The female body manufactures approximately 27 estrogens but only one progesterone. Of it’s myriad of assignments, Progesterone is the primary source of libido or sex drive in women. Because of its crucial role in libido, conception and full-term pregnancy, it is, therefore, referred to as the “pro-gestational” hormone.
Figuring out the Factors
There are numerous influences that affect the libido. Hormonal imbalance, depression, loss of a loved one, illness, body image issues, a history of sexual abuse, poor diet & exercise are among some of the leading contributors to low libido.
In 2008, the Massachusetts General Hospital conducted a study on more than 30,000 women, ages ranging from 18-100. The study showed that 39% of those women suffered from low sexual desire, 43% reported some level of sexual dysfunction, 26% had problems with arousal and 21% had difficulties achieving an orgasm. Women with depression were more than twice as likely to report distress over any type of sexual problem compared to those not suffering from depression.
Due to the various chemical and hormonal antagonist that many women face in industrialized countries, a key point in helping restore balance is to focus on diet and lifestyle choices.
How it Works
Hormones are powerful chemical messengers, that circulate though the body and coordinate complex processes such as growth, fertility, immunity and endocrine health (the word endocrine literally means, secreting internally).
Chemicals, including synthetic hormones (xeno-estrogens), create interference in the proper production and function of hormones, are thus known as endocrine disruptors. Your adrenal and thyroid glands work symphonically to promote sexual hormone balance.Estrogen dominance (too much estrogen, relative to too little progesterone) has been proven to decrease libido in women and inhibit ovarian function.
Role of Progesterone
Reduced ovarian funtion can also lead to low progesterone and low testosterone levels in women. Testosterone is primarily a male hormone but is also present in the female body and, like progesterone, plays an important role in a healthy libido.In clinical studies, women who have low thyroid function also have low libido and low levels of progesterone, while still having normal to high levels of estrogen. Because progesterone has been shown to be essential in helping our cells retain zinc and potassium, elements necessary for the thyroid to create T3, thyroid dysfunction is often caused by low progesterone.
Progesterone facilitates the thyroid hormone according to Dr. Ward Dean, M.D., thus, promoting normal thyroid function, normal metabolism and, of course, normal libido. Conversely, xeno-estrogens are an antagonist to thyroid function, being a primary cause of low thyroid, which can lead to low libido, weight gain and chronic fatigue to mention just a few of the side effects. Understanding how the body functions is the first step to understanding how we can heal the underlying causes for health problems that rob us of optimal health and well-being.
A basic breakdown
Both genders produce the same hormones just differing amounts of each. Mainly testosterone accompanied by other androgens are the primary sex hormones. Testosterone is primarily produced by the adrenal glands and ovaries in women and the testes in men. Studies on sex hormones, which are the cause of desire, have found testosterone to be a leading source of not only male but the female libido. Testosterone levels start rising just before menstration and continue rising until the next ovulation, which is why many women report having a higher libido during this time. One of the more noteworthy antagonist to testosterone is estrogen dominance. A significant natural balancer of estrogen is progesterone, something that we don’t get in our diet, unlike the copious amounts of synthetic and chemically structured estrogens that are in commercially grown food (mainly meat and dairy) and the chemical environment we currently live in. Balancing the estrogen-progesterone phases of the month is certainly helpful in balancing testosterone and therefore an important biological aid to normalizing the female libido.