Lorraine: Dr Hilary talks about low libido
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Libido, or sex drive, fluctuates naturally over time and varies between individuals. Many internal and external factors can affect libido, and most people find that their inclination for sex declines with age. Certain medications can also affect sex drive, as well as health issues such as obesity and chronic illness. Other factors affecting libido include hormone changes, sleep patterns, mental health, relationship issues, exercise habits and stress.
Clarissa Berry, Nutritionist for DIRTEA, recommends eight natural ways to boost your libido.
Eat aphrodisiac foods
An aphrodisiac is something that is believed to boost sexual desire.
Clarissa said: “Some foods traditionally thought of as aphrodisiacs include oysters, chocolate, figs, watermelon, bananas, chilli peppers and pistachio nuts, truffles, and honey. Active components in these foods, along with important vitamins and minerals, can relax the body and mind, increase blood flow to the genitals, boost sex hormone and sperm production, or induce feelings of euphoria (that’s chocolate!).
“Feel free to experiment with what works for you, however most evidence of their effects is anecdotal rather than scientific.”
Take cordyceps mushroom powder
Cordyceps is a medicinal mushroom known as ‘natures Viagra’ that has been used for centuries in Traditional Chinese Medicine to boost energy and sexual vitality.
Clarissa explained: “While its aphrodisiac effects are more traditionally associated with males, recent studies have demonstrated its ability to enhance sexual desire and function in both males and females.
“In males, cordyceps can increase testosterone production, which improves sperm count, increases arousal, and can help with impotence, and it is known to enhance fertility in females.
“It’s important to find a high quality cordyceps supplement to optimise the concentration of active ingredients. Try DIRTEA’s Cordyceps extract powder (£29.99 from www.dirteaworld.com), which has a particularly high concentration of active components, made readily available for absorption by the body due to its dual extraction process. It tastes delicious mixed into hot water or can be added to your morning smoothie.”
Try maca root
Maca is a Peruvian root vegetable with fertility-enhancing and adaptogenic properties.
Clarissa advised: “Studies have begun to show its ability to improve libido, including in people whose sex drive is affected by SSRI antidepressants. Its method of action isn’t clear, although maca is rich in the amino acid argenine, which may favour testosterone production. Maca can also enhance mood and is a gentle hormone regulator in females with the potential to relieve symptoms of the menopause.”
Stick to one drink
A glass of wine can act as an aphrodisiac – it relaxes you and removes some inhibitions, which can help to get you in the mood, said Clarissa.
She added: “It also increases testosterone levels in females, which is linked to sexual arousal. However, too much alcohol has the opposite effect. More than a drink or two can reduce sexual performance and even inhibit orgasm.
“Alcohol also interferes with physiological arousal and makes it harder for females to get wet, which can make sex uncomfortable. In males it can affect your ability to get and maintain an erection. Over time, excessive alcohol use can lead to erectile dysfunction.”
Get a good night’s sleep
Poor sleep is linked to reduced sexual desire, particularly in women, said Clarissa.
She continued: “Not getting enough sleep can exacerbate stress, impact mental health and sap energy levels, all of which can affect libido. Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep and consider scheduling naps if you can’t get enough at night. You can also optimise your sleep quality by ensuring you sleep in a dark room, keeping your bedroom cool, avoiding screens for an hour before bedtime, drinking adaptogens such as reishi, taking regular exercise and practicing stress-relieving techniques.”
Manage stress and anxiety
While sex itself can be good way to relieve stress, stress can actually have an impact on sex drive.
Clarissa said: “An overly busy schedule without time to unwind can cause fatigue and reduced desire for sex. Anxiety can also affect libido and may make it more difficult for males to get and maintain an erection. Managing stress levels is one of the most important things we can all do for our overall health as well as our sex drive. Meditation, breathwork practices, a healthy diet, spending time with friends, improving relationships, time management and exploring therapy are examples of ways to help manage stress and anxiety.
“I also recommend DIRTEA’s Cacao Superblend, a healthy hot chocolate that contains the adaptogens reishi and ashwaghanda, designed to soothe stress and anxiety, elevate the mood and improve sleep quality.”
Exercise regularly, but not too much
Exercise can improve sex drive in several ways. Clarissa explained: “Regular exercise increases testosterone production, which can improve sperm count in males and sexual desire in both sexes. Exercise can also elevate mood and self-image, reduce stress, improve circulation, and enhance sexual performance, all of which can lead to increased libido. However, it’s important not to overdo it. Too much exercise can lead to exhaustion, depleting your sex drive.”
Explore your sexuality
Having better sexual experiences can lead to an increased desire for it, said Clarissa.
She recommended: “Talking about sex with your partner can help you to understand each other’s needs and desires. Self-pleasure can teach you about your own body, which will help you to express your own preferences. Exploring your sexuality and deepening your understanding of yourself and your partner can improve your sex drive and may also improve intimacy within your relationship.”
While these methods are generally considered safe, it is wise to consult a medical professional before taking a new supplement. If you are concerned about a change in your sex drive or any related health issue, please consult your doctor.
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