Lesson 3: Hormones and Libido

Hormones and libido


Estrogen is the primary female sex hormone. Both high and low levels of estrogen can affect a woman’s sex life. The female reproductive system depends heavily on balanced hormones for mental, emotional, and physical wellbeing – including a healthy sex drive. Estrogen can get out of whack from health conditions such as PCOS, dieting, exposure to hormone-disrupting chemicals, birth control medications, perimenopause and stress. Another cause of estrogen imbalance is low progesterone.


Progesterone levels begin to decline after age 30 (decades before estrogen). And there is a more dramatic decline in progesterone levels around menopause. The need for progesterone spans a lifetime, and once the ovaries stop producing it, the body will generally continue (to a lesser degree), providing it via the adrenal glands and nerve cells. Progesterone protects against low sex drive and depressed moods as it’s the ‘feel-good’ hormone.  Women can have low progesterone at any age, but progesterone levels are sometimes nearly non-existent at perimenopause and menopause.


While testosterone is primarily a male hormone, women do require low levels of testosterone for a healthy sex drive. Low levels of testosterone can lead to loss of libido. Low levels of DHEA can also affect a woman’s sex drive.


Cortisol levels fluctuate daily due to stress and other hormonal shifts. If you feel tired all the time, drained and overwhelmed,  it's possible your cortisol levels are out of whack. If your adrenals are not producing the right amount of cortisol, it can be hard to get enough energy to just get through your day - let alone for sex!

Thyroid Hormones

When your thyroid is underactive, it can mess with your sex hormones and cause you to gain weight. An underactive thyroid also makes you tired and can put you in a bad mood. Experts suggest that thyroid disfunction is a cause of low sex-drive in both women and men.