Our sex drive is affected by our hormone production. The balancing of these hormones is key to having a healthy sex life.
Let food be your medicine when you are dealing with hormone imbalance, which is commonly manifested by decreased sex drive, hot flashes/night sweats, and menopause/andropause. The sex hormone production starts with cholesterol. The gut is now referred to as the second brain as over 70 percent of immunity and neurotransmitter function starts here. When you consume a meal, it sends signals via the nutrientsor lack of nutrientsto the cells, increasing or decreasing hormone production in the body. Hormone production starts to decrease between the fourth and fifth decades of life; however, some men and women may start to notice the changes earlier depending on lifestyle. This is why various diseases, as well as foggy thinking/memory issues, manifest during this time.
Lifestyle also plays a major role in hormone production. It is advantageous to live a life with less stress because a small portion of the sex hormones are made in the adrenal glands which regulate the stress response. Cortisol is one of the main hormones made in the adrenal gland. The body is not made to deal with elevated stressors on a continual basis. This elevation depletes the sex hormone production, which increases cortisol. A raised cortisol level increases insulin production, which results in fat deposits predominantly around the waist.
Sleep is another factor which affects hormone production. The body is in repair mode during sleep; therefore, lack of sleep, whether organically or inorganically, slows down the production of sex hormones but increases cortisol levels. The most common sleep issue is obstructive sleep apnea. This occurs when the individual stops breathing for a few seconds at night with or without loud snoring.
In general, steroids are sex hormones that are related to sexual maturation and fertility. Steroids are made from cholesterol. As we age, hormone production decreases. This process is most commonly known as menopause in women and andropause in men.The major sex hormones are Testosterone, Estrogen, Progesterone, and Cortisol. These hormones are predominantly made in gonads (testes or ovaries) and the adrenal glands.
The major sex hormones
- Testosterone is the primary sex hormone in men; however, men also need estrogen and progesterone, but at a lesser degree than women. The major role of testosterone is the development of body hair, muscle growth, bone growth, sperm production, and sex drive.
- Estrogen and Progesterone are the primary sex hormones in women. Estrogen regulates the menstrual cycle and prepares the uterus for pregnancy. During the time before menopauseknown as perimenopauseestrogen levels may fluctuate wildly; however, estrogen levels drop significantly when a women reaches menopause. Progesterone regulates the monthly menstrual cycle, and plays a role in pregnancy, bone health, and sexual function.
- Testosterone is a secondary sex hormone in women that is significant for bone strength and development of lean muscle mass, energy, and sex drive.
Here are some dietary changes that can aid in increasing hormone production.
- Reduce the intake of saturated fats and sugar. Saturated fats in meat and dairy may cause increase in estrogen levels resulting in hormonal imbalances. Sugar may increase insulin levels which may also have a negative effect on the sex hormones.
- Increase fresh fruits and vegetable intake, including greens, kale, cabbage, turnips, berries, flaxseed, rosemary, and green tea, and vitamin C.
- Dont skip breakfast or lunch because these meals start metabolism, which aids in stabilizing hormonal fluctuation.
- Include in your diet foods high in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, such as fish, nuts, and legumes.
- Maintain a moderate intake of carbohydrates.
- Include in your diet foods high in fiber, such as brown rice, oatmeal, and beans. Fiber binds to estrogen allowing the body to process and eliminate excess hormone.
- Limit or eliminate gluten from your diet, i.e. anything containing wheat or wheat flour.
Lifestyle changes to increase hormone production
- Lose weight to decrease excess body fat.
- Stop smoking and limit alcohol consumption.
- Learn stress management techniques to decrease stress response to lifes stressors.
- Limit exposure to toxicants (pesticides, smoking, BPA found in plastic water bottles).
- Limit health and beauty products that contain parabens, such as shampoo and makeup, which may contain toxins.
What are the symptoms of hormone imbalance in men?
|Decreased sex drive||Erectile dysfunction|
|Low energy||Decreased muscle mass|
|Low self-esteem||Pre-mature aging|
Most symptoms of hormone imbalance are seen in men in their 40s and 50s; however, we are seeing some imbalance in men in their 30s.
What are the symptoms of hormone imbalance in women?
|Weight gain||Heavy bleeding|
|Vaginal dryness||Painful intercourse (sex)|
|Chronic UTIs||Foggy thinking/ Memory issues|
The first place to start when attempting to balance hormone levels is diet and lifestyle changes, namely exercise and decreasing the stress response to stressful events. If, after making these changes, you are still experiencing any of the above symptoms, please seek out a functional medical practitioner who is well-versed in Bio-identical hormone replacement and adrenal health. A complete workup, inclusive of blood or salivary collection to evaluate hormone level prior to starting hormone replacement therapy, is needed to address any nutritional deficiency and/or toxicity exposure.
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