Hormonal Health

A Cause of Low Sex Drive You Probably Don't Know About

Low Sex Hormone Binding Globulin

Sex Hormone Binding Globulin (SHBG) is a protein that is made in our liver and it has a very important function.

To explain it, let’s back up and talk about chemistry. You know that water and oil don’t mix. This is because they repel each other chemically. The same thing is true in our bodies. Our blood is water-based however our hormones, such as estrogen, testosterone, and progesterone, are actually fatty. They cannot float around in our bloodstream very well on their own. Because of this, they need to be carried around by a protein.

SHBG is the protein that carries around estrogen, testosterone, and DHT, another form of testosterone. Think of SHBG like a car that allows the hormones to go on the highway system of our bodies, our blood vessels. When hormones like testosterone are bound to this protein, they don’t have any action on the body. Only hormones that are out of a car, a pedestrian if you will, are able to affect the body in some way. We call these hormones Free Hormones, such as free testosterone.


If SHBG is elevated, that is like having many cars on the road and subsequently very few pedestrians walking around. Let’s take testosterone as an example. If SHBG is high, there is more testosterone in the cars (SHBG) than there are free pedestrians (free testosterone) walking around. Because of this, our body behaves as if there is not a lot of testosterone present at all. It causes a “false” low testosterone. This can greatly impact libido because testosterone is needed for a healthy sex drive, in women as well as in men.

So what causes this little protein carrier to go up? Well, there are a few causes.

1) High Estrogen

Elevated estrogen is one of those causes. We make estrogen naturally each cycle, and we want enough of this hormone to feel energized, have healthy bones, build the lining of our uterus to have a baby, and look and feel like a woman. However, it can become too high for various reasons. One of those reasons is probably in your bathroom cabinet right now. High estrogen can come in from outside of your body through the various products you use that contain xenoestrogens. These are chemicals that mimic our natural hormones and contribute to the overall high load in our systems. If you haven’t been conscious about checking your lotions, sunscreens, face washes, shampoos, makeup, deodorant, or laundry detergent, you are probably being exposed to a plethora of xenoestrogens and other hormone disrupting chemicals.

Click here for my guide on safer personal care products and my favorites I use every day!

2) Birth Control

Birth control can be great for many reasons, especially when it comes to allowing us to choose when we want to become pregnant. However, hormonal birth control also has many unwanted side effects and can impact our bodies long after we stop the pill, patch, or ring. Because they contain synthetic estrogens, they can impact our liver in a negative way, and this is where SHBG is made. This can result in a high SHBG which will bind up all of your testosterone and libido loving hormones, dropping your sexual desire significantly. Unfortunately, this elevation in SHBG can continue even after you discontinue the pill, which is why some women suffer with low libido even years after stopping it.

If you are on birth control, it is important to take extra nutrients in addition to what you are eating as the pill has been shown to deplete some really important vitamins and minerals that our bodies, in particular our livers, need to function. You can also take herbs that help to protect your liver, such as Milk thistle.

I am working with an amazing team to develop the best birth control support supplement on the market, but until it comes out, I recommend the OC Companion formula by Vitanica. You can find it at a discount at my online pharmacy Fullscript.

3) Undernourishment

Not eating enough is another cause of elevated SHBG!

In this “gluten-free, dairy-free, sugar-free, intermittent fasting, low carb, low protein, eat as little as you can but still drink your coffee every morning and be stressed at your job” world that we live in these days, we are often not getting enough calories or nutrient dense foods to sustain our basic health, let alone enough for our libidos to thrive.

SHBG goes up when we are not getting enough nutrients, so if you want to thrive in the bedroom, you need to thrive in the kitchen! It’s so important to focus on a whole-food well balanced diet. You want to eat plenty of plants including root veggies and all the green and colorful veggies and fruits. Healthy protein is an absolute MUST whether it is plant or animal derived. And having plenty of healthy fat, especially omega 3 fats from fish or algae, and healthy oils such as olive oil are essential for optimal nutrition.

For a full guide on what and how to eat including cooking videos and lifestyle detox, send us an email and let us know you’re interested in our Food is the Foundation Course!

If you are curious about your level of SHBG, this is a simple test a doctor could run for you. I suggest also checking your other sex hormones including free and total testosterone, estrogen, DHEA, and progesterone.

If you are curious about working with me, you can schedule a free 15 min consult and I would be happy to see if we would be a good fit for us to work together on your hormones, libido, or digestion!

3 Ways to Increase Low Testosterone Naturally

Low testosterone is one of the hormonal root causes of low sex drive, or low libido. If you are interested in other hormones involved, check out my post: 3 Hormonal Causes of Low Sex Drive

Testosterone is not exclusive to males only. In fact, we as women need enough testosterone for our muscle, bone, heart AND sexual health! If your testosterone is low, sex may not even be on your mind. But if it is and you want some natural lifestyle practices that can boost it, read on, my dear!

1) Exercise

Exercise is key when it comes to testosterone. In the exercise world, lifting weights using your large muscle groups such as your thighs, back, chest, and arms is one of the best ways to increase your testosterone naturally. You do not need to become a body builder or go to the extremes of what you may see at the gym, but any sort of heavy lifting for us women is not only great for our testosterone and libido, it’s amazing for our bone health, too!

So, in addition to your yoga, barre, or pilates practice, consider learning some proper and safe lifting techniques and go push, pull, lift, and squat so you are ready to go in the bedroom in more ways than one!

