Each month, Yahoo Health’s Hormone Whisperer Alisa Vitti, HHC, is answering the most common questions about hormones and how they relate to weight, sex, acne, bad moods, low energy, and everything in between.
THE QUESTION: My sex drive is in park. How can I jump-start it?
ALISA’S ANSWER: My favorite things to talk about are science, sex, and power — and how, for women, hormones are the magical key to unlocking all potential. So, dear reader, this question is a great place for me, Yahoo Health’s Hormone Whisperer, to start.
Before I answer the question, I want us to get to know each other really well. I’m a total geek when it comes to hormonal biochemistry, functional nutrition, endocrinology, epigenetics, and neuropsychology. I’ve spent the past 15 years studying, researching, personally applying, and globally teaching how to stop hormonal chaos and get into hormonal flow. I built a cool health company that takes care of women’s hormonal issues online called FLO Living, published a book called WomanCode, and presented on Dr. Oz, Summit, Google, and TEDx. While I’m super science-minded, I’m also totally irreverent, and have been known to drop F-bombs on stage in excitement from looking at the breathtakingly genius design of a kidney. I’m also known to do rituals on the new and full moon, and wear tight, black dresses with colorful aprons in my kitchen — all with my baby girl on my hip and my Italian grandmother’s olive-wood spoon in hand.
But I’m not just a sometimes-potty-mouthed, curvaceous, home-cooking, first-generation sexy mama, functional nutritionist, and hormone super-nerd — I also had a major hormonal breakdown that changed my life while I was a 20-year-old student at Johns Hopkins University. (You can learn more about that by watching my TEDx talk.) In this new column, I’ll answer your questions about why your body and hormones are driving you crazy and what you can do naturally to get them to behave. Armed with science, let’s end the quiet suffering we think we are meant to endure, and get you back into what I like to call hormonal “FLO.” You don’t have to be a victim to these allegedly mysterious hormones — you can leverage them to get everything you want out of life.
OK — now back to the question!
With 50 Shades of Grey about to hit the silver screen, we’ll all be thinking a bit more about sex beyond the usual Valentine’s day swooning. Sadly, with all the hot sex scenes in store, some of us still might be left feeling cold.
Low libido is not just your mother’s problem anymore. With stress and diet disrupting hormonal flow, an increasing number of younger women are finding themselves either uninterested in sex or sub-responsive to stimulation. Either scenario is a big bummer!
Related: Why Women Are Giving Up The Pill
More and more women coming to my virtual center are reporting that their sex drive barely exists whether they are single or coupled, with or without kids. Having no to low libido is a common symptom that sometimes stands on its own, but more often than not is accompanied by other factors: fertility struggles, menstrual difficulties, adrenal fatigue, and/or low energy.
The FLO Science: The Cause Of Your Sluggish Sex Drive
As I see it, there are three reasons your sex drive is stalled:
- Micronutrients: Not eating enough of the right foods with protein, carbohydrates, and fats puts your entire hormonal system in a suboptimal state. If you are chronically on a diet or detox, you may be cutting your sex drive off at the knees. There’s a reason why men associate sex appeal to a woman with curves. The presence of curves means you have enough nutrition left over for your sex drive! Without proper foods, you won’t be making enough testosterone, dopamine, estrogen, and progesterone to put you in prime biochemical position to either be in the mood or to have quality orgasms.
- Medications: If you’re on the Pill, antidepressants, or another medication, these could be important factors when it comes to your sex drive and your hormonal balance — as very often a side effect is the decrease in sexual desire. Talk to your doctor about this, and partner with other practitioners to find the right kind of support and possibly wean off what is not necessary.
- Mindset: Getting turned on is not as simple as pushing a button. The fear- and anxiety-producing part of the brain — the amygdala — needs to be turned off in order for a woman to get turned on. It requires turning off the worrywart circuits in the female brain to have an orgasm. Too much stress and too much demand on your mental and physical energy results in the depletion of your poor little adrenal glands, the powerhouse glands that are responsible for the output of your stress hormones and most of your testosterone, which is where that desire for sex comes from. Increased output of stress hormones means decreased output of juicy sex hormones. You do the math.
