Is Your Thyroid Responsible?
As George Michael sang “Sex is natural, sex is good. Not everybody does it, but everybody should!” Of course, a healthy lifestyle includes a healthy sex life. Good sex feels fantastic, but it also contributes positively to overall health. A population study in 2018 drew a connection between an active sex life and longevity- meaning the more sex you have during your lifetime, the longer you could live. Also, we know that sex is really good for the brain as orgasms release feel good chemicals like dopamine, oxytocin, and prolactin. Like any good workout, sex can help boost immunity, lower blood pressure, and reduce stress. On an emotional level, sex can help one to be more expressive and communicative which strengthens the ability to bond. Such an important part of health, relationships, and connection need to be well taken care of just as you would address any other aspect of your wellness. However, for many, a low libido can stand in the way of feeling like the sex goddess you are.
It’s perfectly normal to occasionally not be in the mood but this is not necessarily the same thing as having a reduced libido. Low libido in women is clinically classified with a collection of symptoms such as a reduction of sexual desires and arousal, inability to orgasm, orgasm that is more difficult to achieve, pain or discomfort during intercourse, and diminished vaginal lubrication.
Just as a runny nose can be a symptom of the common cold, many of the symptoms of low libido can be linked to dysfunctions of the thyroid. The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland that is part of the endocrine system located in the throat. The thyroid and the hormones it produces play an important role in growth, metabolism, body temperature regulation, menstruation, ovulation, and bone density. In a sense, the thyroid sets the pace of the biological clock as its functions to ushers in menstruation, signals the onset of menopause, and manages reproductive function in between. Two main classifications of thyroid dysfunction are hypothyroid which is underactive, and hyperthyroid which is over-productive. According to the American Thyroid Association, “one in 8 women will develop a thyroid disorder in her lifetime”. A meta-analysis of clinical studies surveyed from 1978-2018 observed that 22-46% of women with hypothyroidism and 44-60% with hyperthyroidism exhibited symptoms of clinical sexual dysfunction. It thought that when hormonal conditions persist over a long period of time, the mechanisms of the nervous system (the part of your body that responds to sexual sensations) and the psychological responses to sexual stimulus are inhibited.
The good news is that in many cases if thyroid dysfunction is treated, symptoms of low libido can be improved or resolved completely. The tricky part here is that over 60% of people with thyroid challenges go undiagnosed. Further complicating the issue, many of the symptoms of depression such as low libido, weight loss or gain, and fatigue are shared with some symptoms of thyroid disorders. Therefore, if you are concerned or unhappy with your libido, consult a physician to review your symptoms and ask for a thyroid blood panel. A finger prick or simple blood draw can be the first step to getting your groove back.
There are several easy steps you can take to maintaining your thyroid health. Two of the most impactful risk factors for thyroid dysfunction are smoking and obesity. With this in mind, it’s smart to quit smoking and maintain a healthy weight. The mineral iodine is essential to nourish the thyroid so be sure to eat a lot of iodine-rich sources from the sea such as shellfish- known throughout history as a powerful aphrodisiac. Aquatic plants like seaweed and spirulina are also yummy ways to get in the iodine you need.
Lastly, if you feel like you’re stuck in a rut, invest some time in understanding and reevaluating your pleasure. Just because one technique doesn’t produce the same results as it used to, does not mean that a new method won’t be just as mind-blowing. Be patient with yourself and keep an open mind to new sensations. Do some solo exploration or guide a partner in the direction of what feels best for you. Remember, goddess, it’s good for your health!