Are You More Like…. A Cruise Ship vs. a Speedboat -OR- A Crockpot vs. a Microwave?
In Rev Your “Engine" & Make It Purr we discussed the factors that contribute to a healthy metabolism which translates into TOTAL HEALTH. Remember that FIT + TRIM + BALANCE = TOTAL HEALTH. A person who is only fit or trim is not necessarily healthy. We covered several variables within each of these factors for TOTAL HEALTH:
- Quality of Calories
- Portion Control
- Carb Management & Metabolic Typing
- Variety Within Diet & Macronutrient Profiles
- Intermittent Fasting
- Interval Training
- Holistic Support for Endocrine Balance
Today we are going to explore more about endocrine balance and how to make your “engine” purr, specifically how to boost a low sex drive. Some of the greatest mysteries in life are those related to the differences between men and women. NOTE: I am really focusing on women here as I feel men are better equipped to address other men on this topic.
How many comical comparisons have you heard about the differences between men and women? How about Men Are From Mars & Women Are From Venus when it comes to communication between the sexes? Less common is the comparison between our brains: Men Are Like Waffles & Women Are Like Spaghetti because men tend toward compartmentalized thinking vs. women who have more of a capacity to multi-task. Finally, related to our sex drives, “Men are like microwaves & women are like crockpots.” I have created my own cliche for this: "Men are like speedboats & women are like crusieships." As frustrating as it may be at times, the libidos of men and women are rarely equal, and there is good reason for it, I believe. If men were like women who tend more toward being able to “take it or leave it,” the human race could be in jeopardy of extinction! And if women were like men, the human could quite possibly be in jeopardy all over again (think about elk when they are in the rut, eating very little in favor of mating until they are near death!) Did you know that orgasm in men releases the hormone dopamine ("The Pleasure Hormone"), which stimulates opiate receptors in the brain (centers for addiction) while women release oxytocin, referred to as “The Cuddle Hormone?” This is why men display a more addictive propensity toward sex while women feel bonded through sex. (1)
But why else are women often indifferent to sex? I don’t pretend to have all of the answers, but I have done enough research, talked with enough women and experienced enough of my own ups and downs in this area that I think I have a good grasp of the broad issues women face regarding libido and even orgasm. Because of how we are created, sex is more than a physical act. In fact, sex touches every aspect of our being: spiritually, emotionally, mentally, and physically. In this way, men and women are alike as a part of humankind.
Spiritual Fallout Can Affect Libido in Women
From a biblical perspective, sexual union within marriage between a man and a woman is a reflection of the divine union between Messiah and His Bride as well as the Oneness of G-d Himself. A man and a woman become “one flesh” through the act of sex, but it is more than an act of the physical flesh… they become one in spirit as well. While remaining two, distinct individuals, separate from one another, they are also joined as ONE BODY and ONE SOUL through marital sex. There is no closer union that can take place between two human beings, and I believe this is the reason that divorce and sex outside of marriage are so devastating to us as human beings. A part of our souls is inextricably glued to the soul of another through this most holy act, and separating the two from another is not without damage to both. So this leads us to the spiritual aspect of sex being the first factor for an impaired sex drive. Any number of spiritual issues, including guilt and memories from past sexual experiences, can interfere with libido today. The good news is that G-d is merciful, and He has designed our brains so they can be re-programmed so that women can be like speedboats and reach their "final destination" sexually.... orgasm!