The FLO Fix: 7 Ways To Naturally Boost Your Libido
Now that you’ve identified what might be causing your low sex drive, let’s talk about practical tools you can begin using now to get your sexy back.
- Support your adrenal glands. If you’re facing a demanding work schedule, you’ll need to take extra good care of your body, particularly your adrenal glands. Vitamin B5, Ashwagandha, and Rhodiola are my favorite adrenal support supplements. And food-wise, the adrenals love sea veggies, black beans, sesame seeds, and sunflower seeds..
- Take N-Acetyl Cysteine. It’s the precursor to glutathione, which is the mother of all antioxidants, and will help your intestines recover from the Pill’s inflammatory and micronutrient-depleting side effects, as well as help you manufacture more nitric oxide. Nitric oxide is the chemical secreted during orgasmic plateau and post climax, although more is secreted during orgasmic plateau (check out this article for more), and will help you have stronger orgasms!
- Prioritize your pleasure. Adding pleasure to your day in simple, non-sexual ways can greatly improve your ability to feel pleasure in the bedroom. Try bringing flowers to your desk or playing music you love during your morning commute. Indulge in body lotions or perfumes (organic, of course!) that make you feel beautiful. Get regular massages. All of these things can help decrease stress hormones and improve your receptivity for and attention to pleasurable experiences.
- Take more time to get to your climax. The hormones secreted during the orgasmic plateau phase (before climax) will actually improve overall endocrine function and hormone balance — helping to heal your stressed-out adrenals and even decrease libido-crushing mood swings during PMS. This means using your vibrator less and using your lube more.
- Meditate. Just learning how to disengage from your “inner worrier” can help you tune in to your inner warrior sex goddess!
- Do some hip circles. Spending time seated all day causes the blood to stagnate in the pelvic area — not good! Get up every hour from your desk and do 20 seconds’ worth of hip circles before getting back to work. You’ll replenish this area with oxygen and your bigger orgasm will await.
- Eat kale! Too much estrogen makes us not in the mood — but kale can help bring those elevated levels down. Gobble up those greens, help your body metabolize and excrete estrogen more efficiently, and get your mojo back.
Related: Eat Your Way To A Better Sex Life
Good things come in threes: I want to hear from you in the comments!
First, tell me what you’re going to try from my prescription above, and why.
Second, what are your top health questions for me, your trusty Hormone Whisperer? Your question could be featured in my column!
Third, everyone you know is hormonal: Spread a little good ovary karma and share this article with your friends on social media, and be sure to follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.
Need more hormone help? If you’re “not in the mood” all that often, it’s time you started looking into what’s going on with your hormones. I’ve designed a quiz to help you understand exactly what’s out of whack and how you can start getting back to balance so your sex drive no longer has to suffer. Sign up for it here.
ABOUT ALISA: Alisa Vitti, HHC, is an integrative nutritionist who teaches women how to use their hormonal and neurochemical patterns to create extraordinary lives. She is the best-selling author of WomanCode and the founder of FLOLiving.com, a venture-backed virtual health center that supports women’s hormonal and reproductive health. A graduate of Johns Hopkins University and the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, she is the creator of the WomanCode System, a one-of-a-kind online learning and support program for women in their 20s, 30s, and 40s who want to eliminate period problems, get pregnant naturally, and improve their libido all based on her revolutionary functional nutritional protocol. Alisa is a popular media guest and has been featured on The Dr. Oz Show, has a web series on Lifetime, and has been a regular contributor for CBS, Fox, Shape, Women’s Health, MindBodyGreen, and the Huffington Post. Her popular TEDx talk has been watched by over a half-million people. She is a sought-after speaker and has presented at Talks@Google, Summit Series Outside, Hay House, WIE Symposium and SHE Summit.