Sexual health is often overlooked in medical settings. While many doctors and patients realize the importance of discussing mental, physical, and emotional wellbeing, sexuality is frequently neglected. However, studies show that up to 43% of people have unsatisfactory sex lives. One of the most common reasons for this, for both men and women, is a low sex drive, aka low libido.
Because sex hormones such as estrogen and testosterone are key components of sexual health and reproduction, it can be easy to blame them as the cause of libido issues. While this can be the case, hormones are not the ‘be all end all’ players when it comes to a healthy sex drive. There are many other factors that play a part, and if libido is an issue, your physician can help you explore the various potential causes.
While physical pleasure is an obvious component of a healthy sex drive, the psychological aspect should not be underestimated. If an individual is having any sort of mood disorders, such as depression, it can be nearly impossible for the body to become aroused.
Laboratory testing can be done to see if there is an underlying condition that can alter mood, such as anemia, thyroid disorders, or nutritional deficiencies. Neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin are commonly low in people with depression, so looking for such chemical imbalances would provide a clear identification of depression.
Stress also plays a role in sexual desire. When we do not have an outlet to relieve stress, it can have serious consequences on health, low libido being one potential outcome. When people are under high amounts of stress they often produce excess cortisol, known as the stress hormone. This overproduction can cause imbalances in sex hormones, leading to a lower sex drive.
Testing can be done to identify if stress and increased cortisol are contributing to libido issues. If so, stress reduction techniques, counseling, body work and supplementation are all potential options for treatment used by naturopathic doctors.
While it may seem overly simplified, low energy is another very common cause of decreased libido. In such a case, a person may either not think about sex, or may think about it, but lack the energy to act upon such thoughts. Although some level of fatigue is common in many people, this degree may indicate an underlying condition. Conditions to consider include thyroid disease, anemia, malnutrition, and various infections like mono or Lyme disease. Discovering the cause of fatigue is key, and correcting it can help a person regain stamina in the bedroom.
In today’s society, it is very common for people to have stagnant lifestyles. People spend large amounts of time being stationary and not enough time being physically active. Stagnation within the body causes people to have low energy, discomfort within the body, and decreased motivation. Exercise leads to increased energy, uplifted mood, a better perception of body image, and increased blood flow, all of which are beneficial for libido.
Pain can affect us throughout our entire body and in very specific ways. It can be musculoskeletal or neurological, but can also be more internal, such as with the reproductive organs. A person experiencing pain, regardless of the type or location, reduces the desire for physical contact. Pain is your body’s way of announcing a problem, and it will commonly continue to be damaging if not addressed. By performing blood work, physical exams, or imaging techniques, we can begin to help pinpoint the source of your pain and start corrective treatments. Reducing pain will often allow a person to gain their lives back, and continue doing the activities that once brought them joy.
Because sexual health plays such a huge role in a person’s quality of life, it is important to treat libido with just as much significance as other aspects of your health. Don’t be afraid to speak with your doctor about your sex drive, and to work with him or her to help create wellness and strength throughout the entire body.
Dr. Tonya Pasternak is a board certified naturopathic physician with a family practice in Manchester, CT at Connecticut Natural Health Specialists. All of the physicians are in-network providers for most insurance companies. For appointments or more information, please call (860)533-0179 or visit ctnaturalhealth.com.