2) Reduce Stress

Many of us know that stress is one of the biggest killers of almost all things when it comes to our health. However, testosterone and our libido are extremely susceptible to this vague thing we all experience the majority of our days. When we are stressed we release a hormone called cortisol and this has been shown to affect our blood sugar, it can make us feel on edge, anxious and jittery, and it reduces testosterone!

For simple stress reduction, make sure the following practices are happening your life:

  • Sleep at least 7-8 hours a night without your phone in your bedroom. The frequencies our phones give off that allow us to access the internet and talk to whoever we want whenever we want also disrupt our sleep and our health. I recommend placing it in the hall or the other room for it to charge at night. You can put the ringer on loud if you have anxiety about a loved one or you need it as an alarm, but I encourage you to practice detachment from your phone each night. It will be ok out there…I promise.

  • Consider meditation, daily breathing, qigong, or another mindfulness technique. Check out Insight Timer as a free and awesome app that allows you to have a mindfulness practice even in your busy life!

  • Practice saying no so that you can say yes your LIBIDO and your sex life! Every time we say yes to something, we are saying no to something else. As women, we often feel we can do everything and be everything for everyone, however, we are the ones who suffer in that equation. I encourage you to tap into what you REALLY want and only say yes to things that make your heart sing. You may be tempted to say yes to planning that party even though you don’t really want to, or yes to your boss’s unreasonable requests, or to driving the carpool…again. But when you say yes to them, you are saying no to time for yourself, time for you and your partner, and your sex life. Say YES to SEX instead!

3) Eat a whole food, balanced diet

  • Eating regular, well balanced meals with adequate protein and nutrient-dense carbohydrates to help stabilize your blood sugar is one of the simplest and most impactful things you can do! Crashes in blood sugar are one of the main sources of unnecessary stress and it wrecks havoc on our hormones.

  • All three macronutrients including protein, carbohydrates, and fats are associated with increasing testosterone, so having them in a balanced meal, every day is a sure-fire way to increase your testosterone and your libido!

  • For a step by step guidance on how to eat, what to eat, and how to cook simple and delicious whole-food meals, join the Tribe Reset Program for a two week course on eating clean and detoxing your body and your life!

3 Hormonal Causes of Low Sex Drive

“I just want to want it!”…. I hear you honey! I get it! It is so discouraging, sad, and incredibly frustrating at times when you want to have sexual desire and you just don’t!

When it comes to sex there are two main areas to talk about, one is desire and one is arousal. Arousal is the body’s ability to actually become stimulated and have a positive sexual experience, such as an orgasm. The other is having the desire to actually engage in sex in the first place. This is what I mean when I say sex drive or libido.

When it comes to libido, we are all unique beings with different desires, physiology, cultures, experiences, and quirks. To say it simply, sexual desire is incredibly complex. However, given my extensive experience with this personally and in practice, I have found three main overarching root-cause categories to explain low libido in women. These are hormonal imbalances, relationship imbalances, and negative neurological programing. Let’s dive into the hormonal aspect!

1) Low Testosterone

Testosterone is a hormone that is made in men and women but we often associate it with classic “male'“ characteristics. In addition to playing a role in sexual desire, it also helps us build muscle and is important for bone and brain health.

When testosterone is too high, it can cause aggression, acne, or unwanted hair growth, even in women. This is often the case in a condition called polycystic ovarian syndrome or PCOS. If testosterone is too low, you can have little to no desire for sex, which is no fun for anyone! As with most things in the body, we want a Goldilocks balance: not too much and not too little.

To learn more about the reasons for low testosterone and what you can do about it, check out my post: 3 Ways to Increase Low Testosterone Naturally

2) Low DHEA

DHEA, stands for dehydroepiandrosterone, and it is a hormone that is made by your adrenal glands, two little bean-sized organs that sit on top of your kidneys. Your adrenal glands are where your stress hormones cortisol and epinephrine are made, as well as some of your sex hormones such as testosterone and estrogen. Unlike the sex hormones that are also made in the ovaries, DHEA is primarily only made in the adrenal glands. It in itself is a helpful hormone and it can also be used to make the other sex hormones.

When we are chronically stressed the output of DHEA goes down. This impacts our libido because DHEA, like testosterone, is a major sex drive hormone. In addition to sex drive, DHEA is helpful in preventing the effects of aging, it is important for vaginal dryness and atrophy, bone health, and mood!

3) High Prolactin

Prolactin is a hormone that our brain makes in an area called the pituitary gland. It is most well known for being the lactation or breastfeeding hormone. This hormone is elevated after birth and this is what prevents women from becoming pregnant right after having a baby. It does this by inhibiting or reducing our normal sex hormones that normally help us to become pregnant.

In a non-breastfeeding person, this should not be elevated, however I see it functionally high often in my practice in women who have never even been pregnant. This reduction in hormones doesn’t help our libido, however, and it can often be a big part of the problem.

Some of the reasons for high prolactin are stress, low vitamin B6, low thyroid function, excessive cannabis use, or low dopamine, the neurotransmitter in our brains that is associated with pleasure, reward, and addictive behavior.

When it comes to sexual desire, it can be very complex and complicated; I know from experience both personally and in treating my patients. If you are struggling with low libido, it is worth ruling out any physical causes such as these hormonal imbalances. Many of these hormones can be checked in simple blood tests with your doctor.

If you are interested in working with me directly, you can schedule a free 15 min call here.