5. Physical Health - Sexponential
*Note: please consult your GP or sexual health clinic if you are experiencing issues with your physical health and your sex drive, I am not a medical professional so do take any resources or advice given here with a pinch of salt. Not literally either.* Your physical health is also a major factor in your libido. It took me the LONGEST time to realise this, but things like hormones, STD’s, hygiene, medication, amount of sleep, your period cycle, nutrition, illnesses and physical trauma (e.g. childbirth, surgeries) can all steal desire in different ways. Having a good basic biology is the foundation of a good sex drive, and understanding how even everyday factors like sleep and nutrition play a part in the thievery are part and parcel of having a good sex drive (and giving ourselves a break!). This can be one of the more difficult categories to address simply because our physical health is sometimes out of our control, and we might need outside medical advice or intervention to assist. However, there is huge overlap between our emotional, physical and sexual health and it seems that much of the advice out there relating to physical health problems are woven in with supporting our emotional health. So, without further ado, a list of the most common things that fall under physical health that can impact our sex drives, stories of people who’ve experienced them, and resources to help: Personal hygiene Hormones Sleep Pain during sex Exercise Changes in appearance Food/nutrition/health Illness Contraceptives STI/STDs Unwanted pregnancy Medication Physical trauma Scroll down to read more on how these factors can impact on your sex drive (and what I’ve done to overcome them): Personal Hygiene: This sounds totally bonkers- how is showering linked with my sex drive? But actually, poor personal hygiene is often linked with self-neglect and low self-esteem. If we don’t feel good within ourselves, we’re less likely to want to look good on the outside. And these can all have a negative impact on our libido. Read more in this blog post “Could having a shower boost your sex drive?” to understand more about the links between cleanliness and your libido. Hormones- Periods: these can have a HUGE impact on how horny you feel over your cycle. Read my article here on how tracking your period can provide insight into your libido. PMT/S: Equally, painful periods/ovulation and PMT might also be adding to your sex drive woes. PMDD: Everyone can feel differently during their cycle, and for some women they might experience premenstrual tension or PMDD (premenstrual dysphoric disorder). Pregnancy Breastfeeding: Here’s a link to a great article on The Cut about how breastfeeding can kill your libido. For many women it might be pain after childbirth, pain from breastfeeding, the hormones evoked from breastfeeding, or simple just being overstimulated by touch and wanting to be left alone! The Menopause Contraceptives: Contraceptives in general can play havoc with our hormones, and deserve a special category by themselves. The Mirena Coil: read this great #sexdrivestories by Sensual Delights. Sleep: Pain during sex: Any pain experienced during sex is a no-brainer as to why it shuts down your sex drive- because sex isn’t pleasurable! So it’s not wonder you don’t want it! Exercise: It sounds obvious right, but exercise really can help with a low libido that’s caused by stress and anxiety, as well as all the other benefits it provides. That’s because stress shuts down our sex drive as an evolutionary survival mechanism. And exercise works because it artificially tricks our bodies into believing we’ve out run the stressor and are now safe. Read more on that here. So exercise genuinely does work. But, it’s getting the motivation that’s hard! You can read here about how I run to improve my libido, and more about exercise and a low libido here. Changes in appearance Weight gain: So this felt a slightly controversial topic on here for me. Weight gain is often cited as the reason for a low libido in many resources you’ll find online. However it’s important to raise the distinction that just because a woman may have put on weight, or is a larger size than she used to be, this doesn’t correlate with a low sex drive. Rather, it’s about her perception of the weight gain. If she’s happy at this size- amazing! And there’s no reason for her sex drive to decrease. However, if she’s unhappy and her body confidence has fallen, THIS is the problem, not her dress size. Here’s an amazing article from The Sexperts Lounge stating just this. If this is you, I’d encourage you to check out the section of the site on self-love to find out more about how you can love your body whatever size you are. Food/health/nutrition: Nutrition: there are tons of articles about food and libido out there- apparently eating anything from broccoli to drinking “sex coffee” can help you boost your libido. Personally, I don’t believe that adding any one food will automatically raise your desire levels overnight. Rather, it’s consistently making healthier choices and learning to listen to your body and what it wants. There’s a great book called “The Goddess Revolution” which really helped me to understand the difference between cravings and hunger and how to listen to my body and what it needs which I’d really recommend! This is also a fab article about libido and gut health which recommends a more sustainable solution than chomping on some broccoli to boost your libido. Bloating: feeling bloated is the LEAST sexy feeling ever! What’s that distended tummy and full feeling all about? When you’d rather lie like a beached whale on the sofa and hear your trousers creak and moan and you move, sex is probably the last thing on your mind. You can read more about bloating and sex drives here, and I’d also recommend this post on the #Whole30 as a solution to the bloat! Illness: Endometryiosis Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS): Read this entry under our #sexdrivestories by Miss Jezebella about her experiences of PCOS and her sex drive. Arthritis Diabetes Cancer: Cancer Research UK has a short article on low libido and cancer effects/treatment. However I really liked this informative article by Cure Today which talks about libido as a recipe with many ingredients which acknowledges both emotional and physical side effects of diagnosis, treatment and aftercare. Under active thyroid STI/STDs Unwanted pregnancy Terminations: Miscarriage Medication: Antidepressants: this is a really great article on Buzzfeed with some really useful insights and advice on the interplay between depression and medication on libido as well as how to improve it. Physical trauma: Childbirth Surgery Sexual assault (this is categorised under the “emotional wellbeing” part of the site more generally, but it’s really important to cover here too because of the physical impacts of abuse and violence.) Please let me know if there’s anything I’ve missed that you’d love to see here! Love L xx *I’m looking for guest bloggers who might like to contribute to my #sexdrivestories campaign and break the silence around sex drives and physical health issues. Get in touch if you’d like to be involved