Getting your bounce back is possible. Low libido has many causes ranging from low testosterone or iron to body image dysmorphia, chronic stress, and hormone imbalance.
The DUTCH Hormone Panel
Functional lab testing is thorough and shows what’s really going on. Hormone health can be complex. I see so many patients who are at the end of their rope. Why am I so tired? What makes my period heavy or irregular? My doctor wants to put me on the birth control pill and an anti-depressant. Is there anything else I can do? I want a natural approach. I don’t feel heard.
The Dutch test is different than the adrenals stress index and saliva tests that are typically done. Its the most comprehensive in that we see both the total and active forms of cortisol which can indicate patterns of metabolic or thyroid disease. We also see all the sex hormone metabolites which is helpful for treating and preventing a number of hormonal imbalances including PCOS, painful periods, irregular cycles, and yes: low libido.
Stress is Primary
Low libido and other hormone imbalances are likely to occur when stress is too high for too long. Cortisol is upstream of all of these other hormones.
Nutrient imbalances are another cause. Iron deficiency and other types of anemia play a role in low libido. Basic survival needs have to be covered in order for us to have the energy for sex. This makes sense from an evolutionary perspective because having children when there is famine or the threat of predators and war is not ideal. For many people today their physiology is telling them they are in a time of threat when in fact they have a shelter, food, and loved ones around. This can be due to trauma, gut infections, overwork or a difficult relationship. Recent research looked at the effects of being in a relationship that is not healthy. This situation actually affects the gut microbiome negatively as well as the mood.
Four Triggers to Keep in Check
- Perceived stress: new, unpredictable & individual based on past experience, belief systems. Some new and unpredictable stress can be exciting. It can help us expand and grow but too much is not good.
- Inflammation: purely a physiological thing which adds to our allostatic load or what we can handle.
- Blood sugar dysregulation: which is an epidemic in our country, and also physiological.
- Circadian disruption: too much exposure to artificial light at night and not enough exposure to natural light during the day. It’s only in the last 150 years where we’ve had significant amounts of light at night.
Pleasure and Play
Saying “no” and building in more downtime are great ways to manage stress and kick your libido into gear. The more we allow ourselves to do things we enjoy the more we wire our bodies for pleasure. Things like a meditation practice, yoga, deep relaxation or any other way you know to connect with your body are great. When we get real rest (meaning away from screens) then we have more energy to move, have fun and socialize. These are key for a full and happy life.