Low libido is a decreased interest in sexual activity. It is normal for libido levels to vary throughout life. However, having a low libido for a long period of time may cause concern.
Testosterone is a dominant sex hormone in men. Testosterone is required for muscle and bone mass and stimulating sperm production. Testosterone levels are also important for sex drive.
It is known that decreasing testosterone levels are a normal part of the ageing process. However, if levels drop drastically, it can lead to decreased libido.
Certain medications, for example, blood pressure medications such as ACE inhibitors and beta-blockers may prevent erections. Other medications that can lower testosterone levels include:
Depression: People with depression experience a lack of interest in aspects of life. Low libido is also a side effect of some antidepressants, including serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).
Chronic illness: Including - type 2 diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure and high cholesterol
Insomnia and sleep problems: Sleep apnoea can reduce levels of testosterone[i]. In studies, testosterone levels were decreased by 10 to 15% after a week of sleep restriction to five hours per night [ii].
Ageing: Testosterone levels are linked to libido and they decrease naturally with age.
Stress: arteries can narrow when you are under stress and restrict blood flow, which is a major contributor to some cases of erectile dysfunction.
Obesity: conversely, too little exercise can lead to obesity. It is important to get regular exercise to reduce the risk of developing diabetes or high blood pressure which are linked to low libido. Exercise has been shown to lower cortisol (our stress hormone) at night, which can help to increase libido[iv].
Oysters: oysters are famous for their aphrodisiac properties. The science behind it is that oysters are very high in zinc. Zinc increases blood flow, which may aid blood flow to the sex organs[v].
Berries: Dark-coloured berries such as blackberries, raspberries and blueberries are rich in phytochemicals to enhance libido[vi].
Pine nuts: Rich in arginine, which is converted by the body to nitric oxide, helps to dilate blood vessels. Good circulation is needed for increased libido[vii].
Extra virgin olive oil: boosts circulation[ix].
Broccoli: High in Indole-3-carbinol, broccoli may be a great libido booster in men. Older men may benefit most from the oestrogen-limiting effects of Indole-3-carbinol[x].
Watermelon: Watermelon contains citrulline, which is converted into arginine in the body. These chemicals relax blood vessels[xi].
Zinc 15mg: The use of zinc supplementation has been shown to significantly improve sexual desire and arousal
Anxiety and depression negatively impact libido. Utilising stress management techniques, such as breathing exercises, meditation, and talking therapy may help.
If you are still experiencing problems after trying these diet and lifestyle changes and supplement suggestions, try booking a nutritional therapy consultation with us. Nutritional therapy uses a holistic approach, by assessing the health of each body system we can produce a personalised plan to suit your individual requirements.
[i] Viana, A. et al. (2017) “Nocturnal hypoxemia is associated with low testosterone levels in overweight males and older men with normal weight,” Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, 13(12), pp. 1395–1401. Available at: https://doi.org/10.5664/jcsm.6...;
[ii] Leproult R, Van Cauter E. Effect of 1 week of sleep restriction on testosterone levels in young healthy men. JAMA. 2011 Jun 1;305(21):2173-4
[iii] HACKNEY, A. C. , LANE, A. R. , REGISTER-MIHALIK, J. & O'LEARY, C. B. (2017). Endurance Exercise Training and Male Sexual Libido. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 49 (7), 1383-1388.
[iv] Childs E, de Wit H. Regular exercise is associated with emotional resilience to acute stress in healthy adults. Front Physiol. 2014 May 1;5:161.
[v] Fallah A, Mohammad-Hasani A, Colagar AH. Zinc is an Essential Element for Male Fertility: A Review of Zn Roles in Men's Health, Germination, Sperm Quality, and Fertilization. J Reprod Infertil. 2018 Apr-Jun;19(2):69-81.
[vi] Omotuyi, Olaposi & Ologundudu, A & Onwubiko, V & Wogu, M & Obi, Frederick. (2010). Hibiscus sabdariffa Linn anthocyanins alter circulating reproductive hormones in rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus). Journal of Diabetes and Endocrinology. 1. 36-45.
