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Hormones, Sexual health & Libido

How Hormones Impact Libido

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Hormones, Sexual health & Libido

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A healthy, fulfilling sex life is an integral part of being human. We each have our own definition of fulfilling and healthy, and that definition changes throughout life. In some phases, our libido is high, low, or even unnoticeable (aka “normal”). It’s likely that you can’t point to your entire life thus far as one stagnant libido. 

As hormones course through our bodies, they interact with other hormones to change our sexual function. However, we know that pure biology isn’t the one controller of our sexual appetite. Since humans are now having sex beyond just conception, the term “libido” was born! In this blog, we’ll explore how hormones affect libido and how the mind-hormone connection can result in a low or high libido. 

What is Libido? 

Libido is a psychological term referring to an individual’s sexual desire and activity. There is no normal libido. The only “normal” libido that exists is the one that your body is familiar with!  

Is Libido the Same for Men and Women? 

There’s a stereotype that men have significantly higher libidos than women. The truth is, that stereotype hardly scratches the surface of what affects an individual’s libido.  

Yes, men generally have more testosterone (the sex hormone). But as you will learn in this blog, testosterone is not the only hormone that impacts libido. 

How Does Testosterone Effect Libido for Men vs Women? 

Testosterone is credited for fertility and libido in both men and women. This hormone changes throughout lifespan, menstrual cycles, and even day by day!  

Testosterone’s Effect on Men’s Libido 

Testosterone production varies for men depending on age, overall health, and even exercise.  

Men who are younger, avoid toxins, and do strength training exercises are often the ones with higher testosterone. The production of testosterone for these men heightens sperm count and sexual function. As the body is primed for conception, testosterone can also increase sexual desire and potentially lead to more frequent sexual activity. 

As men age past 30 years, testosterone levels decrease. In fact, between ages 30-60, men are likely to lose 30% of their testosterone! This slower hormone production decreases sperm counts and sexual stamina. As a result, libido may lower for two reasons: the body biologically is less interested, or the performance dysfunction can cause men to shy away from sexual activity. 

Testosterone’s Effect on Women’s Libido 

As with men, testosterone production in women also depends on age, exercise, and overall health.  

Young, healthy, menstruating women often have higher levels of testosterone than other women. The reasoning is purely biological—the body knows that a young women will likely have the most ease with conception, so it pumps testosterone to encourage a higher libido. As women age and lose the ability to conceive, testosterone decreases drastically—which may be why some women remember having a “higher” libido before menopause! 

How Does the Menstrual Cycle Effect Libido for Women? 

The menstrual cycle’s effect on libido is linked to probability of conception and the production of testosterone. During the menstrual phase (bleeding), women produce little testosterone and may see a lull in their libido. The body does this because the menstrual phase is the least probable for conception. 

As a woman’s body gets ready to fertilize an egg during the ovulation phase, the body throws testosterone in the mix. The testosterone may produce a higher libido as the body hopes for conception. 

How Does Estrogen Effect Libido for Men vs Women? 

Both sexes produce forms of estrogen that affect libido and sexual function, but the function acts inversely for men versus women. 

Estradiol’s Effect on Men’s Libido 

Men have a form of estrogen called estradiol that usually isn’t significant until age 30 when men lose testosterone. As men lose testosterone, estradiol tries to balance it to maintain sexual function.  

However, if a man has too much estradiol compared to testosterone, it can cause inverse issues, like erectile dysfunction (ED). ED naturally makes sexual activity more challenging and may cause a man to avoid sexual activity altogether—thus lowering libido. 

Estrogen’s Effect on Women’s Libido 

Similarly to in men, estrogen also plays a role in sexual function for women. However, instead of increasing with age, women’s estrogen decreases. A women’s estrogen also fluctuates during the menstrual cycle.  

This hormone is vital for naturally lubricating a vagina for intercourse. With low estrogen levels, women may experience dryness or discomfort during sexual activity, resulting in a lower libido. 

How Does Cortisol Effect Libido for Men vs Women? 

Cortisol, the stress hormone, can distract us from anything—even our libido! The release of cortisol can cause fatigue, anxiety, or pain that puts our libido low on the priority list. It can even interrupt an intimate moment if our mind is racing from stressors. 

Not just that, but remember our sex hormone testosterone? Cortisol also suppresses testosterone! As we’ve learned from testosterone’s effect on estrogen and the menstrual cycle, suppressed testosterone may cause dysfunction and disinterest in sexual activity for men and women. 

 

What Supplements Increase Libido? 

A low libido can be frustrating. Whether your mind isn’t aligning with your body, or your partner has a different libido.  

Although you may feel stuck, there are natural remedies for stimulating your systems and increasing libido.  

Supplements you can try include: 

  • Maca 
  • DHEA 
  • Ginseng 
  • Tongkat Ali 
  • Tribulus Terrestris 
  • Horny Goat Weed 
  • L-Arginine 
  • Zinc 

Read more about the effects of each supplement or shop now! 

Testing Your Hormones 

Libido can be a sensitive and uncomfortable topic, but you aren’t alone. It’s natural for your libido to fluctuate throughout your lifespan and change your relationship to sexual activity. Listen to your body and your needs to determine if you’re struggling with your libido. 

If you are experiencing an overactive or underactive libido, it may be a sign of imbalanced hormones. Testing your hormones may reveal answers about your hormone levels. 

At our clinic, we offer functional lab testing for you to identify your hormone levels and work with a practitioner to rebalance them. Click here to schedule your tests! 

 

 

Sources 

https://www.news-medical.net/health/What-is-Libido.aspx 

https://www.verywellhealth.com/what-is-libido-5084040 

https://www.ncoa.org/article/why-do-older-adults-lose-their-libido 

 

 

 

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