, hazelnuts and watercress)

But if you want to try a more targeted approach, a personalised amino acid profile is a fantastic option. Once this approach is applied, I find my clients don’t need to look at another oyster!

So now let’s explore the second major influence …

What are hormones and how do they affect your libido?

Hormones carry messages from glands to cells to maintain chemical levels in the bloodstream that achieve balance or ‘homoeostasis’. Testosterone is a hormone and is one of the key players in your sex drive: it affects interest, arousal, sexual response, lubrication and orgasm. And many women just don’t have enough testosterone.

So why is this so …? First, before menopause, our testosterone comes primarily from our ovaries, via their production of progesterone. If your body levels of oestrogen (another hormone) are too high, your body’s production of progesterone will slow down, causing testosterone levels to drop.

According to research, high levels of oestrogen may be caused from genetics, diet and environmental pollutants

Many common prescription medications, including birth control pills, can alter oestrogen levels and influence sexual desire.
Secondly, after menopause, testosterone is sourced from the adrenals via the production of a hormone called DHEA. If we’re under too much stress, though, the adrenals work overtime, favouring cortisol instead of DHEA production. This can lead to low testosterone levels and resultant low libido. Unfortunately, to make things a little more depressing, elevated cortisol levels contribute to weight gain around the middle … something we can all do without!

Major contributors to hormonal imbalance are:

  • Stress
  • Depression
  • Ageing
  • Too much exercise
  • Low thyroid
  • Polycystic ovarian disorder
  • Endometriosis
  • Fibroids
  • Menopause

What tests are available for establishing exact levels?

Salivary hormone test kits are a non-invasive way to assess hormone levels and function within the body – via analysis of a saliva sample, from registered practitioners.

The hormones tested provide information about the levels of the bio-available hormones that are active within your body. When considered in conjunction with other diagnosis techniques, this provides valuable information to evaluate the underlying causes of your low libido.

Foods to run off to the grocery store for are:

  • Adrenal supporting foods
  • Magnesium: sunflower seeds, turkey, passionfruit, legumes
  • Calcium
  • But avoid coffee, alcohol, smoking, stimulants and refined foods.
  • Herbal support for decreased libido
  • Maca (Lepidium meyenii)
  • Damania
  • Tribulus terrestris
  • Ginkgo
  • Herbal support for vaginal dryness
  • Shatavari
  • Chinese asparagus
  • Licorice

Secondary inhibited sexual desire

Some women enjoy significant levels of sexual desire only to lose interest due to the negative effects of physical, emotional, relationship, sexual and situational factors known as ‘desire inhibitors’.

Libido can be boosted in these women by reducing or eliminating these inhibiting factors. Common inhibitors of desire include fatigue, stress, depression, relationship problems and dissatisfying sexual activity. One of the best courses of action to overcome secondary inhibited sexual desire is to attend relationship counselling. After all, if you don’t like your partner, why would you want to have sex with him?

What treatments are available for lowered libido?

I have treated hundreds of women who suffer from low libido, ranging from their early 20s through to post-menopause. Many of these women have dealt with this problem over a long period of time. And too many have been told that there was nothing that could be done. Fortunately there is! Symptoms like low libido are your body’s way of telling you there is a problem. Therefore ignoring them is not valuing yourself, as a woman or a lover.

See if you can establish WHY you have a lowered sexual desire. This is the first place to start. This can consist of requesting further testing for:
  • Thyroid imbalance
  • Low iron levels
  • Low progesterone levels
  • Neurotransmitter imbalance
  • Low testosterone levels
  • Cortisol elevation and stress hormone indicators

There are a number of options available to you for treatment

Being a naturopath, I believe strongly the importance of not masking symptoms. Look for the reasons why you feel that way. Then put in place a detailed treatment plan taking into consideration all the facets of your life, history, diet, lifestyle and hormone levels in your body. Also vital is ongoing individual support to get this back on track again.

Five steps to reclaiming your libido

Step 1. Identify what factors are contributing to your hormonal imbalance
Step 2. Change your diet to support healthy neurotransmitter and hormonal balance
Step 3. Implement a targeted nutritional treatment plan specifically tailored to your biochemical profile
Step 4. Introduce targeted natural remedies to improve oestrogen, testosterone, progesterone and adrenal hormone balance
Step 5. Access a professional support network that will guide and help you change unhealthy lifestyle choices that contribute to your condition

While individual results will vary, most women will report significant improvement in libido in six to eight weeks. Improvement in their associated symptoms in the first two to four weeks.

If you want to take action you can make these small improvements in the right places that improve your health and consequently improve your libido

Consequently, you may even shed a couple of kilos in the process!
Research supports that without guided professional support 82% of women give up on implementing health changing programs. Due to this, it is important to seek the guidance and support of a qualified health professional. They can help and support you to overcome any obstacles that come your way. Most importantly, they will have the years of experience to pull you through!

By applying my recommendations you will shortcut to your success and enhance your chance of romance this Valentine’s Day.

About the author
Narelle Stegehuis

Narelle Stegehuis

Narelle Stegehuis, CEO of MassAttack, is a practising naturopath specialising in the research and development of natural treatment programs for women with hormonal imbalances, which have contributed to such symptoms as weight gain, cravings, anxiety & mood swings.

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