The Emotional Aspect of Libido for Women
Dividing sexual issues into exclusive categories can be challenging since we are integrated, whole people. Where does a spiritual issue end and an emotional one begin? It is hard to say, but for the sake of this discussion, I am categorizing a willingness to sexually engage as emotional. This aspect is one way that makes women more like crockpots and men like microwaves. You have probably heard it said that “Sex begins in the kitchen,” and every woman I know will agree that the emotional tone in the home has a profound impact on libido. Women are much more willing to connect on a sexual level at the end of the day if their husbands have engaged them emotionally throughout the day, but if this is not the case in your home, I have some suggestions for you. I can identify with that woman out there who is tired at the end of the day. After rising early to meet the needs of our husbands and children, then continuing to care for little ones all day, whether homeschooling, potty training, breastfeeding or being the “mom taxi,” preparing meals, serving friends and neighbors, etc... Sometimes as women we simply feel like we have nothing more left to give. Crawling into bed exhausted from the day’s activities, it is not uncommon for women to just want some “me time,” and even being touched after a long day of giving and receiving physical touch from our children can be downright annoying. In fact, you may feel that your “needs” are best served through your own means such as reading a good book, watching TV or engaging in social media or a mindless game on an electronic device. But what about your husband’s needs? Yes, men have a sexual NEED, even a health need for sex, and believe it or not, so do you! Studies show that sex actually:
- Reduces your physiological age (2, 3)
- Burns calories (200 calories on average)
- Increases estrogen
- Prevents breast cancer (4)
- Reduces risk of death from heart attacks or strokes (5)
- Boosts immune function (6)
- Protects against prostate inflammation and cancer (7, 8)
- Prevents dementia (9)
In addition, I can speak from the perspective of G-d’s economy that if you set aside your own “needs” and die to your flesh, you will experience a miraculous blessing both personally and in your marriage. You will find that your husband is more likely to meet your emotional needs, and sex with your husband will fulfill your needs in a much deeper way than a video game on your phone or that book you don’t want to put down. And you will find that you anticipate and enjoy sex even more than you could have imagined possible. I have counseled many younger women to give it a try, and they all agree that it really works, so I challenge my female readers today: for one month be available to your husband in spite of how you feel at the end of the day, and let me know whether or not your marriage is transformed. I didn’t understand why at first, but because it worked, I referred to it as “G-d’s economy.” It is contrary to man’s economy and logic that says "take care of yourself first." And when you do give yourself unselfishly, ladies, do it with a cheerful heart, fully engaging and being attentive to your husband, knowing that you are loving him and caring for him as your own body! In this regard, it is a spiritual act of worship (I know, we were talking about the emotional aspect of sex, but like I said before, it is hard to categorize sometimes!)
Sex Drive & the Mind of a Woman
For women, a HUGE part of sexual satisfaction has to do with the mind. Because we are like spaghetti and can multi-task so well, our minds can be on a hundred other things during sex (including what's for dinner tomorrow), and few things can kill pleasure more quickly than a wandering mind! No wonder we are more like cruise ships.... without exercising control of our minds, we may never even leave port before our husbands have finished "the race!" It does take self-discipline to turn off our thoughts, but the reward is great! In addition to the benefits I listed in the emotional aspect of libido, sex reduces stress through the release of oxytocin and other endorphins which relieve pain (great remedy for headaches vs. using it as an excuse!) If you never reach climax, ladies, you are cheating yourself of these wonderful benefits! Another mental distraction is wondering what the children are doing or if they can hear you…… well, if they do, then they will know that Mom and Dad really love each other. And one day, they will want to have a marriage just like yours! Sounds crazy, but it’s true-- a healthy sex life is foundational to a healthy marriage which is the best gift you can give your children!
Physical Roadblocks to Sexual Enjoyment
Finally, the physical aspect of libido! In Rev Your “Engine” & Make It Purr I went into detail about how to balance blood sugar naturally as well as the importance of healthy adrenal and thyroid function for hormone balance and sex drive. According to clinical research, as many as 75% percent of women have hormonal disturbances contributing to low libido, and with our Standard American Diet, it is no surprise due to erratic swings in blood sugar caused by simple carbohydrates and processed foods. Blood sugar imbalances are directly linked to PCOS, thyroid dysfunction, endometriosis, and other endocrine imbalances that also affect libido and fertility. Balancing blood sugar and reducing inflammation (which is best done through stabilizing blood sugar) is large part of the overall solution. While hormone replacement therapy (HRT) may be necessary at times, without endocrine system support HRT is like filling a bucket without bothering to fix the hole in the bottom. Speaking of HRT, I only recommend bio-identical hormone therapy (BHRT). Loveland has two very capable experts that I recommend-- check out my Local Holistic Resources page for more information.
