is Talking about libido is especially difficult for us men. I know because I was in your shoes. I remember when my girlfriend at the time was feeling frisky and I had no desire. Believe it or not, I was just too tired for sex! Needless to say, this trend eventually ended our relationship.
Our identities are forged as we hit puberty, and our desire for sex plays a huge role in who we are. For many of us, our sex drive makes us feel, well, MALE. So when this drive wanes, it can be difficult to come to terms with it. If you’ve noticed you’re less interested in sex, you’re not alone! Four out of every ten men will struggle with low libido, as hormones like testosterone shift and dip as we age. Fortunately, there is a way to get that spark back that doesn’t involve undergoing extensive hormone replacement therapy
Testosterone and Your Libido
Most men relate testosterone to sex. This is correct, but this hormone manages much more than just our reproductive systems. It is also responsible for bone mass, muscle size, fat distribution, strength, and red blood cell production. Testosterone levels can be checked with a simple blood test. It’s normal for these levels to wane beginning in our early 30s. Lower testosterone levels in younger men are referred to as late-onset hypogonadism, and can lead to the following symptoms:
- Mood swings
- Erectile dysfunction
- Decrease in body hair
- Decrease in muscle mass
- Decreased bone mass
- Mental fog
- Low sex drive
- Increased body fat
Men who overcome the stigma of seeking treatment are often given limited options. Hormone replacement therapy in the form of testosterone gel, cream, or injection is commonly prescribed. However, there is a significant downside to using these therapies: once introduced, the body actually slows production of its own testosterone! Men using these hormones must either continue to take them long-term or suffer the devastating symptoms mentioned above.
A Better Option
I became a functional medicine practitioner after dealing with low testosterone myself. After gaining weight, going through depression, and experiencing a low libido, I knew something was wrong. I saw doctor after doctor, each one prescribing these “life-altering substances” that I would have to take for the rest of my life. I knew there had to be a better way.
The functional medicine difference lies in getting to the source of the issue. For most men experiencing a dip in sex drive, a simple blood test can confirm whether low testosterone is to blame. Once functional tests reveal the root cause of your low libido, we can address the problem at the source.
Boosting Testosterone Naturally
Luckily, hormone replacement is not the only option. Simple lifestyle changes can have a dramatic effect on hormone production. The following list reflects a few ways you can start to build up your testosterone again naturally. Remember to check in with your practitioner before making any significant lifestyle adjustment.
Drop Excess Weight
Fat (especially around the belly) inhibits healthy testosterone production. Fatty tissue absorbs this hormone, keeping it from circulating in the blood and doing its job. As your testosterone level drops, your ability to lose weight drops as well. It can be a self-defeating cycle.
Ditch the sugary, processed snacks. If most of your meals come from a package, it’s time for a drastic change. Fill your diet with green, leafy vegetables, organic protein, healthy fats, and also swap your go-to dessert for a piece of fruit. Limit your exposure to sugars and processed foods to keep your blood sugar at an optimal level. You’ll have consistent, sustained energy.
Bring exercise back into your life. If you played sports as a kid, pick up the basketball again and shoot some hoops with your kids. Take a jog around the block. Incorporate movement into your daily routine. High-intensity workouts and strength training are both proven to increase testosterone. Aim for short, intense bursts of cardio, and long sustained lifting of heavy weights with proper form.
Develop Sleep Hygiene
Do you collapse into bed each night? Spend the last few hours of your day scrolling through the news feed on your phone? Are you often exhausted when you wake up in the morning? One of the keys to balancing hormones is to develop sleep hygiene.Testosterone is produced during the deepest phases of sleep.
Step Away from the Screen
The blue lights emitted from devices can interrupt Melatonin, causing a disturbance in our sleep cycle. Instead of picking up your phone, read an old-fashioned book with a nightlight if you’re having trouble falling asleep.
Rely on Your Routine
Successful sleepers know that the secret to consistently getting the best sleep is to go to bed at the same time each night, and wake up at the same time each morning. Our bodies run on a cycle, regardless of our three-day weekends or Netflix binges.
Say Goodbye to Stress
If you feel stressed on a daily basis, your body feels it, too. Chronic stress forces the body to remain in fight-or-flight mode, an ancestral survival technique that allowed us to get away from and defend against predators. However, the modern equivalent of long work days, financial worries, and marital tension does not allow for a release of this stress. Instead of burning up the cortisol (the “stress hormone”) by running away or fighting, we exist in a state of hyper-awareness. The lingering cortisol blocks testosterone production, and can lead to chronic inflammation, lowered immunity, and adrenal fatigue.
Give the Parasympathetic Nervous System a Chance
Practice relaxation techniques like mindfulness and yoga to give your body a much-needed break from this stress. Even 15 minutes each day will allow your system the essential reset it needs to release cortisol and restore balance.
Get to the Bottom of the Issue
If you’ve noticed that your sex drive is waning, you have every right to be alarmed! I certainly was. I have seen my life transformed by getting to the root cause of the issue and getting my system back in balance. Take the next step in getting your life back. Contact me today for a FREE consultation!
Rich Jacobs is a Board Certified Integrative and Functional Nutrition Practitioner who specializes in resolving gut, insomnia, low libido, fatigue and fat issues. He uses a holistic approach and functional lab work to identify root causes such as hormone imbalances or gut pathogens that could be impacting your health.