[viii] Adams PW, Rose DP, Folkard J, Wynn V, Seed M, Strong R. Effect of pyridoxine hydrochloride (vitamin B 6 ) upon depression associated with oral contraception. Lancet. 1973 Apr 28;1(7809):899-904.
Sarapis K, Thomas CJ, Hoskin J, George ES, Marx W, Mayr HL, Kennedy G, Pipingas A, Willcox JC, Prendergast LA, Itsiopoulos C, Moschonis G. The Effect of High Polyphenol Extra Virgin Olive Oil on Blood Pressure and Arterial Stiffness in Healthy Australian Adults: A Randomized, Controlled, Cross-Over Study. Nutrients. 2020 Jul 29;12(8):2272
[xi] Shirai M, Hiramatsu I, Aoki Y, Shimoyama H, Mizuno T, Nozaki T, Fukuhara S, Iwasa A, Kageyama S, Tsujimura A. Oral L-citrulline and Transresveratrol Supplementation Improves Erectile Function in Men With Phosphodiesterase 5 Inhibitors: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Crossover Pilot Study. Sex Med. 2018 Dec;6(4):291-296.
[xii] Kris-Etherton PM, Richter CK, Bowen KJ, Skulas-Ray AC, Jackson KH, Petersen KS, Harris WS. Recent Clinical Trials Shed New Light on the Cardiovascular Benefits of Omega-3 Fatty Acids. Methodist Debakey Cardiovasc J. 2019 Jul-Sep;15(3):171-178.
[xiii] Estrada-Reyes R, Ferreyra-Cruz OA, Jiménez-Rubio G, Hernández-Hernández OT, Martínez-Mota L. Prosexual Effect of Chrysactinia mexicana A. Gray (Asteraceae), False Damiana, in a Model of Male Sexual Behavior. Biomed Res Int. 2016;2016:2987917.
[xi] Dording CM, Fisher L, Papakostas G, Farabaugh A, Sonawalla S, Fava M, Mischoulon D. A double-blind, randomized, pilot dose-finding study of maca root (L. meyenii) for the management of SSRI-induced sexual dysfunction. CNS Neurosci Ther. 2008 Fall;14(3):182-91.
[xiv] Wan, W., Li, H., Xiang, J., Yi, F., Xu, L., Jiang, B., & Xiao, P. (2018). Aqueous Extract of Black Maca Prevents Metabolism Disorder via Regulating the Glycolysis/Gluconeogenesis-TCA Cycle and PPARα Signaling Activation in Golden Hamsters Fed a High-Fat, High-Fructose Diet. Frontiers in pharmacology, 9, 333.
[xv] Jiraungkoorskul K, Jiraungkoorskul W. Review of Naturopathy of Medical Mushroom, Ophiocordyceps Sinensis, in Sexual Dysfunction. Pharmacogn Rev. 2016 Jan-Jun;10(19):1-5
[xvi] Krysiak R, Szwajkosz A, Okopień B. The effect of low vitamin D status on sexual functioning and depressive symptoms in apparently healthy men: a pilot study. Int J Impot Res. 2018 Oct;30(5):224-229.
[xvii] Jiannine LM. An investigation of the relationship between physical fitness, self-concept, and sexual functioning. J Educ Health Promot. 2018 May 3;7:57
[xviii] Harte CB, Meston CM. Acute effects of nicotine on physiological and subjective sexual arousal in nonsmoking men: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. J Sex Med. 2008 Jan;5(1):110-21.
Please note that the information contained within this website does not and should not replace medical advice, and is not intended to treat or diagnose. We always recommend you consult with your doctor. Our Nutritional Therapy team is highly trained and we offer one to one Nutritional Therapy Consultations, which are designed to be complementary to any medical treatment from a functional medicine approach, as well as offering a preventative & optimal health focus.