Health

How the Ketogenic Diet Can Affect Your Libido

Published on: March 11, 2019

How the Ketogenic Diet Can Affect Your Libido

Reduced libido is common as we age and it’s more common after your 30s. Lower sex drive can negatively impact the quality of life in men and women. We’re going to discuss the causes of low libido and how the keto diet can help improve it.


What Is Libido?

Libido is defined as a person’s overall sexual drive or desire, and it can be influenced by biological, psychological, and social factors. Lifestyle choices, medical conditions, and certain medications can also affect libido.

Sexual desire disorders are often under-diagnosed in both men and women because not many people are willing to speak about it with their doctor. Loss of libido can have a negative impact on the quality of life, especially in those who are in a sexually active relationship.


Common Causes of Low Libido

Menopause

Many menopausal women experience loss of libido to some extent before and after menopause [1]. This is due to the drop in estrogen levels which can contribute to lower sex drive in many ways. For example, some menopausal women avoid sex because of pain due to vaginal dryness.

Lower levels of estrogen can reduce blood supply to the vagina and cause vaginal dryness. Menopausal women also go through other symptoms such as stress, insomnia, depression, and bladder control problems that can also lower sexual desire.


Low confidence about appearance

Men and women who don’t feel happy about their appearance may experience low sexual desire. This is more common in those who are overweight or obese.


Low testosterone

Testosterone is an essential male hormone responsible for sperm production in men. Testosterone levels below 240 nanograms per deciliter (ng/dL) can lower libido [2]. Some common causes of low testosterone are aging, certain medical conditions, stress, and alcohol and drug addiction.


Higher levels of prolonged endurance exercise

A 2017 cross-sectional online survey study found that higher levels of prolonged endurance training regularly was significantly associated with lower libido in men [3].


close-up-image-of-woman-putting-white-round-pill-in-mouth

Certain medications

Some medications can lower testosterone level which can contribute to decreasing libido. Examples of medicines that can reduce testosterone include corticosteroids, morphine, ketoconazole, and cancer treatments.


Restless leg syndrome (RLS)

RLS is the uncontrollable urge to keep moving your legs, especially when you’re sleeping. For instance, a 2013 study found that men with RLS are more likely to develop erectile dysfunction than those without restless leg syndrome [4].


Depression & stress

Stress and depression can have a negative impact on all aspects of your health. Some of the most common causes of depression and stress include relationship problems, breakup, divorce, the death of a loved one, and career failure.

Those who develop chronic depression will often stop showing interest in participating in their favorite activities and may also have lower sexual desire. Some antidepressants can also reduce libido.


Sleep problems

Those who have chronic sleep problems can have a lower sex drive because of the mood swings, stress, and fatigue associated with poor sleep.


Aging

Testosterone levels decrease steadily after the age of 30, and this can contribute to lower sex drive in men.


row-of-different-colors-alcohol-shots-on-a-table

Excess alcohol

Drinking excessive alcohol has been linked to reduced testosterone production [5].


Does Keto Increase Libido?

There are many ways the ketogenic diet can help increase libido. One such way is by making someone feel great about their physical appearance. A boost in self-confidence can go a long way when it comes to sexual desire. Below are some of the ways the keto diet can help increase libido.


Benefits of Keto in Low Libido

Sex hormones

Polycystic ovary syndrome is a hormonal disorder that affects millions of women worldwide, and it has been associated with low libido in women. A 2016 study found that sexual dysfunction was present in 62.5% of patients with PCOS [6].

The ketogenic diet has been found to have a positive impact on polycystic ovary syndrome.

Researchers have found that women who have PCOS tend to have less diverse microbiome than women who don’t have it. They’ve concluded that improving the diversity of microbiome may help treat PCOS [7]. Keto diet has been found to have a positive impact on microbiome [8].

Another way the keto diet can help improve PCOS symptoms is by enhancing insulin resistance.


Weight loss

As stated earlier, a simple boost in self-confidence can go a long way when it comes to libido. Weight loss can help men and women feel good about themselves and increase their confidence.

One of the widespread benefits of the keto diet is weight loss. A lot of overweight and obese people have successfully lost weight on the ketogenic diet. For instance, a 2004 study found that the ketogenic diet significantly reduced weight and BMI in obese patients [9].


Energy

Fatigue is one of the most common causes of low libido in men and women. A common health benefit that most ketoers talk about is the improved energy levels and mental clarity while being on the keto diet.

The keto diet can also help improve physical performance which in turn can help increase sexual desire.


Keto Foods That Can Help Boost Libido

Foods that help increase libido are known as aphrodisiacs. Here are some keto friendly foods that can help increase libido:


Dark chocolate

Chocolate has been found to release phenylethylamine and serotonin which produces aphrodisiac and mood-lifting effects [10]. Since stress and bad mood are associated with low libido, consuming some dark chocolate regularly can give a boost by releasing phenylethylamine.

kiss-my-keto-ketogenic-chocolate-roasted-almond

Broccoli

Broccoli is a rich source of Vitamin C and thus can help increase libido by improving blood circulation to sexual organs.


Other keto friendly foods that can help improve libido are:

  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Spinach
  • Salmon
  • Eggs
  • Sardines

Takeaways

  • Low libido, also known as reduced sexual desire or drive, can have a negative impact on the quality of life in men and women. It often goes underdiagnosed because not many people are willing to discuss it with their doctor.
  • Some of the common causes of low libido are low testosterone, low estrogen, lack of self-confidence and self-esteem, excess alcohol, stress, and depression.
  • The ketogenic diet can help improve libido in many ways such as improving self-confidence via weight loss, improving energy and physical performance, and by helping with hormonal disorders such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).

References

  1. Sarrel PM. Sexuality and menopause. 1990 April - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2179787/
  2. Mayo Clinic Laboratories. Testosterone clinical information. Test ID: TTFB Testosterone, Total, Bioavailable, and Free, Serum - https://www.mayocliniclabs.com/test-catalog/Clinical+and+Interpretive/83686
  3. Hackney AC et al. Endurance Exercise Training and Male Sexual Libido. 2017 July - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28195945
  4. Li Y et al. Prospective Study of Restless Legs Syndrome and Risk of Erectile Dysfunction. 2013 April - https://academic.oup.com/aje/article/177/10/1097/101065
  5. Rivier C. Alcohol rapidly lowers plasma testosterone levels in the rat: evidence that a neural brain-gonadal pathway may be important for decreased testicular responsiveness to gonadotropin. 1999 January - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10029201
  6. Dashti S et al. Sexual Dysfunction in Patients with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome in Malaysia. 2016 - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27644611
  7. National Institutes of Health. Science Update: Restoring gut microbiome may help women with polycystic ovary syndrome. 2018 February - https://www.nichd.nih.gov/newsroom/news/020218-PCOS
  8. Ma D et al. Ketogenic diet enhances neurovascular function with altered gut microbiome in young healthy mice. 2018 April - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5923270/
  9. Dashti HM, MD PhD et al. Long-term effects of a ketogenic diet in obese patients. 2004 - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2716748/
  10. Afoakwa EO. Cocoa and chocolate consumption – Are there aphrodisiac and other benefits for human health? 2008 - https://works.bepress.com/emmanueloheneafoakwa/90/

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