Dr. Jess on Sex: How to liven up your libido after having kids
Last month, I sat down with four groups of moms from all corners of the city to discuss sex after kids. Though their questions and concerns were diverse, one theme emerged in each group: low libido is a common source of relationship distress for both men and women. So I spoke with four local experts who offer advice for boosting libido simply and naturally.
Dr. Crystal Chanderbhan, naturopathic doctor, Greeniche Natural Health, highlights herbs and natural supplements to promote sexual desire: maca, ashwagandha and vitamin B: “Oftentimes when patients complain of low libido, it’s related to hormonal dis-regulation or adrenal burnout. Maca helps to supplement the adrenal glands, which work overtime in response to chronic stress. It helps to alter the body’s perception of stress to reduce the cortisol production — the stress hormone that kills libido.”
She notes the adaptogen ashwagandha positively affects sleep, mood, energy levels and immune system function, which in turn boost libido. Since our desire for sex is intricately tied to our overall mood, she also recommends a “good quality vitamin B complex taken daily. This provides the necessary foundations to make healthy amounts of neurotransmitters in the brain that help to regulate mood.”
Toronto-based dietitian Shauna Lindzon agrees that mood influences libido and advises clients to avoid foods and beverages that make you feel sluggish or interfere with sleep. The top culprits? Alcohol and caffeine. She says to practise moderation while seeking foods that promote a good night’s sleep: cherries, for example, are a source of melatonin, the hormone that helps regulate the body’s circadian rhythm.
Foods that are high in zinc will increase libido (e.g., seafood, oysters, whole grains, legumes) as will citrus fruits for their vitamin C content and milk and milk alternative products, which are vitamin D fortified.
Alongside food, exercise is essential. Health and fitness expert Nikki Bergen says, “Exercise increases circulation, reduces stress and regulates hormones. Building muscle mass increases our testosterone levels, which boost sexual drive in both men and women.” Bergen’s program, the Belle Method, is particularly tailored to boosting libido, as it targets a strong functional pelvic floor, the same muscles activated during sexual response and orgasm.
Registered psychologist Dr. Oren Amitay says resentment also leads to a dip in desire. He recommends couples talk about resentment, work on it, engage in activities to reconnect: “Go dancing: it has the same benefits as exercise and fosters a physical connection that encourages your bodies to be in sync.”
Wherever you may find (or not find) your libido today, my advice is to take it easy and be patient.