Where Your Libido Went and How to Get It Back
Admit it: one of the reasons you work out is to be sexier.You want to be leaner, more muscular, and to attract the opposite sex. But what if your workouts are actually squashing your sexuality? If your libido is in the basement and you’re wondering why, then keep reading.
Why Your Libido Is on the Lowdown
In her article Get Your Sexy Back: How Your Workouts Are Crushing Your Libido, nurse practitioner Vanessa Bennington explains how doing super intense workouts coupled with a high-stress, slow-sleep lifestyle can kill your desires:
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.
In order to combat this problem, Vanessa suggests you reduce your overall stress levels, clean up your diet, practice just being more sexual (whether you “feel” like it or not), and get your hormone level evaluated. For more on hormone testing, read Vanessa’s article What You Need to Know About Hormone Testing: Which Test to Get and Why.
How Much Sex is A Healthy Amount of Sex?
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), we have two types of energy – jing and qi. Qi helps us get through our daily activities, challenges, and workouts, but if we push ourselves too hard, then our bodies have to tap into a deeper store of energy, our jing. So, ideally, we would moderate our activities to just use qi and save our jing.
Jing is also the energy associated with sex and the creation of life. According to TCM practitioner Traver Boehm:
In men [jing] is highly potent in our semen and in women in their eggs. Every time a man ejaculates, he loses some jing in the form of millions of sperm. Every time a woman ovulates, she also loses some Jing in the form of a single egg - not nearly as much as her male counterpart during sex.
So TCM offers this guideline when it comes to sexual frequency:
TCM also suggest that if you are feeling worn down you should lay off the sex to restore your energy (and the same goes for masturbation). For more on this topic, check out Traver’s article How Much Bacon Should You Be Makin’?.
How to Get Your Sexy Back
Here are two different approaches to boosting your libido – first, from the perspective of Western medicine, and then according to TCM. In her article 3 Natural Libido Enhancers, Vanessa Bennington suggests the following three supplements, particularly for women:
- DHEA - a hormone that is converted to testosterone and estrogen in the body. Women respond best to 50-100 mg of DHEA daily.
- DIM - a phytonutrient that can help with the healthy metabolism of estrogens and can decrease something called sex hormone binding globulin. This is of particular use to women on birth control or those who drink alcohol regularly. About 100-200 mg per day is enough to reap the benefits.
- Yohimbine and Arginine - Dosages of around 6 mg of both supplements have been shown to increase libido, but some sources suggest 500-1000 mg of arginine is more beneficial.
Traditional Chinese Medicine, on the other hand, recommends an herb called yin yang huo, which is commonly called horny goat weed. (That name kind of makes sense, right?) Another suggested herb is wu wei zi, also known as schisandra. Both of these can be made into teas.
In his article Fuel for Your Bedroom Fire: Natural Ways to Increase Libido, TCM expert Traver Boehm also reminds us that our diet makes a difference in our sexual health. Here’s what he suggests for those of you not interested in seeing a TCM practitioner or experimenting with herbs:
What should you do if you don’t have access to a licensed herbalist or herb store? Not an issue. TCM, like most holistic medical systems, believes heavily in the use of food as a means of modifying internal situations.
Paul Pritchford in his great book Healing With Whole Foods, advocates both sexes adding any of the following into their diet to spice up the noontime quickie:
- Fenugreek Seeds
- Fennel Seeds
- Anise Seeds
- Black Peppercorn
- Ginger (dried preferred)
- Cinnamon Bark
- Black Beans
So never fear, even if your sexual desires are waning, it doesn’t mean there’s anything unnatural going on. It just means it’s time for you to slow down, listen to your body, and give it what it needs. And once you do that - you’ll find your most enjoyable need returning.
Photos courtesy of Shutterstock.