Just like women, sometimes men need a little boost in the bedroom – but unlike women, they’re far less likely to do anything about it! Capsule spoke to naturopath Lucy Briant for some tips for kick-starting your fella’s drive and increase libido should he need a little help this men’s health month.
For men, in particular Kiwi men, looking after their health can often take a back seat (tell us something we don’t know, right?!). Men visit their GPs 50% less than women do, and in general are more reluctant to talk about their health, often down-playing symptoms. Often it is the women in their life that notice any health changes.
Lucy Briant is a naturopath, nutritionist and medical herbalist with a passion for natural health solutions, providing complimentary consultations and natural health advice as one of two in-house naturopaths at Good Health.
“For many men, the way they live their 30s will shape their reproductive health,” shares Lucy. “The month of November is generally viewed as men’s health focus month in New Zealand—particularly focusing on supporting mental health, prostate and testicular cancer.
“The role that libido plays in a healthy relationship and ultimately your mental health is important, as the symptoms of a reduced libido can affect self-esteem, confidence and sexual performance. So what happens when you’re in the mood, but your man isn’t? Thankfully there’s a multitude of natural solutions to kick-start your man’s engine again, which can make a sensitive conversation easier to approach when the solutions don’t seem so scary.
So here are eight ways that you can support libido, naturally:
1. Sleep Habits
The relationship between sleep and libido has, surprisingly, little research to speak of; however we all know that sleep is essential for repair and renewal, and a consistent lack of restorative sleep could have deleterious effects on a man’s reproductive health and, consequently, his libido. In one small sleep study on a sample of young, healthy men, who underwent one week of sleep restriction to five hours per night, testosterone levels were decreased by 10% to 15%. By comparison, normal ageing is associated with a decrease of testosterone levels by 1% to 2% per year. Symptoms and signs of androgen deficiency include low energy, reduced libido, poor mental focus, and increased sleepiness, all of which may be produced by sleep deprivation in healthy individuals.
Research suggests that weight-lifting and muscle building is better at relieving stress, supporting healthy testosterone levels and sex drive, than cardio exercises. Regardless, a growing body of evidence indicates physical fitness is associated with sexual health. Several Harvard studies have found moderate exercise can boost sex drive and support healthy erectile function. In another study on the effects on hormone levels and libido of the intensity and duration of exercise, researchers found that men whose exercise routines were moderate or light in intensity or duration were far more likely to have optimum levels of testosterone and report a healthy libido than those whose exercise routines were intense and prolonged. Additionally, interventional studies have found obesity to be a causal factor in sexual dysfunction, with symptoms improving as weight-loss is achieved, so remaining fit and slim, with a healthy muscularity is going to keep your sex-drive going into old age.
3. Stress Relief
When we are stressed, the body prioritises dealing with the immediate threat; reproduction and sex drive, and digestion, take a back seat. Chronically elevated cortisol and stress hormones inhibit gonadal function, decrease androgen levels, including testosterone, and result in a declining sex drive or libido, even causing erectile dysfunction or impotence. Chronic stress can also negatively impact sperm production and maturation, as testosterone is essential for sperm production. Researchers have found that men who experienced two or more stressful life events in the past year had a lower percentage of sperm motility and a lower percentage of sperm of normal size and shape, compared with men who did not experience any. Of course, stressful things happen but it is how we cope with them that matters. What can we do? Meditation, breath work, yoga practices, and mindfulness have been shown to mitigate the physiological effects of stress.
4. Sunlight Therapy
Research shows that getting natural light into your eyes and (safely) on your skin is essential for optimum health. The light spectrum at sunrise triggers hormonal cascades that fluctuate as the light changes throughout the day. UVB light triggers a skin-brain-gonadal axis through the activation of the p53 gene in skin cells and this positively correlates with circulating testosterone levels. In addition, sunlight lowers cortisol and stress hormones and initiates nitric oxide release – supporting blood flow, vascular function, and blood pressure. It supports circulation healthy metabolism, and our circadian rhythm. UVB light initiates vitamin D3 conversion through the skin and D3 deficiency is associated with fertility issues. Preliminary research in Italy found that light box therapy, used to simulate sunlight in treatment for Seasonal Affective Disorder, supported healthy serum testosterone levels and lead to “greater sexual satisfaction” in a group of Italian men. You do not want to sit in the midday sun and burn your skin but sensible exposure to sunlight appears to be hugely beneficial for libido and fertility in general. Stay sun safe and cover up when necessary.
