Sex Drive

Why Romance Novels May Increase Your Sex Drive

Are you struggling with low libido or low sex drive?

Are you reading romance novels? If not, you probably should be.

When it comes to sex drive, most women need more build up than what they are getting.

If you don't wake up ready to have sex or feel desire as soon as you think about sex, you probably have what is called responsive rather than spontaneous desire. This does not mean you are broken, the majority of women have responsive desire when it comes to libido.

Responsive versus Spontaneous Desire

Responsive desire means that you need to be stimulated in some way, either physically, such as through foreplay, or mentally. My thoughts on foreplay are too extensive to go into here, so let’s stick with the mental component, which for many of us is 90% of it. Mental stimulation is a huge necessity for most women, and the major thing getting in the way of this is....our lives.

Stress and the overwhelm of our lives is often having the opposite effect on our sex drive. Our minds are going a million miles a minute and sex is often the last thing on it. Even if we try to have a night of sex with our partner, the shopping list for tomorrow or the conversation you had with Susan the day before is often competing for your attention the entire time.

Reading or exposing ourselves to romance, erotica, or sexual stories helps us out in two ways:

It Helps our Minds Focus on Sex

Sex is actually a very mindful act and it requires a lot of focused attention. The ultimate goal is to be incredibly present in the moment, aware of every little touch and sensation. However, if you aren’t an avid meditator and you find it hard to focus during sex, you can focus on a sexual story or fantasy to hold your mind’s attention. At least what you are focusing on is in the realm of sex and not in the grocery store. The more you can meditate and practice mindfulness the easier it will be to be present. However, holding fantasies derived from romance novels in your mind is a great stepping stone. It’s a practice, just like meditation. And just like meditation, it gets easier over time.

Side note: If you have been waiting for a good reason to start meditating, this may be a good time to start ;)

It Helps in Building Up Sexual Tension

For women with responsive desire patterns, having great sex often means that we need to put ourselves into situations to help foster or build up the sexual experience, even if we don’t feel like having sex in that exact moment. This is the build up we often get early on in relationships when we are anticipating a date or when our partner may kiss us. When we are in a long-term relationship, this novelty and tension can be harder to find, and it takes more of a conscious effort to create situations that foster this.

Putting our mind in a sexual story or fantasy helps to turn on the sexual parts of our brains and this helps to lay down and reaffirm those specific neural networks that help to foster sexual desire. For many of us, we don’t even know what kind of sexual fantasy we enjoy, and we may not have the imagination to think up something on our own. Not yet at least.

This is where romance or erotica novels come in. One very practical way we can foster the feminine and get our heads into the sex game is by reading these books. The actual act of doing this helps with our sexual desire. It also gives us ideas and situations that we can take into our daily lives when our noses are not in the pages of these books. This could be fantasizing during the day or in the shower before we “want” to have sex, even if we don’t necessarily want to have sex in that exact moment. It can help us get prepped for it, initiating that responsive desire inside of us.

Reading romance and erotica also plays into a very important part of sexual desire: mystery. The act of not knowing what is going to happen is very exciting to us sexually, and reading a book or watching a movie with a complex storyline aside from merely the physical act of sex is a great way to experience sexual mystery. It can help add that element of excitement that may be lacking in your current relationship and it can give you ideas of how to bring that spark back with your real life partner so you can create your own romance story together.

Does it have to be books?

Watching great romance or erotica movies is definitely an option, however in my opinion there aren't a lot of great ones out there. The porn industry is often dominated by visually stimulating fictitious “male fantasy” driven sexual scenarios that many women do not find tasteful or enjoyable. According to one of the lead educators at Porn Hub, one of the most searched terms on their site is “porn for women.” Unfortunately, there’s not a lot of porn that women actually enjoy. Aside from Fifty Shades of Grey, which isn’t necessarily everyone’s cup of tea, there just isn’t a lot of great visual forms of erotica for women and our unique sexual desires.

The industry that IS catering to our needs is the romance novel industry. And this isn’t a tiny book section. The romance fiction industry is worth $1.08 billion dollars a year, which makes it about a third larger than the inspirational book industry, and about the size of the mystery novel genre and science fiction/fantasy genre markets combined. The Fifty Shades of Grey and Outlander series, two of the top romance series right now, were books before they were films.

So until Hollywood catches up with our sexual fantasy demands, I recommend reading romance novels or exploring the new genre of audio sexual stories. New companies such as Dipsea are creating apps with short stories for those who don’t enjoy reading.

I personally enjoy the novels because it spreads out the anticipation and story building, but I think it’s great that other avenues of consuming romance and erotica are popping up.

What Do I Recommend?

When it comes to romance and erotica, there are all types of genres and styles. All of our desires and fantasies are different as well. I recommend you start exploring and see what you like. Used book stores are a great place to go as they are often packed with romance novels and they are inexpensive. I personally like historical romance novels set in the 18th and 19th century, similar to the Outlander series.

As I write this blog post I am in Scotland and I feel like I am living out a real life Outlander fantasy. For those of you who don’t know, Outlander is a romance, time travel, and adventure book series written by Diana Gabaldon based in the Highlands of Scotland around the Jacobite uprising. It was turned into a Starz series as well. Another historical fiction romance author I like is Nicole Jordan.

Word of caution when it comes to romance: just ignore the cover art...I recognize most romance novel covers are incredibly cheezey! Don’t judge the book by its cover!

So, before you go to bed, grab a fun romance novel, read a little bit each night, and maybe you will wake up wanting to do more than just go back to sleep.

Wishing you pleasure in your reading adventures!

Dr. Gordon

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!