5 Steps To Hack and Heal Female Sexual Desire
By: Dave Asprey
May 11, 2015
Did you know that in addition to May being National Meditation Month, May is also National Masturbation Month?
Note: This post is rated “PG-13” so feel free to skip to the rest of the Bulletproof blog if you don’t want to read it.
Guest post by Alex Jamieson, CHHC, CAPP
Want to have more Bulletproof sex? When you read in The Bulletproof Diet all about learning to control your “Labrador brain,” there are 3 elements that inhibit or enhance human performance the most: destructibility and fear; food and starvation; and sex and reproduction.
If we don’t include sex in the conversation about human performance we’re missing out on one of the most critical pillars! That’s why using biohacking techniques is important and something I’ve given talks about before.
So I’ve invited my friend Alex, author of Women, Food, And Desire and host of The Crave Cast Podcast, to write about the female side of sex hacking: it’s different for women, and let’s face it, I’m not one! (I’ve written about the male side before). Check this out, it’s well worth your time. –Dave
Ladies, and the ones who love them: there is an epidemic of lack that we need to talk about.
The lack of female sexual desire, that is.
According to the most recent Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, (DSM-5, 2013), the American Psychiatric Association’s classification and diagnostic tool, lack of desire[i] (classified as HSDD or hypoactive sexual desire disorder, or female sexual interest/arousal disorder) and the related anxiety it causes, is the most common of women’s sexual complaints.
This can include a lack of sexual desire that causes distress, disinterest, and inability to achieve orgasm when orgasm was once easy. And orgasm, when accessible, is one of the best healing tools a woman, and a couple, can use to boost her vitality and health.
We want our desire back, and contrary to popular belief, a female viagra is not the answer.
You may think this epidemic is effecting older women, on the verge of middle age, but the evidence shows young women are just as susceptible to this crippling lack of desire. A broad study of 31,000 U.S. females 18 and older published in 2008 in Obstetrics and Gynecology magazine[ii], found that about 43 percent of women reported sexual problems. This lack of desire causes distress, and anxiety, as well as being linked with depression.
You can hack your life and body for more energy, weight loss, and boosted brain productivity.
Can we hack female desire? Can a woman naturally boost her libido and reclaim the juicy mojo associated with youth, vigor, and vitality?
In short, yes.
Yet women’s desire is more complex than men’s, requiring support, vulnerability, a trip to the health food store and sex shop, and possibly some blood testing.
Stress, depression and bad relationships can contribute to low libido but often diet, birth control pills or antidepressants, and outdated myths about what really turns women on are to blame.
1. Time to make over your medicine cabinet: How Birth Control + Antidepressants Can Cause Low Desire
The hormonal dance that is female desire involves more partners than your grandma’s square-dance troupe, and is just as confusing as a caller’s directions.
In broad strokes, here’s how our reliance on hormonal birth control, antidepressants, and antibiotics is damaging female desire:
Birth control pills that contain estrogen and progesterone can be a root cause of low libido. These synthetic hormones diminish our pituitary hormones which result in the suppression of not just our ovarian function, which stops us from getting pregnant, but also testosterone production.
For women, sexual desire, being sensitive to sexual touch, and our ability to reach orgasm are all driven in part by our testosterone levels. When we experience a drop, it’s hard to get hot.
German researchers published a 2010 study[iii] in the Journal of Sexual Medicine that found birth control pills significantly decrease levels of circulating testosterone, which, this woman can personally attest to, have a huge impact on sexual desire. The result is diminished interest and enjoyment of sex.
Some OB/GYNs will help guide their patients through a “drug holiday” to balance their natural hormone levels, which can take time and may result in mood and weight changes as your testosterone and other hormonal levels naturally increase.
Antidepressants can also mess with our hormones, causing more reason to panic.
The ironic fact that long-term use of SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) is linked to bleeding in the gut, which produces 90% of your serotonin, which has an effect on testosterone levels, and therefore our libido and confidence, would be funny if it weren’t so horrific.
This cycle has women in a depressed, anxious state, where sex loses it’s appeal completely, and we lose the ability to reach orgasm, one of the most healing and hormonally balancing mechanisms of the female body.
Some doctors will recommend trying a different antidepressant, reducing the dosage, or even eliminating their prescription to help their patients kick start their body’s natural desire. This process can take time and lead to other side effects, and should be undertaken with great care and support.
I recommend getting a complete blood test array to check your hormone levels, and any vitamin or mineral deficiencies that could be underlying causes of unbalanced biochemistry.
If you’ve been diagnosed with IBS, leaky gut, SIBO, or any other gut or bacterial imbalance, healing your digestive system will go a long way in reigniting your desire. Antibiotic overuse has been shown to damage the gut lining, resulting in a decreased ability for this “second brain” to produce and store healthy levels of serotonin.
Hormones don’t operate in a vacuum. Everything you do, think, and eat effects these building blocks of desire. Blood sugar, insulin, and sex hormones are more closely linked than most of us know.
2. Dessert Is Destroying The Female Desire:
Sugar kills testosterone:
Insulin resistance, caused by a diet high in refined carbohydrates including white flour, sugar, and alcohol, drives down testosterone in both men and women. Both sex drive and function (think erectile disfunction, which also effects the clitoris, not just the penis) take a hit when blood sugar levels are high.