5. Maximising Diet
When studying healthy and long-living primitive humans, in the 1930s, Weston A. Price discovered that young couples about to conceive were given highly nutrient dense organ meats, eggs, shellfish like oysters (where available), and animal fats to support fertility. These foods were all rich in the specific nutrients for a healthy reproductive system – amino acids like L-carnitine, taurine, and L-arginine, zinc, boron, calcium, copper, selenium, iron, DHA, EPA, DPA, cholesterol, and vitamins C, A, D, E, folate, B12, and other Bs. Whatever your dietary philosophy, the focus should be on whole foods, while avoiding modern, ultra-processed and packaged junk, industrial seed/vegetable oils, and refined carbohydrates. Meat, organs, fish, seafood, eggs, and traditional dairy products, if tolerated, contain the fats, proteins, and vitamins and minerals that provide the building blocks for the hormones, enzymes, neurotransmitters, and healthy tissue in a well-functioning reproductive system.
6. Relationships and Intimacy
A satisfying romantic relationship and healthy familial relationships and friendships help with managing stress and enhancing well-being. Intimacy is the characterised by the experience of strong feelings of closeness, connectedness, and bonding. Building intimacy and strengthening your relationships by putting more effort into romantic gestures, support and appreciation, scheduling dates (romantic or non-romantic) and intimate or fun moments, having independence yet being vulnerable, has been shown to have appositive effect on libido in both males and females. Furthermore, the inner life of a person is closely connected with how they cope with stress, so self-talk and how you treat yourself are important for a healthy physiology and libido.
7. Decreasing/Eliminating Alcohol and drugs
Alcohol has many acute effects on reproduction, including interfering with signals between the brain and the genitals during sexual arousal, but chronic drinking and drug-taking has been shown to lower testosterone levels and sex drive. Many prescribed medications can lower libido and so avoiding the need for medication is another good reason to put effort into remaining healthy and vital.
8. Herbs and Supplements
Some reproductive function issues can be traced back to simple nutrient deficiencies, such as zinc, and supplementation may be useful. In other cases, herbs that are known to support the male reproductive system can be utilised. One study found that ashwagandha supported sperm count and motility, and levels of reproductive hormones, and it may act as an antioxidant, protecting sperm cells from damage caused by oxidative stress. Ginkgo may support blood flow to the penis during sex and maca root, fenugreek, shilajit, tribulus, and ginseng have all shown the ability to support healthy testosterone and sperm levels, shape, and motility.
It’s no secret that oysters are a known aphrodisiac. Good Health’s Oyster Plus is a natural source of marine nutrients including Zinc and Taurine to benefit health and vitality, with extra zinc added for reproductive and immune support. Vigor is another one of our Men’s Health products, which combines high quality New Zealand deer velvet with Siberian ginseng and zinc to encourage stamina and resistance. Vigor has been formulated specifically for men to support reproductive health and optimise performance and wellbeing.
Always read the label and use as directed. If symptoms persist see your healthcare professional. Weight management products should be taken in conjunction with a healthy diet and exercise. Good Health, Auckland. TAPS PP9609.
About Lucy Briant:
An ex-actor, Lucy retrained as a holistic lifestyle coach and a naturopath and has been practising for 9 years and 3 years, respectively. Lucy is passionate about nutritional, herbal, and lifestyle medicine and is committed to furthering the integration of complementary and mainstream modalities.
About Good Health:
Good Health is a proudly New Zealand founded and operated business, started over a quarter of a century ago by John Blanchard. John’s agricultural career background led him to become fascinated with the health benefits of herbal and oil seed crops, so much so that in 1987 he opened the doors for business, and Good Health began.