In addition to the adrenals and thyroid, the pituitary and hypothalamus play a key role in maintaining your groove. The combination of these glands is referred to as the HPTA Axis (Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Thyroid-Adrenal Axis), which MUST be functioning properly in order for hormones to be balanced! For instance, if stress is out of control and taxing the adrenals, then cortisol (a stress hormone) may “steal” pregnenolone (a sex hormone) to make more cortisol to deal with stress, then the body becomes short on DHEA, which trickles down into low estrogen, low testosterone, and low libido. A hormonal imbalance can sink your "boat," and long-term sex hormone impairment has shipwrecked many a marriage!
The hypothalamus gland sits at the top of the endocrine cascade and regulates the pituitary, which in turn regulates the adrenals and thyroid-- it is all connected, and if there is an imbalance in one organ, it will affect all other organs in the body.
Nutritional support for the hypothalamus includes:
- Red Raspberry Leaf
- Calcium (almonds, sardines, Brazil nuts, eggs, cultured dairy products)
- Hypothalamus PMG or Hypothalmex (Standard Process)
The pituitary is referred to as “The Master Gland” and signals the adrenals to produce sex hormones. It also produces oxytocin which is necessary for sexual arousal and performance. Nutritional support for the pituitary includes:
- Bee Pollen
- Trace Minerals
- Licorice Root
- Devil's Claw
- Master Gland & Nutri-Calm (Nature's Sunshine)
- Pituitrophin PMG (Standard Process)
Healthy fats are necessary for hormone synthesis. The main building block for hormones is cholesterol-- yes, we actually NEED cholesterol, and NO, cholesterol is NOT bad! Eating plenty of healthy fats will ensure that you have enough cholesterol for hormone synthesis. Wheat Germ Oil & Fat-Soluble Chlorophyll are excellent supplements for this purpose. Using the mitochondria of the cells in your body, the adrenals control the conversion of cholesterol into “The Mother Hormone” called Pregnenolone through two different pathways, which then converts to the rest of the sex hormones in the body:
Testosterone is one of the key players for sex drive in both men and women. It affects interest, arousal, sexual response, lubrication and orgasm. And many women just don’t have enough testosterone, especially after menopause when the adrenals take over for the ovaries in producing sex hormones, and the adrenals of most American women are already taxed without having to pump out additional hormones! Without adequate testosterone, the ability to reach arousal will be like the difference between a cruise ship and a speedboat-- very SLOW moving, if not impossible to reach the final "destination!" Sarsaparilla is an excellent testosterone booster for both men and women. Low testosterone is lethal to a healhty libido. With most women in America being estrogen dominant, mostly due to our SAD Diet, their progesterone levels drop which in turn leads to diminished testosterone levels. Zinc is a useful mineral found in beef which prevents the conversion of testosterone to estrogen, and it also aids in the production of progesterone. Magnesium is another vital mineral found in leafy greens and halibut that acts to increase your drive by locking testosterone in the blood versus allowing it to latch onto proteins.