Sugar saps your energy:
High-glycemic carbohydrates spike your blood sugar, leading to insulin over-production to pull your blood sugar back down. The roller coaster of low then high then low blood sugar results in fatigue, which is one reason why a big pasta dinner with wine knocks you out of the mood. High sugar consumption also leads to decreased orexin, a neurotransmitter that regulates arousal and wakefulness, which leads to fatigue, which leads to snoring, rather than snogging.
Sugar = stress:
Sugar is the most inflammatory food around, which leads to physical stress in every aspect of your body and mind. High insulin levels will elevate cortisol, a main stress hormone. Chronic high cortisol leads to muscle break down, fat storage, and squashed libido. Not a sweet picture, right?
3. Heal the roots of your hormone production = your gut + blood sugar:
Balancing your hormones could be as simple as changing your dinner plans. Food forms your hormones, metabolism, and ultimately, your desire.
Here are my top desire diet recommendations:
- low glycemic, real foods: fresh veggies, beans, gluten-free grains, high-quality animal protein
- low-sugar diet: choose fresh fruit over sugar and dried fruits, avoid fruit juices, and skip the booze for a few weeks
To repair gut health, improve serotonin production, and reduce anxiety, begin taking probiotics and eating naturally fermented foods, rich in wild probiotics:
- raw sauerkraut
- unsweetened kefir
To restart desire, you can’t just work on the biological level, you must also rekindle the capacity of your mechanical and physical body.
Many women aren’t as knowledgable about their body’s abilities and geography as they need to be to fully own their libido.
4. Masturbation is a missing ingredient in your desire (and weight loss) plan:
Well, not JUST masturbation, but anything that brings you sincere physical pleasure that also balances your hormones. And arousal and orgasm are most easily achieved through masturbation, especially if you’re single, or in a sexless relationship.
- Why masturbation is a MUST for increasing female desire: According to the 2009 University of Michigan study[iv], orgasm helps the body release oxytocin, the “love + bonding” hormone, which in turn lowers cortisol,
the main stress hormone chronically elevated in many women (like me!) and lead to stress eating, and weight loss resistance.Higher levels of oxytocin makes us happy, which keeps those emotionally-triggered food cravings for sugars, cheese, and other “happy foods” at bay.
- Too many of us feel only pain and dismay in our digestive and reproductive organs. In my book, Women, Food, And Desire, I tell the story of a client who wasn’t dating, and wasn’t masturbating. She had also been suffering digestion trouble for years, including bloating, gas, and constipation. I took her to Babeland, a clean, well-lit shop for sex toys in Brooklyn, and we talked with a knowledgeable staff member who helped her pick out her first non-toxic vibrator. After a couple of weeks of self-exploration, she noticed a marked difference in her digestion! She felt more relaxed and her digestion trouble had eased significantly. And she certainly had a nice spring in her step. Just start! Even if you’re not an expert, and don’t have your own personal red room of pain, your own digits are ready to help you begin at home. Oxytocin levels are usually increased simply through the physical stimulation of the clitoris, vagina, cervix, and breasts. So even if you don’t reach climax, you’ll still be releasing this powerful neurotransmitter.
- Daydream, girl! Another study[v] reveals that sexy daydreams release testosterone in women – which means, when you read erotic fiction, or watch any kind of porn that excites you, your body will begin anticipating encounter, which naturally raises your libido. Babeland.com has some great options for the desire seeker.
- For the low-libido woman, masturbation can help increase self-confidence in her body, the bedroom, and the boardroom. Whether due to religious beliefs or just closed mindedness, the facts from research by Hogarth and Ingham (2009)[vi] provide clear evidence for the connection between masturbation and a rise in women’s self-esteem. Some of the findings include:
- Women who frequently masturbate are more likely to have achieved a higher level of education, indicating more self-knowledge and less judgment about their body’s desires and self-worth.
- These women are more likely to pursue their personal and career goals, pointing to a higher level of confidence and resilience.
- Women who masturbate regularly are more likely to be involved in a stable relationship.
5. Ending the outdated myths that block our rightful desires:
Since Eve picked that apple in the garden of Eden, women’s bodies and sexual freedom have been the focus of contempt, subjugation, and emotional and physical restriction. Discriminatory laws, often based on religious arguments, are used to control women’s bodies, reproduction, dress, and violate women’s rights all over the world.
In short, it’s scary, sacrilegious, and sinful to be a fully expressed, desirous woman. Even when we don’t personally live in a culture that obviously restricts women’s behavior, the knowledge is there, that to be a woman is dangerous, and sex is unsafe. So we shut our natural desires down in order to remain safe, stay connected to our family, religion, and culture of origin, and stay out of the dangerous “slut shaming” spotlight of our modern age.
In my book Women, Food, and Desire I detail the connection between our sexual desires, cultural pressures, our body confidence, and food habits.
Gender stereotypes have had the side-effect of badly shaping scientific research, and led researchers to mislabel female desire for centuries as more timid, focused on procreation above satisfaction, and designed for monogamy.
Female desire and sexuality is not the rational, civilized, limited force it has been made out to be. In fact, human and animal studies[vii] show that the female body and libido respond to a wider variety of visual and fantasy stimuli than males, and that we objectify, chase, and downright want sex in greater quantities than previously thought.
While female sexuality can be labeled as “more complicated” than that of the male of the species, what we now know about the interplay between nutrition, stress, the effects of prescription drugs, and cultural stigma, is leading to a revolution in removing the blocks between us and our deserved desires.