Low libido is not exactly a topic that people always discuss with a professional, whether it be a GP, counsellor or even their Naturopath. The truth is that while low libido is a problem for both men and women, it is often not perceived as a health problem. There are multiple factors that can impact sex drive and Naturopathy can play a positive role in addressing the cause of low libido and providing guidance, tools and support to address sexual health concerns.
Findings show that low sexual desire is more common in women of all ages, estimated to affect approximately 1 in 10 and can have a significant impact on a woman’s wellbeing. (1) While there are usually clear distinctions for males presenting with low libido such as erectile dysfunction or low testosterone levels, the reasons why women experience low libido appear to be more complex.
Regardless of gender, low sexual desire has been associated with low self-esteem, depression and emotional or psychological distress (1) which may be cause for concern and reason enough to seek out a professional. Multiple factors can influence sexual chemistry including neurotransmitter imbalances, hormonal changes, concurrent medical conditions and medication side effects, while exhaustion, anxiety and stress and interpersonal relationship issues may also have a role to play. (2)
Neurotransmitter and hormonal imbalances go hand in hand
Sex hormones have been shown to interact with various neurotransmitters and a critical balance is required for normal sexual function. (1) In general, dopamine, oestrogen, progesterone, and testosterone play an excitatory role in sexual desire, whereas serotonin, prolactin, and opioids play an inhibitory role. (3) Assessment tools such as saliva hormone testing and urinary neurotransmitter profiles may help to determine appropriate nutritional and herbal medicine solutions.
Life cycles, Libido cycles
Different life stages can influence libido significantly. Interestingly, during the transition to parenthood, both women and men report a decline in sexual desire – in theory, an evolutionarily adaptive focus on parenting over mating, attributed to changes in testosterone levels. (4) Menopause, including premature or surgical menopause, is often associated with low libido. The natural drop in oestrogen leads to vaginal atrophy (thinning of vaginal tissue and dryness), which may cause dyspareunia (painful intercourse).
Parenting and menopause aside, low sexual desire is often not solely caused by hormone deficiency. (1) A closer look at a person’s overall health can often provide insight, while abstinence at certain times of life may be completely appropriate for an individual and couple.
A healthier life, a healthier sex life
Low sexual desire has been associated with a range of health concerns including thyroid disease, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. (1) Women with thyroid disorders have a higher prevalence of female sexual dysfunction (5) while the prevalence of sexual problems increases sharply in middle-aged adults, (6) perhaps coinciding with an increase in health problems in this age group.
Medication side effects can also impact libido. Various medications can influence sexual desire including antidepressants, antipsychotics, antihypertensives, hormones and corticosteroids. (1) Naturopathy provides an opportunity to improve on health conditions that may better libido levels. Simply following the desire to be healthier may also reignite the sexual spark.
Live the Love
The four pillars of health – exercise, healthy diet, relaxation and sleep – can make all the difference to sensing increased desire and arousal. Self-love and self-care are a vital part of sexual health and Naturopathy can also encourage a healthy mindset.
Talking to a practitioner about sexual health is perfectly natural. Holistic solutions on offer can include massage, acupuncture, exercise prescription including yoga therapy and pelvic floor exercises, and Naturopathic medicine. Better health can bring about many beneficial changes, sex drive being just one.