Sex is a natural and pleasurable part of a healthy lifestyle, so when interest wanes or sexual difficulties occur, it can be confronting and uncomfortable for both you and your partner. Low libido is very common, and is often triggered by hormonal or emotional problems. In this article I want to unpack what can go wrong and what you can do to get your Mojo back on track.
What are the symptoms of low libido & sexual dysfunction?
Regarding sexual desire everyone has different feelings and expectations on what they consider ‘normal’. This can range from being highly sexual to rarely interested. It is therefore very difficult to define sexual dysfunction based on the “how many times a week in normal” question. Issues surrounding libido usually becomes a concern when your own level of sexual interest and function changes, OR your interest level doesn’t align with your partner. Sexual difficulties can take several different forms, including:
- Low libido or sex drive (reduced interest in or aversion to sexual intimacy)
- Difficulty becoming aroused
- Inability to perform sexually and/or achieve a normal orgasm
- Pain during intercourse
What causes low libido & sexual dysfunction?
Libido and sexual performance are likely to reflect your personal preferences, relationship status, physical health and emotional wellbeing. Therefore, when sexual dysfunction occurs the causes may be physical, psychological or both. The issues that may cause or contribute to low libido and sexual dysfunction in both men and women include:
- Stress / overwhelm
- Hormonal imbalances ie. low testosterone in men, low oestrogen in women
- Mild anxiety and other mood disorders
- Personal circumstances / relationship issues
- Weight / body image issues
- Chronic illness /pain
- Alcohol / prescription medication / recreational drugs
- Cardiovascular problems affecting the circulatory system
- Blood sugar issues
- Performance anxiety / Erectile dysfunction / Premature ejaculation
- Past trauma (especially those arising from past sexual experiences)
- Cultural and religious attitudes to sex
- Vaginal dryness (particularly for menopausal women)
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) low libido and poor sexual function relate to the Kidney organ-meridian as this is the system than governs the sexual organs and hormones. Everything in life needs a balance of Yin (female energies) and Yang (male energies), including our relationships and sex life. Yang is energy, active, hot – this is the desire to initiate sex. Yin is slow, moist, cool – represents the stamina & performance. You can see in these descriptions that the whole act of having good sex is a complex balance and interplay of Yin and Yang – sex that is highly Yang is too fast & frenetic. Sex that is too Yin is slow & boring.
- Initiating sex requires Yang energy from either partner
- Being receptive to the initiation and transforming into something mutual requires Yin energy from the other partner.
- The man’s erection is Yang
- The woman’s ability to receive is Yin.
Diet and lifestyle recommendations for low libido and sexual dysfunction
These are some natural solutions to rev up your Mojo: –
- Exercise – regular exercise is an important part of maintaining vitality and boosting your libido. Exercise reduces stress, improves fitness and activates blood flow which all improve sexual desire and satisfaction. Exercise also alleviates stagnation associated with poor sexual response. However, keep in mind that over-training may drain your energy reserves and ultimately reducing sex drive
- Eat well – eating a balanced wholefood nourishing diet. Reduce/avoid junk food, packaged/processed foods, alcohol & caffeine from your diet.
- Stress / Mindfulness – chronic stress has a huge effect on the body. The fast paced demands of modern life often mean we are running on adrenaline. Adrenaline/cortisol that fuel the body in the “fight or flight” response can have a significant effect on sex drive. It is very difficult to remove stress from our lives but we can do MANY things to help reduce our stress response ie. low intensity exercise, deep breathing, meditation, massage, acupuncture, hobbies etc. If your mind is distracted it is very hard to be in the moment and enjoy sex. Daily meditation is a great way of decluttering your mind so you can stay present in the moment which then increases your responsiveness and sexual pleasure.
- Connection – often we feel too tired and unmotivated about our sex lives. However, we often miss the energetic connection with our partner and feel guilty that we have let this part of our relationship slip away. From a Chinese medicine perspective, a healthy sexual appetite in the context of a supportive relationship is very important. The Taoist sages would say that having sex joins us energetically to our partners. It is also important to connect in simple ways such as holding hands, cuddles on the couch, saying I love you, talking/sharing etc. In a good sexual relationship, both partners contribute energy to each other and having a healthy sex life can increase your lifespan and promote health.
- 5 Love Languages – how do you give & receive love? Get both you and your partner to take this short quiz so you can discover what your emotional communication preference is. It is a bit of fun and can help you understand and connect with your partner better to maintain intimacy and fulfillment. Click this link to discover your love language.
- Counselling – often libido issues are caused by relationship difficulties, stress or mood problems. Seeking therapy from a qualified counsellor may help to address the underlying issues and restore your sexual vitality. Psychological factors such as anxiety, depression, body image/self-esteem, PTSD can all interfere with your interest in sex.
- Lubrication – poor lubrication makes sex painful, which means satisfaction levels and desire will naturally decline. The most common reason is vaginal atrophy, when oestrogen levels drop during the lead-up to menopause and then again in menopause itself. Organic virgin coconut oil is a great natural alternative to conventional lubricants & very cost-effective. It is natural, antibacterial/antifungal and provides longer lasting moisture/slip than water-based lubricants. Coconut oil can penetrate into the deeper layers of your skin, strengthen the underlying tissues & help repair the little micro tears that occur in the walls of the vagina due to dryness. You can also massage a small amount into the vagina daily to help encourage your own natural lubrication.
- Medication – prescription medications can have undesirable side effects on your sexual health — antidepressants, blood pressure medication, pain relief, and chemotherapy are notorious libido killers. Even over-the-counter antihistamines may be a culprit. Ask your doctor if any of your medicines might be a hidden cause.
- Stay Warm! You are 30 percent more likely to experience orgasm if your feet are warm! Dutch scientists have done a study to prove it, but Chinese medicine has known all along that cold feet means poor circulation and poor circulation makes it harder to orgasm. If bed socks aren’t your thing perhaps start foreplay with a foot massage :0)
- Have Sex! Yes, surprise surprise – just do it!! Even if you don’t feel 100% in the mood, if you enjoy some foreplay you will more than likely “warm up” to the moment if you give it chance. A keyway to improve your sex life is to have sex. This reignites the energetic connection with your partner and releases hormones that heightens your sexual desire. Again, try to stay present, enjoy the connection and relax.
- Chinese Medicine – for centuries acupuncture and herbal medicine has been used to enhance libido and sexual function. Don’t worry, we no longer use animal products such as rhinoceros’ horn in our medicine! We recommend a course of treatment of weekly acupuncture for six weeks with a combination of herbs to get your mojo back.
If you have concerns about your libido or wish to improve your sexual function it may be worth considering acupuncture and/or Chinese herbal medicine. These simple lifestyle factors can sometimes be hard to incorporate, this is where your acupuncturist comes in. A consultation involves going into detail about all the aspects of your health including your sleep, diet and levels of physical activity and stress. Your acupuncturist will then provide you with dietary and exercise suggestions tailored to your body. To make an appointment you can call the clinic on (03) 5429 3610 or click on the link below to book online.
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