Get Your Sexy Back: How Your Workouts Are Crushing Your Libido
So, you’ve been hitting the gym regularly and eating well. You’ve shed some fat, gained some muscle, and look better than you have in years. In fact, you’re looking hot! However, you are feeling anything but sexy. Indeed, sex is about the last thing on your mind. Why is that?
Why, when you should be feeling like jumping your man’s (or lady’s) bones, is all you really want to do is zone out to some Netflix and go to bed? Could it have anything to do with the fact that you work a fifty-hour workweek, take care of the kids, pay the bills, get dinner on the table, and fold everyone’s laundry on top of eating well and hitting the gym? Maybe you’re just a little overworked? Underpaid? Stressed?
Yes! Our favorite TV characters might be able to juggle their careers, family responsibilities, rock a six-pack, and still be a wild woman or man in the bedroom, but guess what? They’re acting. When we try to carry the weight of the world on our shoulders, more often than not, our libido suffers.
Survival = No Sex
I think a lot of people are scared to talk about their lack of desire. No man or woman likes to admit they have little to no interest in sexy-time shenanigans. I think it’s especially hard if you are fit. Why wouldn’t you want to get jiggy with it? You’ve worked so hard to look awesome!
Well, when you’re stressed out and trying to do too much, your body - which turns out to be pretty darn good at this whole survival thing - turns down the drive to reproduce. You see, hormone synthesis and potential reproduction are pretty darn demanding on the body, especially for us ladies. When we’re stressed out and taking on too much, our bodies put the kibosh on anything that might require even more of us mentally and physically. Thus, our libido suffers and we turn down sex more often than not.
The No Sex Science
Let’s talk about this on a more scientific (but simple) level. Our HPA axis senses stress, turns on the fight-or-flight response, and fires up the production of cortisol, epinephrine, and norepinephrine. This causes anxiety, rapid heart rate, and high blood pressure, and shunts blood to the muscles, heart, brain, and lungs - away from other organs and body parts. If we’re chronically stressed and our fight-or-flight mode is basically turned on autopilot, you can imagine which body parts aren’t getting a lot of blood flow.
Also, too much stress can also cause a decline in serotonin and dopamine. Both of these are neurotransmitters that make us feel happy and attracted to our partners, aka sexual. Testosterone, the hormone most responsible for sexual drive in most men and women, also plummets as a result of too much stress. So these neurotransmitters and sex hormones that drive libido take a nosedive and make our desire for nookie and physical sexual responsiveness abysmal.
How to Get Your Sexy Back
I’ll admit, there were times when I wondered what the heck was wrong with me. I’ll just be really honest and say there were entire years, maybe decades, when I felt completely asexual. Nary a dirty thought crossed my mind. It’s kind of sad when I think back on that part of my life. It’s not normal to be that young and feel completely devoid of sexuality.
And why, in my early- to mid-twenties, was I so completely uninterested in sex? Because I was over-trained, working several jobs, going to school full time, and constantly worried about making ends meet. I can only imagine how people with kiddos, a mortgage, and a high-stress career plus the physical demands of a vigorous training schedule feel. It’s a wonder any of us have kids at all with the nutty schedules most of us keep.
So, what do we do to get our sexual mojo back?
- Reduce stress. Both physical and mental stressors need to be dialed back. I’m not telling you to go out and quit your job, but you should look into ways to reduce hours, become more efficient, and say no to extra projects. Also, reevaluate your training schedule. Has your libido suffered ever since you started training for that marathon or started two-a-days at the gym? Or maybe you’re running yourself ragged trying to ferry the kids to multiple after-school activities? Maybe it’s time to simplify their hobbies? They probably need all those extra activities about as much as you do. Too much is too much no matter how old you are.
- Change your diet. If you are eating a super low-fat diet, you are probably lacking cholesterol, which your body uses to make sex hormones like testosterone. Foods higher in cholesterol, especially when eaten before bed, can help to boost testosterone levels.
- Force yourself to be more sexual. No, I’m not saying just lie there and take it. But I am saying you will probably have to stoke the embers a bit if it’s been a while since you really felt like having sex. Everyone’s going to be a bit different when it comes to what does it for you sexually. It might mean stopping at your local Victoria’s Secret or maybe just some flirty text messages between you and your significant other. For some it might take a trip to the “toy store.” Play around, figure out what works for you, and have fun with it. Remember, it is supposed to be fun!
- Get your hormones evaluated. I cannot stress how important this is. If you’ve tried all the aforementioned tips to rev up your sexual appetite and nothing is working, then you may need the help of a health care provider. Sometimes, a kick-start with hormone therapy, dietary supplements, or even compounded creams or lotions can help reignite the flame, so to speak. But, you’ll want to know what your estrogen, testosterone, and adrenal hormones look like so the proper therapy can be initiated. For me, hormone therapy is what it took to kick things into gear and my only regret is not doing it sooner.
So, if you’ve lost that loving feeling and you’d really like to get it back, it’s time to reevaluate some things in your life. Scale back, simplify, and take some time for yourself and your significant other. Take hard look at your training and make sure your desire to meet fitness-related goals isn’t causing too much physical stress and resulting in a reduced libido. Flirt, dress up, and go on a real date, and fake it ‘til you make it. Oh, and have a steak (or Brazil nuts for the vegans), too! If all that fails to make a difference, then find a doctor who is familiar with hormone treatment and get checked out. Being sexual is a very large part of the human experience. Don’t miss out!
Photos courtesy of Shutterstock.