Most of my practice is filled with male patients looking for alternative options to manage their hypertension, diabetes, and prostate disorders. Most of the time they don’t see me until these conditions are far advanced, however, there’s nothing that will get a man into see his doctor faster than faulty equipment down south. I see many cases of erectile dysfunction and when it’s the reason they’re coming in, it’s always a recent development.
Low libido and erectile dysfunction (ED) are two separate conditions, but are often found together, especially if ED came first. As an example, a man who is having difficulty maintaining an erection will often become depressed and embarrassed around the thought of sexual events which can lead to a loss of libido. In my practice, when low libido is the primary complaint and independent of ED, it’s often simply from too much stress.
The reason stress can effect libido is due to an endocrine phenomenon called “pregnenolone steal”. Libido is largely controlled through hormones and these hormones are affected greatly by stress. In order to manufacture the androgens necessary for a healthy libido you need a hormone called pregnenolone. As you can see in the diagram to the right, pregnenolone goes through a series of enzymatic reactions to become testosterone. Of course, pregnenolone can also become cortisol if the enzymatic reactions are pushed to the left side of the diagram.
One of the primary simulators of cortisol manufacture is stress. Stress comes in various forms; such as emotional, mental, and physical stress. During periods of mental and emotional stress it’s very common to have a decrease in libido, due to excessive cortisol production “stealing” pregnenolone from androgen production. In this case, the cure for low libido isn’t libido enhancing herbs or ED pharmaceuticals like Viagra. It’s finding a way to better manage stressors. The best way to do this would be of course to liberate yourself from those things that cause you stress, however, this isn’t always going to be possible. This is where natural therapies such as; adaptogenic herbs, meditation, and diaphragmatic breathing become essential to resolving low libido.