The Hormones Behind Your Libido

April 6, 2011

By Dr. Jennifer Landa, Chief Medical Officer of BodyLogicMD

Has your sex drive been declining as you’ve been getting older? If so, you’re not alone. Low libido is a common complaint for both men and women, but it’s not an inevitable consequence of aging. There’s a lot you can do to increase your libido, especially when you know what’s going on in your body.

In order to take charge of your reduced libido, you need to know what caused it to plummet in the first place. There are many potential causes for changes in your libido, and hormone imbalances are quite often the likely culprit. It’s important that you don’t narrow down on just one hormone. The three major hormones that have the greatest effect on libido are:

You could think of your health as a symphony, with your hormones performing as different instruments in the orchestra. If one part of the orchestra is not functioning properly, you won’t have a beautiful melody. Our hormones need to be in a proper balance to make us function, look and feel our best.

Testosterone and Your Libido

Testosterone is often referred to as the “the hormone of libido,” and it does, indeed, play a significant role in your sex drive — whether you’re a man or a woman. Proper levels of testosterone have many benefits for your libido, including:

  • Desire. Just not interested in sex? That’s one sign of low testosterone levels. Improving these levels can help you get in the mood for intimate activity.
  • Energy. If you’ve been feeling drained and exhausted, you’re probably too tired for sex. Testosterone can increase your energy levels.
  • Mood. It can be hard to think about sex when you’re feeling down. Testosterone can help improve your overall mood, so you’ll feel good enough for sex again.
  • Improved erection. Testosterone plays a major role in the process of a man’s erection. Without it, you may have difficulty reaching or maintaining an erection strong enough for sex.
  • Increased genitalia sensitivity. Testosterone increases blood flow to the genitals, which elevates sensitivity. You need this sensitivity for satisfying sex. And, without it, you take longer to feel aroused and to reach orgasm.

The Roles of Estrogen and Progesterone

While testosterone is the hormone most commonly linked to libido, you can’t ignore estrogen and progesterone. All three hormones play an equal role in your libido. Your levels of progesterone and estrogen can affect your testosterone levels — balance is the key. Even if your testosterone levels are sufficient, an imbalance with your estrogen or progesterone can interfere with how your body uses that testosterone. Inadequate estrogen levels in women can reduce the effectiveness and efficiency of testosterone, and too much estrogen in men can have the same effect.Estrogen and progesterone have their own effects on libido, as well ­— particularly in women. Too much or too little of these hormones can lead to several physical changes, including:

  • Vaginal dryness. You need lubrication for the best sexual experience. But when your hormones are out of balance, your body doesn’t produce enough vaginal fluids. This can make sexual activity painful.
  • Vaginal atrophy. As estrogen levels decline, the walls of your vagina become thinner and less elastic. This can also cause pain during sex, as your body is less accepting of penetration.
  • Uterine contractions. In some women, an imbalance in hormones can cause painful contractions in the uterus during and after orgasm. The anticipation of this pain turns off many women, who may not feel that the sex and orgasm are worth the pain that follows.

Read the full article: Reboot Your Libido

About Dr. Landa
Dr. Jennifer Landa earned her medical degree from Albany Medical College of Union University in Albany, NY in 1996. She completed her internship and residency at Beth Israel Medical Center in NYC, where she was distinguished as the Administrative Chief Resident in OB/GYN. Dr. Landa is Board Certified by the American Board of of Anti-Aging and Regenerative Medicine and serves as anAdvanced Fellow in the Fellowship for Anti-Aging, Regenerative and Functional Medicine. In addition, Dr. Landa has made appearances on a number of nationally-syndicated television shows, and was featured in a cover story by Florida Trend magazine in December of 2009, as a leading expert in anti-aging medicine.

2 Responses to The Hormones Behind Your Libido

  1. joy i says:

    hi dr. Landa,
    you article was really hopeful for my research.
    im doing a research paper about chocolate contents, and i came across the word phenylethylamine, so my research was diverted to phenylethylamine, and one article said phenylethylamine is the hormone of libido.
    would you be able to explain what is phenylethylamine? and which is the true hormone of libido? thank you very much

  2. Fantastic website. Plenty of helpful information here. I
    am sending it to a few buddies ans additionally sharing in delicious.
    And naturally, thanks to your effort!

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