While we're on the topic of estrogen and progesterone, let's talk about the role they play in boosting female mojo. Progesterone and estrogen work in opposition to one another and must be balanced so neither is in excess. This balance results in a balanced emotional state as well as optimal health-- excess estrogen is a known cause of breast, cervical and uterine cancers in women (Johns Hopkins, Cowan). An imbalance also contributes to an impaired sex drive. Remember how I mentioned earlier that a mysterious transformation takes place in a woman who willingly puts her husband's needs first? That she unexpectedly begins to anticipate and enjoy sex more than ever with her husband? Beyond the spiritual and emotional changes that I believe take place, her estrogen levels actually increase with more frequent sex! Pretty amazing, huh? Estrogen conveniently rises prior to ovulation, which increases a woman's desire for intimacy at just the right time for conception. And in addition to estrogen being important for maintainging your groove, it is also important for maintaining plump, youthful skin, vaginal lubrication (especially in menopause), as well as bladder control as we age. If you do struggle with vaginal dryness, Zestra may be a good option for you while you get hormonal balance sorted out. This product contains several aphrodisiac botanicals that increase blood flow and sensation in the genital regions. L-arginine is also beneficial for increased blood flow to these regions through the production of nitric oxide. Foods rich in this amino acid include garlic, nuts, dairy, meat and fish, but beware if you struggle with herpes-- L-arginine can promote an outbreak! Instead, opt for watermelon which contains citrulline and is purported to have a "Viagara-like effect" by relaxing blood vessels and allowing more flow for a stimulating effect. Another option may be the herb called Gotu Kola.
In addition to sex hormones, neurotransmitters and amino acids contribute to sexual arousal and enjoyment. Here are two of the important ones for a healthy libido, along with nutritional sources:
- Dopamine (made from L-tyrosine)-- fava beans, duck, chicken, ricotta cheese, oatmeal, mustard greens, edamame, dark chocolate, seaweed, wheat germ, pumpkin seeds, nuts
- Phenylethylamine (PEA)-- cocoa, hemp seed, and chocolate
Another option is libido boosting/ aphrodisiac herbs that you may want to give a try:
- Epimedium (Horny Goat Weed/ Grass)
- Chaste Tree (Vitex
- Licorice Root
- Gotu Kola
- And don't forget essential oils such as rose, cinnamon, sandalwood, patchouli, ylang ylang, jasmine, etc.
So, are you more like a crockpot or a microwave? A cruise ship or a speedboat? Do you have the desire but just can’t seem to warm up or get “there?” So, where should you start?
- Try supporting your HPTA Axis through the suggestions covered in this blog as well as in Rev Your “Engine” & Make It Purr. If you don’t see progress after several months, then
- Order a Female Hormone Panel to find out laboratory values for your sex hormones. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to do run an Adrenal Stress & Thyroid Panel as well
- Schedule a Holistic Health Assessment with me to see which supplements your body prefers to restore hormone balance-- there are so many options-- end the guesswork!
- Download End the Hormone Madness for even more information about how to balance your hormones naturally, including more suggestions for boosting your sex drive naturally
Did you find this information helpful? What questions do you still have? Comment below-- I’d love to hear from you!
L’chaim-- To Life!
3 Secrets of the Superyoung, Dr. David Weeks, head of age psychology at Royal Edinburgh Hospital. His studies found that loving, monogamous sex three times per week caused participants to look 10 years younger than those who do it less often.
4 Breakthrough, Suzanne Somers. Interview with Dr. Mahmoud reveals connection between sex and reduction in breast cancer.
5 Sexual intercourse and risk of ischaemic stroke and coronary heart disease: the Caerphilly study, J Epidemiol Community Health 2002;56:99-102 doi:10.1136/jech.56.2.99, S Ebrahim, M May, Y Ben Shlomo, P McCarron, S Frankel, J Yarnell, G Davey Smith; Queens University in Belfast.
6 Sexual frequency and salivary immunoglobulin A (IgA), Psychol Rep. 2004 Jun;94(3 Pt 1):839-44, Charnetski CJ & Brennan FX, Wilkes University Pennsylvania.
7 Does frequent ejaculation help ward off prostate cancer? Marc Garnick, M.D., Editor in Chief of Harvard Medical School’s Annual Report on Prostate Diseases
8 Does Sexual Activity Affect My Risk of Cancer? http://urology.jhu.edu/newsletter/prostate_cancer712.php, James Brady Buchanan Urological Institute, 2005