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How Hormonal Imbalance Affects Libido

Updated: Jul 12

If you’re struggling with your libido and your menstrual cycle, there’s an important factor in gaining hormonal balance that you might have overlooked: pleasure.

The endocrine system in your body (that’s the hormonal system) affects both the cycle and libido, so working on one aspect, like your cycle, will often mean bringing the other into balance too.

It’s important to recognise that libido is rarely (if ever) always at one level, and the same goes for your hormones. Oestrogen, progesterone and testosterone are important hormones in your menstrual cycle, and they fluctuate as you progress from one period to another. These fluctuations can directly affect how you experience sexual desire, lubrication and sensation in intimacy, as well as how your brain functions.

While you can find lots of information on how to balance hormones with diet or exercise, pleasure is an important factor too. Feeling pleasure in your body (and life in general) positively impacts your hormonal system by increasing dopamine and serotonin, often called feel good or happy hormones. And a six-second hug is enough is enough to release oxytocin, a.k.a the love hormone, which is also released in a rush after an orgasm or childbirth.

Oxytocin is what helps strengthen the bonds between lovers, or parents and their children.

Stress on the other hand, increases cortisol and adrenaline which, in the long term, can disrupt the way the hormonal system works. It can directly delay or even stop ovulation by reducing oestrogen, enhance PMS, or even become a factor in fertility due to insufficient progesterone.

When we’re stressed, we’re in fire-fighting mode and the idea of pleasure can feel far away with good reason. If we’re stressed, the body deprioritises pleasure in favour of survival which used to mean running from predators, but nowadays means the ping of mobile phones, constant availability and social media.

Actively choosing to have and maintain a pleasure practice is a way of balancing the hormonal system because it’s like a chain reaction. The improved levels of neurotransmitters (like dopamine and serotonin) leads to less cortisol and adrenaline, which the body interprets as less stress, which leads to a smoother experience of the cycle and libido.

But of course, it’s not all science. Much of what happens in the cycle and how we connect to sexual desire is also energetic and many of the Fembodiment™ practices include energetic work exactly for this reason.

Connecting to pleasure often means slowing down enough to identify it, and when you’re slowing down, it can signal safety to the body. Working with chakras can also mean working directly with your hormonal system - for example, the Third Eye is located at the Pituitary Gland, another important gland for our hormones.

Working with the breasts can produce oxytocin and there are even practices that can increase vaginal lubrication, and that’s also something that our hormones have a say in. And of course, creating more pleasure and blood flow to the womb and genitals increases circulation, which is vital for a healthy menstrual cycle.

A regular Fembodiment™ pleasure practice is much like a regular yoga or exercise practice. It can feel great in the body, but it also has an effect on how our bodies function, which in turn makes it more likely for us to want to do more of it, creating a positive feedback loop.

If your hormonal system is well balanced, your menstrual cycle is balanced thanks to a healthy amount of the hormones needed and the sexual desire that the cycle is ultimately there for.

Whether you take a more scientific or embodied approach, understanding the importance of pleasure means that you can enhance both your libido and your menstrual cycle, as well as maintaining not only sexual wellbeing, but hormonal wellbeing too.

Natalie Martin is an Author, Menstrual Cycle & Life Coach and recently she became a first-time mum to her beautiful son. She is also a Certified Level-1 Year-1 Fembodiment™ Method Facilitator and a guest blogger at The Fembodiment™ Institute.

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