Optimizing Your Sex Drive:
Through Controlling Cortisol
Boosting sex drive is a topic that is all too common in clickbait fodder. It feels impossible to escape the articles and newsletters highlighting how food types, specific supplements, or general lifestyle tweaks can help boost sex drives and blast pleasure levels through the roof. The problem is, so many of these articles are neglecting to mention the hormonal factors within us that control the very basis of sex drive and desires.
We live busy lives! From long hours at work, and lack of sleep, to schedules that make finding time for exercise difficult, and not forgetting the simple daily emotional experiences we all go through we are burning the candle at both ends. That's not to mention the added effect of environmental toxins, food allergies or intolerances, and prescription pills can have on our bodies. These day to day experiences can often lead to setting our hormones well-off center - with one major hormone being a key culprit, the famous ‘stress hormone’, cortisol.
You may remember we have previously discussed cortisol and its effects on our energy levels and mental health. Cortisol is hormone produced in the adrenal glands which triggers the body to spring into action at times of stress. As mentioned above, our daily lives are becoming increasingly more stressed and even the slightest levels of strain can put our cortisol production into overdrive.
But how does cortisol mess with libido?
Well, cortisol is not the only hormone that is produced in our adrenal glands, many other hormones are also produced including our sex hormones. The danger however, is that when we are stressed, our adrenal glands go into hyperdrive to produce high levels of cortisol, in turn slowing down the production of our other necessary hormones such as our sex hormones. Unmanaged cortisol imbalances can lead to a number of issues beyond just low sex drive, such as problems with our mental health, fertility, and menstrual cycles.
If your sex drive enhancing hormones need some TLC there are a number of options to balance ones hormones and specifically cortisol production naturally.
Managing our outside stressors:
The Full 8 Hours - the cure for everything it seems, getting adequate sleep is important for overall health but we all know, actually getting a full 8 hours is easier said than done. However, getting a good night's sleep is imperative to helping balance out our hormones naturally, it’ll help reduce inflammation and in turn can increase libido.
Work Management - However daunting this may seem, finding some level of work life balance is key to managing stress. If you are finding yourself constantly having to work over-time, or are struggling with that overflowing inbox, consider a conversation with your manager. Happy employees are proven to produce far better results for companies and any good employer should care about their employees health, both emotional and physical.
Healthy Fun - We love a good cocktail here at Eden but some level of moderation should be considered if you find yourself at happy hour all too often. Try directing your activities with friends into a healthier direction - whether that be a fun hike (or a long stroll for our fellow city dwellers), signing up to try a new hobby or even just having a tasty dinner sans alcohol some nights of the week.
Exercise Right - We recently wrote an article on hormone health and exercise that goes into a whole lot more detail on this topic. To give a short overview, it's important you manage your exercise routines with cortisol in mind. A number of studies have shown that women who exercise had better sex hormone response than women who don’t. However, managing your exercise routine in a healthy way is vitally important. For those who enjoy high intensity training such as long distance running or weight training, make sure you take 24-48 hours to rest in between to allow cortisol levels to balance. Consider including low impact exercise into your routines such as yoga, mat pilates or barre, which provide a great workout whilst moderating cortisol levels.
Managing Internal Stressors:
What goes on inside our bodies can have as much effect on our cortisol levels as a never ending work day. Our diets, gut health, food intolerances, allergies and general environmental toxins can all have a detrimental impact on our libido.
Eat Smart - Making a real effort to cut out sugary or processed foods is hugely important to reducing inflammation within the body. Further, being aware of what intolerances you may have to certain foods is also imperative, inflammation can increase cortisol production, therefore affecting your body's ability to produce adequate sex hormones.
Supplement Wisely - A number of minerals, vitamins and botanicals can have a positive effect on libido. One key vitamin that the majority of us tend to be deficient in is Vitamin D - getting enough healthy sun exposure is a tricky task for office working and in many cases city dwelling. Vitamin D deficiency can directly cause low estrogen levels in women, which in turn leads to a lower sex drive. One should also consider a good range of probiotics, as mentioned above, food intolerances or prescription drugs can kill healthy gut bacteria, a good range of probiotics is important in supplementing this healthy bacteria to help reduce inflammation.
Nourishing your hormones and keeping your cortisol in check are vital for your overall health and wellness, no matter whether boosting your sex drive is the motivating factor or not. Remember, healthy hormones = happy hormones = happy you!