Springing Into Fertility: Are you in the mood?
Spring is typically the time of new beginnings: we do spring cleaning to rid our homes of unneeded clutter, we do health kicks to rid our bodies of unneeded toxins and we start climbing out of the dark winter into a brighter season. We have touched on the magic of detoxifying your space and body, but one topic we haven’t touched on is fertility.
Fertility can be a loaded word. There are so many societal expectations on both men and women in relation to fertility and therefore judgment passed for people’s decisions, or even circumstance around having or not having children. This is an open, judgment-free space where we will provide information on everything from libido to factors impacting fertility. Today we will start with duh, duh, duuuuuh…libido.
What is Libido?
Libido –simply put- is sex drive. It is a person’s desire or lack of desire for sexual activity. Libido is different than the physiological mechanism of sexual performance. Yes, if there is low libido, then it can impact performance, however having sexual dysfunction (whether it is erectile dysfunction, vaginal dryness, premature ejaculation etc.) can still occur when libido is high.
Factors That Can Impact Libido
As with everything we talk about, libido is holistic; it takes into account the body, mind and spirit.
Medications: Anti-depressants (SSRI’s specifically) and oral birth control are notorious for reducing libido and inability to achieve an orgasm.
Psychosocial factors: Stress, anxiety, and depression; this has been shown in research to be particularly true for women. There is more ‘mindfulness’ required for the average women to ‘be in the mood’ and achieve an orgasm than for a man, however this does not preclude these factors from affecting males.
Hormonal imbalances: Sex hormones are all about the ratios. One important ratio is testosterone:DHT (dihydrotestosterone). DHT is much more biologically active, however if testosterone is being continuously converted to DHT (which can happen for a number of different reasons), then testosterone will be lower, potentially impacting libido. Testosterone is important in both men and women for libido.
How to Improve Libido
It isn’t inherently good or bad to have a high or low sex drive; it depends on if it causes you any distress. Some individuals are completely fine with having a low libido while some with a high sex drive feel distressed by it. However, the most commonly seen complaint in a primary care setting is low libido, which is why it is touched on here.
Sleep: Our bodies prioritize; if we are too tired to wake up in the morning, falling asleep in the afternoon just to conserve energy at any point, likely your body isn’t concerned about having offspring.
Stress: Still, our bodies prioritize. If it feels under attack from constant threats (work, school, relationships), reproduction is low on the list of your body’s to-do list. Practicing mindfulness, communication with your partner(s), and supporting the body’s stress response with naturopathic modalities are all way to help reduce stress (link) and increase libido.
Herbs: Tongkat ali, Withania (ashwaganda), panax ginseng, Vitex (chaste berry) (for women), circulatory stimulants such as gingko.
Exercise and eating a whole foods diet: Blood flow, mood and proper hormone production.
We are also very aware that in many individual’s lives, libido is not necessarily an aspect of fertility that needs to be considered such as IVF (in vitro fertilization) or IUI (intra-uterine insemination). This article is not to exclude, rather inform everyone about factors influencing libido.
Disclaimer: This is EXTREMELY individual and we do not recommend starting anything without consulting a health care practitioner. Contact a Naturopathic Doctor about your concerns and what protocol is best for you.
Fooladi, Ensieh, et al. "Testosterone Improves Antidepressant‐Emergent Loss of Libido in Women: Findings from a Randomized, Double‐Blind, Placebo‐Controlled Trial." The journal of sexual medicine 11.3 (2014): 831-839.
Reed, Beverly G., Laurice Bou Nemer, and Bruce R. Carr. "Has testosterone passed the test in premenopausal women with low libido? A systematic review." International journal of women's health 8 (2016): 599.
González, Y. Ortega, D. Báez Quintana, and PR Gutiérrez Hernández. "PS-05-014 Predictors of loss of libido in infertile couples." The Journal of Sexual Medicine 13.5 (2016): S100.
Waldinger, M. D. "A New Neurobiology of Libido: a Complex Interplay Between Testosterone, 5-HT and 5-HT1a Receptor Functioning." European Psychiatry 30 (2015): 73.