“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.
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.