THE GUT SEX CONNECTION – HOW GUT HEALTH AFFECTS YOUR LIBIDO
The gut is responsible for more than just digestion. Recent research has highlighted a link between gut health and libido, a topic that is especially relevant with Valentine’s Day approaching. While psychological and hormonal factors are usually associated with libido and sexual function, studies suggest that the health of the gut may also play a crucial role.
Read on to get a deeper insight into how your gut health can impact your libido below…
Dealing with gut symptoms like constipation, diarrhoea, stomach cramps, gas, and bloating can be a real downer and can affect your confidence and sex drive. It’s totally normal to feel a little less sexy when your tummy isn’t feeling its best.
Working on your IBS and getting to the root trigger of your symptoms is key here. I have helped hundreds of clients get to the root problem of their IBS symptoms through my gut health package. If this is something you are interested in, please email my team at email@example.com.
NUTRIENT ABSORPTION FOR LIBIDO
Nurture your gut for optimal nutrient absorption! Essential nutrients like zinc, B vitamins, and omega-3 fatty acids are vital for our overall well-being and support reproductive function and hormonal balance. A healthy gut is a gateway to absorb these nutrients properly, which can significantly impact your energy and vitality, essential for a robust libido.
HOW THE GUT IMPACTS SEX HORMONES
Our gut health plays a pretty important role when it comes to the health of our hormones, through mechanisms such as:
- Helping the synthesis and regulation of hormones and neurotransmitters
- Plays a key role in the immune system
- Contributes to the regulation of estrogen levels within the body
- Facilitates the absorption of macro and micronutrients
Did you know that the bacterial enzymes in your gut microbiome can transform dietary compounds, such as phytoestrogens, into bioactive metabolites that can help regulate hormone balance? Not just that, your gut microbiota also plays a crucial role in controlling inflammation and oxidative stress, which significantly impacts sex hormone synthesis and function.
Estrogen, which is present in both males and females, helps to maintain healthy sexual tissues and regulate neurotransmitters that are associated with sexual desire. On the other hand, testosterone, which is more prevalent in males but also present in females, promotes sexual arousal and responsiveness. The interaction between these sex hormones not only affects the physical aspects of sexual function but also contributes to the emotional and psychological factors that shape our overall sexual well-being.
OUR GUT BUGS AFFECT OUR LIBIDO
Serotonin, which is often referred to as the “feel-good” neurotransmitter, is mainly produced in the gut. When the gut is unbalanced, it can cause serotonin levels to fluctuate, leading to an increased risk of mood disorders like anxiety and depression. Mental well-being plays a crucial role in maintaining a healthy libido.
Dopamine is known to influence the brain’s reward and pleasure centers and is also involved in sexual arousal and desire. The gut helps in producing certain precursors to dopamine, such as tyrosine. If there is an imbalance in gut health, it can affect the availability of these precursors, leading to changes in dopamine levels and subsequently impacting sexual motivation.
An unhealthy microbiome may also lead to increased inflammation in the gut. A 2019 study found that women with lower levels of inflammation appear to experience more feelings of wanting, wishing, or desiring sexual activity, as compared to women who experience long term inflammation. (1)
HOW TO AVOID DIGESTIVE SYMPTOMS RUINING YOUR LIBIDO AND INTIMACY…
ON THE NIGHT
- Avoid high gas foods that trigger bloating such as beans, cruciferous veggies, and artificial sweeteners.
- Try a few deep breaths before meals- this will help to reduce any levels of stress, aid digestion and get your body primed for optimal digestion.
- Have a bitter food starter before your meal! If you’re at home, have a handful of rocket, and if you’re out, consider ordering a rocket & parmesan salad with a drizzle of olive oil.
- Keep alcohol to moderate intake and avoid the fizzy drinks around meals. Stick to water and try to avoid sipping whilst eating, as this can trigger bloating.
- Avoid heavy meals before an intimate moment which can make you feel sluggish and bloated. Stick to easy to digest foods such as soups, proteins, low FODMAP veggies such as spinach, courgette, carrots and peppers.
GENERAL GUT HEALTH LIBIDO LOVING FOODS
Tyrosine– an amino acid that serves as a precursor to dopamine. Foods rich in tyrosine include:
- Fish (especially oily fish such as salmon and trout)
- Soy products
Omega-3- plays a role in maintaining the integrity of cell membranes, including those of dopamine-producing neurons. Foods rich in omega-3s include:
- Fatty fish (salmon, mackerel, anchovies, sardines & herring)
- Chia seeds
Antioxidants– protect the brain cells involved in dopamine production from oxidative stress. Include foods rich in antioxidants, such as:
- Berries (blueberries, strawberries, raspberries)
- 70%+ Dark chocolate
- Kidney beans
Embrace a gut-healthy mostly-wholefood diet rich in fibre. Fibre supports gut health by providing nourishment for beneficial bacteria and promoting regular bowel movements. It’s important to increase your fibre intake low and slow, rather than bumping it up dramatically overnight as it can trigger digestive discomfort. Do this over a period of 1-2 weeks for a happy and thriving gut!
REDUCE ULTRA-PROCESSED FOODS
It’s also important to consider your intake of highly processed and sugary foods which can negatively impact gut health. Opt for whole, nutrient-dense foods to support both your gut and overall well-being when possible.
Chronic stress can disrupt the delicate balance of the gut-brain axis. Incorporate stress management practices such as mindfulness, meditation, or yoga into your routine to support both mental and gut health. (6)
CLARISSA’S TOP TIPS
Check out my article for further information and my top tips on how to support your gut health here
By adopting habits that support a thriving and happy gut, you may find yourself with a newfound vitality that will positively impact your libido.
If you are experiencing unusually low levels of libido or any gut health issues that are impacting your daily life and routine, then it’s important to check in with your GP or a gut health specialist.