From the Family Foundations archives
There are physical issues that reduce libido, and in fact, a reduced sex drive could very well by your body’s way of alerting you that things are not quite right. A healthy libido is normal and a sign your monthly hormones are in sync as they should be. So while relationship and communication issues can also affect our desires, self-help should also include a look at the possible physical causes. These are detailed in CCL’s Fertility, Cycles & Nutrition, along with suggested vitamin and mineral supplements and amounts for improvement. For a full copy of the book, visit our store.
Low thyroid function
Very low temperatures, with pre-ovulatory temperatures in the range of 97.2°F and below, are a good indicator of low thyroid function. Other signs are weak changes in mucus as the cycle proceeds, both before and after ovulation. Self-care in many cases can make a difference. If self-care does not enable you to have better cycles, better charts or better libido, it may be worth having a physician check your thyroid function.
Short luteal phase
If your chart shows a poor temperature shift, and Phase III is considerably shorter than the charts shown in The Art of Natural Family Planning, it may be that your progesterone, which rises to its highest level after ovulation, is lower than ideal. Normal levels of progesterone contribute to better overall cycles as well as to improved desire, at least in some women.
Worn out adrenals
The adrenal glands, which sit atop each kidney, produce steroid hormones that perform various functions in the body. The stress hormone cortisol is the “bad” hormone, which rises in response to long-term stress. In large amounts, it interferes with estrogen, progesterone and testosterone and can disrupt the cycle and decrease desire. In both sexes, the adrenal glands also produce testosterone, which in women boosts libido.
Overweight or obesity
Body fat is a source of estrogen, which in excess competes with progesterone’s functions. Body fat also turns testosterone from the adrenal glands into estrogen. Losing excess body fat can improve both progesterone and testosterone levels, which in turn can improve desire.
Good nutrition, enough sleep, the right amount of outdoor exercise, stress reduction and an active prayer life all contribute to healthy moods. If you or your spouse feel that your moods are concerning or your outlook doesn’t improve with self-help, look to good medical care.
The most profound natural change in hormones in the human species occurs after birth, and estrogen and progesterone may remain low for many months as a woman breastfeeds. It is entirely normal for low desire to appear. Desire can return long before fertility returns, as the body adjusts to the change in hormonal status and adrenal hormones, including testosterone, are produced.
Pre- and post menopause
Something to look forward to! As the levels of the steroid hormones estrogen and progesterone drop, testosterone is no longer overshadowed, and a rise in desire during the premenopausal time or after menopause is common. Good nutrition aimed at supporting the adrenal glands will help ensure womanly desire continues long after menopause.
— Kathleen Basi is a freelance writer from Columbia, Mo. She and her husband, Christian, have been a CCL teaching couple for 16 years.