“How’s your libido?” is a common question we ask patients when they come to Yinova for infertility treatment. More often than not, the answers are, “Well, not so great” or “having to have sex on demand is stressful” and “it’s just not fun anymore!”
If this feels familiar, please know you are not alone. In fact, according to the American Public Health Association, 66.7% of couples say infertility treatment spoiled their sex lives.
While going through infertility, stress can wind up being one of the main causes of low libido. Chronic stress causes the body to release cortisol and when cortisol goes up, libido, and the ability to become sexually aroused, goes down.
If you are constantly worrying about the timing of ovulation, the fertile window, or your partner’s work schedule – it makes having sex feel like a chore. Here are some ways to help reduce stress and to reclaim your sex life, even while navigating infertility.
Acupuncture and Chinese Herbs
Everyday stress and low libido due to stress are two issues we are well equipped to help with at Yinova. Your practitioner can help to address the main causes of your stress (even outside of infertility) and boost your libido through acupuncture treatments, customized herbal formulas, and acupressure points that you can do at home.
It may be wise to consult a sex therapist or look into couples therapy. It can be helpful to identify emotional stress triggers and help partners communicate better to achieve their desired level of intimacy.
Moving around can help you to stay relaxed, reduce any anxiety you may be feeling, help you sleep better, and can give you more energy – all of which can help reduce stress and boost libido!
Regular exercise moves qi in and alleviates any qi stagnation associated with poor sexual response. Moving around can help you to stay relaxed, reduce any anxiety you may be feeling, help you sleep better, and can give you more energy – all of which can help reduce stress and boost libido! Because exercise makes the blood flow and the nervous system fire, patients often tell me that they have more energy for sex immediately after exercising. Bearing this in mind, you may want to incorporate a half an hour of yoga or qi gong before bedtime to give your sexual energy a boost.
Foods that help boost libido
In Chinese medicine, we always look at the internal organs when something is lacking. Sexual drive is connected to the energy of our kidneys, and the balance of yin and yang energies. Though generally lack of yang is focused on for sexual vitality, it is both the yin and yang that must be in equilibrium for one to have the motivation to pursue sex (yang) plus the ability to receive it (yin). However, this equilibrium is not meant to be rigid. As Jill writes, “ You’re aiming for a dynamic balance, not a fixed point and not a precisely even split. For most people, the sweet spot is where either yin or yang is predominant – but only slightly.”
To help nourish both the yin and yang aspect, here are a few suggestions for aphrodisiac foods and spices you can add to your meals:
- Walnuts – the omega 3 fatty acids improves circulation and enhances lubrication
- Oysters – the amino acids/zinc help raise testosterone levels
- Nutmeg, Cinnamon, Cayenne – increases circulation in the body
- Dark Chocolate – releases endorphins & dopamine
- Watermelon – L-citrulline relaxes blood vessels, encourages blood flow for arousal
- Bananas – potassium is good for muscle contraction
Make having sex fun again!
Yes, keeping timing in mind is important, but it doesn’t have to stop being fun! Here’s some advice I let to give my patients:
- Pick out new lingerie
- Read erotic literature with your partner
- Plan a date night that involves candles and a nice home-cooked meal (maybe try incorporating some of the foods mentioned above!)
- Make consistent time to focus on things you liked to do before you got so focused on making a baby
- You can also find some helpful tips from Jill Blakeway’s book, Sex Again, which looks at helping couples recharge their libidos.
Keep in mind that one of the most important things is to relieve stress. If finding ways to turn sex into something fun, rather than a chore, becomes a chore itself then it may be helpful to pause and regroup.