Our columnist explores the elusive nature of our libido
Sexual desire, also known as our libido, is a dynamic and changeable energy influenced by our biological or psychological status. A loss of libido is often associated with the menopause and whilst this is true, my experience as a practitioner working in women’s nutrition has shown me that our libido, or loss of it, is far more widespread and complex, affecting many women at varying stages in their life.
Although sexual desire may decline during hormonal shifts such as the menopause, sexual satisfaction does not. For some theorists, these stages of our life can amplify existing difficulties in relationships or psycho-sexual development independent of the influence of hormonal changes.
Stress, tiredness and depression can also have a profound effect on the strength of our sexual drive. These times in our life are not static and sometimes we simply need to surrender to the pace of our body, conserving energy for restoration.
The ayurvedic herb Ashwagandha is a traditional nerve tonic, helping to nourish the nervous system. Research has shown benefits in taking 500mg of KSM Ashwagandha for supporting symptoms of anxiety, stress and lowered libido over a period of eight weeks. The minerals magnesium and zinc and the vitamins B6 and B5 work on supporting the regulation of the adrenal glands but also the production of DHEA, a hormone precursor to testosterone.
Lowered levels of testosterone may adversely affect sexual desire, but many studies have disproven a link between low testosterone and sexual satisfaction. The influence, it seems, therefore, is more on quantity, not quality. Symptoms of hormonal change such as intimate dryness or soreness result from a decline in levels of oestrodial and may affect sexual activity.
Herbs including saw palmetto and gingko biloba have been successfully used to improve libido at an average dose of 200mg. These seem particularly effective when medication such as SSRI’s are adversely affecting libido.
Nourishing your body with foods that are rich in nutrients such as vitamin E, zinc, phyto-oestrogens, essential fatty acids, selenium and B vitamins can go a long way to enhancing your natural libido. Try to include as many of the following into your diet as you can:
Henrietta Norton is an established nutritional therapist, women’s health expert and founder of award-winning supplement brand Wild Nutrition
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