Feeling worried about sex, or rather,
your lack of interest in it? You’re not alone. Here’s how to understand this
modern phenomenon and relight your fire
Be honest - sometimes, sex can feel like
just another item on your to-do list. ‘Recent statistics from the Kinsey
Institute in the US suggest that our grandmothers had more sex than we do,’
says Nicci Talbot, author of Good Sex: A Couple’s Guide (Need2know, $14.9). Up
to half of women are thought to suffer from low libido. And the biggest cause?
Stress Killing Your Libido?
‘Lack of sex drive is extremely common
among my clients,’ says women’s nutritional health specialist Marilyn Glenville
(marilynglenville.com). ‘And it’s on the increase due to the stresses of modern
life work, family, money and relationship worries.’ The good news, she says, is
the problem can usually be solved by taking an informed approach.
So what’s the stress link?
Stress can act on your sex drive in several
ways. ‘Emotionally, if you’re overworked, tired or have relationship issues,
sex is not going to be a priority,’ says Talbot. ‘While men can often use sex
to de-stress, women need to feel everything’s right in order to fully relax and
can act on your sex drive in several ways.
‘Physically, if you’re stressed, you’ll
have higher levels of the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline,’ says
Glenville. ‘This messes with your body’s ability to produce the male hormones,
androgens, responsible for your sex drive. It’s also a survival mechanism. If
the body perceives you’re under threat (because levels of stress hormones are
high), it can “switch off” libido because it’s not a good time to get
The action plan
Try to address stress
OK, it’s easier said than done - we can’t
just quit work, solve our money problems or find more hours in the day. But
recognizing the hold stress has over your life is the first step to reducing
it. ‘Make time for you and whatever you find relaxing,’ says Talbot.
Rule out other reasons
‘Certain medical conditions, such as
depression and thyroid problems, can affect libido,’ says Glenville. ‘So can
medications such as antidepressants and the Pill.’ See your GP if you want to
rule these out. ‘Remember, too, that women’s hormones fluctuate (some women are
most aroused around ovulation, others pre-menstrual), during and post pregnancy
and with the menopause.
‘Stress hormones are released according to
your pattern of eating,’ says Glenville. ‘If you skip meals, or rely on sweet
treats and caffeine to pep you up, your blood-sugar levels will fluctuate. Not
only will this have a negative effect on your mood and energy, it’ll increase
cortisol levels, too.’ The solution? ‘Eat little and often, always have
breakfast, choose low-GI, wholegrain carbohydrates, and avoid sugary snacks and
drinks, and caffeine and alcohol,’ she says.
hormones are released according to your pattern of eating,’ says Glenville.
Get the right nutrients
B vitamins are important nutrients for a
healthy sex drive. These support mood and energy and are needed for making sex
hormones,’ says Glenville. ‘So is zinc, which also helps optimize blood flow to
the sex organs.’ Find both in meat, poultry, dairy, pulses, wholegrain and
nuts. ‘Also important is magnesium, nature’s tranquillizer, and omega-3
essential fatty acids, which help to lubricate all our soft tissues and are
also involved in the production of sex hormones. Taking them, along with a good
daily multivitamin and mineral complex or a female nutrient formulation, will
ensure you’re getting what you need.’
‘Exercise is a good way to release stress
hormones, so they don’t interfere with libido,’ says Glenville. It’s also a
natural antidepressant and proven to boost self-esteem, confidence and body
image. ‘Anything that lets you be in the moment and get in touch with your body
is good - such as yoga or dance,’ says Talbot.
is a good way to release stress hormones, so they don’t interfere with libido,’
‘Adapt genic herbs help the body adapt to
stress,’ explains Glenville. ‘They include Siberian ginseng, good for stress;
American ginseng, for energy and stamina, and Angus cactus, which helps
regulate the menstrual cycle and reduce PMS (don’t take it if you’re on the
Pill). Damiana is another herb that has been linked with improved sex drive in
women. And L-theanine is an amino acid proven to help reduce anxiety, which can
‘All the diet and supplements in the world
can’t help if the root cause of your stress and low libido is your
relationship,’ says Glenville. So don’t be shy about seeking therapy from a
service such as Relate (relate.org.uk) or the College of Sexual and
Relationship Therapists (cosrt.org.uk).
‘Often, the problem didn’t start as a
relationship issue, but becomes one because anger and resentment builds when
sex drives are mismatched,’ adds Talbot. ‘Remember, you can always try therapy
on your own at first.’
‘There’s an element of “use it or lose it”
when it comes to libido,’ says Talbot. ‘With your partner, take the focus off
sex and get back to kissing, massage and touch, and dates. And take a holiday
if you can. Then invest time in reawakening your sexuality by yourself. This
may involve reading erotica, watching films, buying new lingerie or toys,
fantasizing and masturbating more. You probably won’t feel like it at first,
but it’s a bit like exercise, you have to schedule it in and stick to it and
soon you’ll wonder why you don’t do it more often!
an element of “use it or lose it” when it comes to libido,’ says Talbot.