Sexual Health

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    Let’s talk about sex. Sexual health is important. Having a fun, fulfilling and healthy sex life can make life that little bit sweeter, and we here at Holland & Barrett want to help you achieve that. We sell everything from natural libido-boosting remedies and sexual performance enhancers to female and male fertility supplements, natural sexual lubricants and prostate health products.

    What can cause a low libido?

    Nobody is in the mood ALL the time, and everybody has a different sexual appetite, but what happens when the thought of sex starts to turn you off rather than turn you on?

    Lack of sex drive can be due to a number of factors, including:

    Stress and exhaustion: When we go through stressful periods of our lives like having children, starting a new job, moving into a new house and exercising heavily, sex can often take a back seat. Mental and physical tiredness raises cortisol levels – a hormone that reduces the amount of testosterone we produce and affects the sex drive of both men and women.

    Have you ever been either side of the old ‘I’m too tired tonight’ conversation? If you or your partner are genuinely tired (and not just making excuses!) it can seriously affect sexual desire. Something as simple as getting an extra hour of sleep a night may increase your libido, so maybe let your partner have that lie-in if you want to increase your chances of romance later.

    Hormone changes: Testosterone and oestrogen are the main hormones that influence sexual appetite and if either are out of balance, they can affect your sex drive. The body releases a rush of testosterone in women’s bodies just before ovulation to get them in the mood, increasing blood flow to the vagina and making it more sensitive. But if testosterone levels are low, women may not feel desire for sex at all.

    One of the most common causes of hormonal imbalance happens to half of us, unfortunately, and it’s called the menopause. It can cause vaginal dryness and decrease sexual desire in general. Hormone replacement treatment, using lubrication during sex, and exercise may help fix this issue.

    What can I do about a low sex drive?

    Thankfully, there are a few things you can do to turn a low libido right back around and get you on your journey to fun in the bedroom again.

    Food and vitamins: The food that we eat can contribute to our appetite for sex. Foods that contain polyphenols and antioxidants can stimulate blood flow to our friends down below and increase arousal. Omega-3s found in foods like avocado, and zinc in nuts and spinach could play a part in boosting your sex drive. What’s more, ginseng has said to alter hormones and chilli peppers could stimulate nerve endings, so they may be worth a try – and if they don’t work you get to enjoy their taste anyway!

    Sexual lubrication: Sometimes a lack of lubrication can lead to lacklustre or even painful sex. In a perfect world, foreplay and sexual arousal would be enough to prepare you for satisfying sex with your partner, but sometimes even that isn’t enough. Vaginal dryness can be caused by multiple factors, like:

    • Changes in hormones (hello the menopause…)
    • Breastfeeding
    • Depression
    • Excessive stress
    • Smoking cigarettes
    • Immunity disorders
    • After effects of child birth
    • Rigorous exercise
    • Some medication

    However, all is not lost, you can replace natural lubrication with sexual lubricants. Keeping it natural with water- and plant -based ingredients is best, all while avoiding perfumes, artificial colours or herbal extracts, which may irritate the genitals. It’s also important to note that lubricants like petroleum jelly and mineral oils can damage some birth control methods like diaphragms and latex condoms.

    Male performance: lack of arousal and sexual stamina can make having sex very difficult and sometimes embarrassing. Stress, depression, high cholesterol, obesity, hormonal problems and lots of other health conditions can contribute to male sex issues, but there are things you can do to help solve this issue.

    Losing weight if you are obese, having regular exercise and eating well should all be standard practice when trying to help with limited sexual performance. Additionally, there are supplements out there to help get things going a little smoother in bed – getting that blood flowing and helping to increase sexual desire.

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