Feeling frisky? Or has your sex drive flatlined?
Valentine’s Day is the one day of the year when you really feel obliged to be frisky – and feel super-guilty if you don’t. For women, finding that ‘loving feeling’ is complicated, and there are so many reasons why you just don’t feel like getting jiggy with it at all. Here's what to eat to help.
WHY IS MY LIBIDO SO LOW?
Having a low sex drive can be the result of side effects of medication, most notably anti-depressants, blood pressure drugs and, ironically, the pill. It’s also linked to chronic medical conditions like cardiovascular disease or diabetes, and relationship problems can play a huge role, and so too can stress.
But right at the top of the list for many women is hormone imbalance. When your hormones are out of whack, your libido takes a nose-dive. Fact.
When your menstrual cycle is fully functioning, the cyclical changes in oestrogen levels mean you have a few revved-up days each month (nature’s way of helping you get pregnant naturally). So most of you would expect to be feeling saucy about 14 days before the start of your period.
For women going through the transition to menopause (the five years or so in the run-up to The Change, sometimes called the perimenopause), when levels of oestrogen dip so too does the desire for sex. Then there’s the discomfort that often comes with intercourse at this time – and who wants sex when it feels bad?
Low sex drive is also a key symptom of thyroid disease. If you have (or suspect you have) an underactive thyroid, this will come as no surprise. Although some people find things start to improve with synthetic thyroid hormone medication prescribed their GP, it continues to be an issue for many women.
Sound familiar? If getting in the mood feels like an uphill struggle, it’s good to know that there are a few steps you can take to support your body with the food you eat.
WHAT TO EAT TO BOOST YOUR SEX DRIVE
Avocados are chock-full of nutritious goodies, including libido-boosting potassium and folic acid, which helps with stamina.
Broccoli is really high in vitamin C (really!), which boosts circulation and is associated with increased female libido.
Eggs are one of nature’s superfoods, bursting with B vitamins, including B6, which helps balance hormones and fight stress. Both are important for getting you in the mood.
Watermelon contains lycopene, citrulline and beta-carotene, which relax blood vessels, causing a Viagra-like effect.
Zinc – women who have a high sex drive often have higher levels of the ‘male’ hormone testosterone. Zinc has been shown to boost libido because it blocks an enzyme that converts testosterone to the ‘female’ hormone oestrogen. Diet fix: have a small handful of pumpkin seeds every day as a snack, or sprinkled onto salads or yoghurt.
Maca – a marvellous root from South America that has been used by women for centuries to boost libido as well as fertility thanks to its high iodine and zinc levels. Its effectiveness has also been demonstrated in a number of clinical trials. Research into maca has also found it to be helpful in combatting some other symptoms associated with the menopause transition, including increasing vaginal lubrication, reducing hot flushes and boosting mood. Maca can be taken in capsule form as a supplement but is also available as a powder, which you can add cereal, soup, yoghurt or (my favourite) a smoothie.