As moms, it is easy for us to dismiss a decline in our libido as just a side effect of working hard and sleeping very little. And you know, that is definitely a culprit for many couples, but that isn’t the only thing that may be going on.
The reality is that many people experience a diminished libido and there are plenty of women who find it difficult to achieve an orgasm. Unfortunately, no one talks about this, not even most physicians. But I assure you that you are not alone if you are experiencing any decline in your desire for sex.
When you examine the way most of us live, it’s no wonder couples find difficulty in the bedroom. High stress, grab-n-go, multi-tasking, late nights and yes, even our children, all have the ability to decrease our desire and ability to be intimate.
In my practice, I’ve seen women of all ages report diminished desire for sex and difficulty feeling pleasure, but it is especially the case among mothers. In truth, your libido is an indicator of your overall health, as a healthy libido is measure of vitality. A low libidio also clues me into the fact that there may be an underlying hormonal imbalance, cardiovascular issue or a mental/ emotional piece that needs examining. But sometimes it is as simple as making some dietary and lifestyle changes to bring back that fire you once felt.
If your libido is suffering, chances are you needed to employ stress management tools yesterday. Stress kills your libido! How?
When you are under a great deal of stress or in situations of chronic stress, your body will preferentially make cortisol over your sex hormones. It’s a mechanism your body employs when it perceives the environment to be unsafe. What’s one of the best ways to keep you from becoming pregnant? Shut down your desire to procreate altogether!
To counter the effects of stress on your life you need to nourish the parasympathetic nervous system, also known as the “rest & digest” aspect of our nervous system. Focusing on your breath can have profound effects on your nervous system and stress levels.
Try this daily practice
Set an alarm for every hour you are awake. When the alarm goes off take 10 deep belly breathes. Observe the breath moving deep into the lungs, then hold onto it slightly so that you create a longer exhale than inhale. It is those longer exhales that encourage a more parasympathetic state.
You may also want to consider changing your schedule to include less tasks in the day and leave more time to spend with your partner. Make time for things you enjoy doing and definitely get some exercisedaily, not only for stress reduction, but also for increased blood flow.
And remind your partner (or send them to read this) that one of the best ways to boost a mom’s libido is to support her. Yes, doing the dishes is foreplay!
If your partner can help take some of the stressors off your plate, that will free you up for more adult play time and leave you with enough energy to actually be interested!
Know Your Own Body
Yes, it is very important to know what you like in the bedroom, but it is equally important to feel connected to your body. While society does well to display sex, it has also instilled in many people a shame about being in touch with their feminine and masculine. These areas are a part of you just as much as your arm or any other body part.
One way to start connecting to your body is with breath. Visualize yourself sending your breath to different areas of your body. When you’re ready, feel yourself come into your pelvis as you send your breath there. Explore that space for any thoughts you may be holding onto that are not serving you and give yourself permission to release those. Coming into your pelvic space daily will make it that much easier to do so during more intimate moments. The more connected you are to this area the more sensation you will be able to experience.
It is where your body restores and revitalizes itself. It is also where your body orchestrates a delicate balance of hormones that elevate your mood, regulate your weight and help your body become ready to enjoy the next day. If you’re serious about taking back your libido, get yourself to bed by 10 pm nightly and stay there for a good 7-9 hours. And while you’re at it, make the room as dark as possible so that you can make the most of your sleep and melatonin.
Sleep can be a very tricky area for us moms, especially when our child is not coordinated with our sleep needs. I encourage moms to ask their partners to help them get more sleep. Generally, partners are more than willing to pitch in if they know it will help your libido.
Can’t get a consistent night of sleep? Try wearing amber glasses 1-2 hours before bed and when you are awoken at night. This will help with you maintain a healthy circadian rhythm and keep cortisol from disrupting your hormones.
It’s more than just what you eat, but also how you eat it. Let’s face it, as moms sometimes it is a triumph just to get food into our mouths, let alone sit down to eat. I’ve been there!
