Low Sex Drive? How to Maintain a Healthy Libido for Women (updated for 2019)
What is Sex Drive or Libido?
Sex drive is the urge to engage in sexual activity.
Libido in women is dictated by two main physical influences: a) hormones like estrogen, testosterone and oxytocin and b) brain chemicals called neurotransmitters like dopamine.
What Causes Low Libido in Women?
- Birth Control Pills
- Vitamin or mineral deficiencies
- Being underweight
A significant sign of hormone imbalance is a lack of ovulation or anovulation. Ovulation increases libido because there is a biological urge to reproduce when a woman ovulates. Women often find their libido drops while on the birth control pill because the pill is suppressing ovulation.
For women who aren’t on the pill the solution to a low libido because of anovulation is to determine why ovulation isn’t happening and address that.
One way to try to balance hormones for successful ovulation is to keep your blood sugar level balanced. Spikes in blood sugar can cause hormone imbalances that contribute to anovulation.
At menopause, the ovaries stop releasing eggs or ovulating. The lack of ovulation causes low libido after menopause. Because the ovaries are no longer working, the level of testosterone in your body drops.
Can libido return after menopause?
Your libido may not return to pre-menopause levels, but you can still maintain a healthy post-menopause libido. This depends on many of the same factors as before menopause: reducing stress, maintaining a close relationship with your partner, staying at a healthy weight and eating a whole foods, nutrient-dense diet.
Emotional Reasons for Low Libido
Emotional reasons such as stress, feeling overwhelmed, lack of intimacy or feeling disconnected from her partner can cause low libido for women too. Fostering emotional connection takes time and effort for both partners.
7 Ways to Increase Intimacy
Here are some tips to foster a sense of closeness and bonding that can help restore intimacy in a relationship.
- Make time for togetherness
- Try something new together
- Undertake a project or volunteer together
- Disconnect from devices every evening
- Take a trip. Getting away from it all and relaxing can do wonders.
- Cheer on your favourite team. Men aren’t the only ones who can bond over sports.
- Talk to each other about things that really matter.
Herbs for Libido in Women
Certain libido supplements contain herbs that are used to directly improve libido for women include Damiana, Malaysian Ginseng (Tongkat Ali) and Tribulus.
Damiana (Turnera diffusa) is one of the most highly appreciated plant aphrodisiacs.
Tribulus is known to increase free and total testosterone which can help with libido, particularly in menopausal women. Because it increases testosterone, Tribulus may not be suitable for women with PCOS.
Properly standardized water extracts of Tongkat Ali are also known to stimulate the release of free testosterone, improve libido, reduce fatigue, and improve well-being.
Indirectly, vitamins and minerals that nourish the endocrine system like B vitamins, magnesium, zinc and selenium may help restore healthy hormone levels and boost libido.
Foods that May Boost Libido for Women
Because they are a rich source of tyrosine for dopamine production, the following foods may positively affect libido: soybeans, beef, lamb, pork, fish, chicken, nuts, seeds, eggs, and beans.
Protein-rich foods are also stabilizing for blood sugar which helps maintain hormone balance.
Foods that are rich sources of vitamins and minerals that nourish the endocrine system (B vitamins, magnesium, zinc, and selenium) include kelp, Brazil nuts, shellfish, beef, and dark green leafy vegetables.
What about the old standbys like oysters and chocolate? Well, these may help because oysters are a rich source of zinc and chocolate is abundant in magnesium. Everyone knows that the way to a girl’s heart is through chocolate.
Authored by Naturopath Dr. Pamela Frank, BSc(Hons), ND
J Ethnopharmacol. 2014 Mar 28;152(3):424-43. doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2014.01.019. Epub 2014 Jan 24.
Ethnobotany, phytochemistry, and bioactivity of the genus Turnera (Passifloraceae) with a focus on damiana–Turnera diffusa.
Szewczyk K, Zidorn C2.
Menopause. 2016 Nov;23(11):1252-1256.
Efficacy of Tribulus terrestris for the treatment of hypoactive sexual desire disorder in postmenopausal women: a randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled trial.
de Souza KZ, Vale FB, Geber S.
J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2013 May 26;10(1):28. doi: 10.1186/1550-2783-10-28.
Effect of Tongkat Ali on stress hormones and psychological mood state in moderately stressed subjects.
Talbott SM, Talbott JA, George A, Pugh M.