But when you eat in a hurry, forget to chew or are feeling just plane chaotic around meal time— your gut cannot function in the way it is meant to. This translates to poor absorption, indigestion, and can also be a cause of nutrient deficiencies.I know it can be asking a lot, but slowing down, enjoying your food and chewing well can ensure you are getting the most benefits from your meal.
12 Libido Reviving Foods
Who doesn’t love this recommendation? Here’s a good rule when approaching your libido— what’s good for your heart is good for your mojo. The bioflavonoids found in dark chocolate are important for the health of your blood vessels, which allow for good blood flow to your sexual organs—an essential part of arousal, lubrication, and achieving an orgasm.
Dark chocolate also boosts dopamine in the brain, which is associated with pleasure. When you buy that special person a chocolaty treat this year make sure it is 70% or more cacao…that’s where the good stuff is.
An excellent source of zinc, pumpkin seeds can help bring testosterone to a healthy libido level in your body. Zinc is also important for healthy sperm production. Aim for 1/4 cup per day.
First, you both have to eat it, otherwise, this could have the opposite effect you are hoping for. Allicin, the active compound in garlic, improves circulation, which will help your tissues receive more blood and nutrients leading to enhancement of physical sensations.
Bananas & Pineapples
Both contain bromelain, an enzyme which can help increase testosterone and your libido. The majority of bromelain is found the center portion of pineapples, which can also help decrease inflammation in the body.Inflammation can lead to increased cortisol production, which helps lower the inflammation at the expense of your libido.
Believe it or not, this often overlooked vegetable contains a constituent (androsterone) that helps your body produce pheromones. Pheromones, secreted through your sweat glands, subconsciously suggest sexual arousal. Who knew celery was so sexy?
By aiding in increased sensation and lubrication, ginger helps enhance orgasm. Sip on a nice warm cup of fresh ginger tea in the evening and see where the night takes you!
Found in red meat, lentils, spinach and nuts. Arginine can help the female libido and orgasm through the dilation of clitoral blood vessels.
Spinach & Asparagus
Both of these vegetables are high in folate. Folate helps aid in the production of histamine, which is released from mast cells during sexual arousal. Folate can help facilitate the female orgasm and is also essential in the early stages of pregnancy (just in case).
Salmon & Avocados
Both are an excellent source of hormone supportive fats and B6, an essential B vitamin involved in hormone metabolism and neurotransmitter synthesis.
Tried all of this and it wasn’t enough?
Support Your Adrenals
Adrenal glands can be at the heart of many hormonal disorders. In my office I recommend patients start with a quality B complex that contains methylated forms of folate and B12. In addition, I also recommend 2,000-4,000 mg of Vitamin C spaced throughout the day. Because many of us tend to be low in magnesium, 150-300 mg may also help improve adrenal function and sleep. Vitamin C, B vitamins and magnesium are all safe while breastfeeding.
Adaptogenic Herbs to the Rescue!
Panax ginseng, Rhodiola, Eleutherococcus, Ashwagandha and Holy Basil are all amazing herbs for supporting adrenal health and overall hormonal health.
A good starting place for many moms is with 60-90 drops of Ashwagandha tincture at night and 30-60 drops of Eleutherococcus tincture in the morning. Remember, to check in with your doctor before starting any herbs as they may be contraindicated if you have a pre-existing condition.
Consider having your hormones tested
Looking into estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, cortisol, insulin, thyroid, and DHEA-S can give a lot of insight into what may be going on in your body. Work with a practitioner that looks at your labs in conjunction with your symptoms so that your health is being evaluated holistically. While a low libido is common in motherhood, that doesn’t mean it is normal, and it can be a sign of a deeper seated issue. If you try the above recommendations without improvement, please be sure to seek help. You deserve to be cared for and you deserve to thrive!
If you love these kinds of actionable tips, you will love what I share in my best selling book, Healing Your Body Naturally After Childbirth—The New Mom’s Guide to Navigating the Fourth Trimester. In it, I discuss many other options to addressing libido, hormones, mood, fatigue, and other symptoms that can arise postpartum.