The Herbal Pharmacist® blog recently published a blog on infertility in men, which received copious amounts of praise. Requests were made for an article for men and women regarding more sexual health concerns. This article will cover topics few wish to discuss, yet the topic needs to be covered. Sexual dysfunction is not a fun topic for those who suffer from it. In short, sexual dysfunction occurs when you have a problem that prevents you from wanting or enjoying sexual activity. For decades, the media and pharmaceutical advertisements have focused most of their energy on promoting products for men, while women have a higher incidence. The numbers don’t lie: Sexual dysfunctions affect 43-percent of women and only 31-percent of men.[i]
According to an article published on familydoctor.com, women have five types of sexual problems, and men have four.
- Desire disorders- No longer interested in sex and having less of a desire than you used to.
- Arousal disorder– You can’t feel a sexual response in your body. As a result, you can’t stay sexually aroused.
- Orgasmic disorder- You cannot have an orgasm or have pain during orgasm.
- Sexual pain disorders- Experiencing pain during or after sex.
- Hormone deficiency- Reduced estrogen (the primary female hormone) can affect sexual desire.
- Erectile dysfunction- Difficulty getting or keeping an erection.
- Desire disorders- No longer having an interest in sex and having less interest than you used to have.
- Orgasm disorder- Premature ejaculation (too early) or delayed (taking longer than normal or not at all).
- Low testosterone- Reduced levels of the male hormone testosterone.
Definition and Descriptions
Desire disorder is when you have little or no interest in sexual relations on an ongoing basis.
Arousal disorder means you’re emotionally in the mood, but your body isn’t into it.
Orgasm disorder means you’re emotionally in the mood, but you have an inability to climax that leaves you frustrated.
Pain disorder involves having pain during intercourse.
Interestingly enough, stress plays a massive role in these areas, here’s how:
It was found that “daily hassles,” not major life events, were related to sexual difficulties. The link between chronic daily stressors and sexual function are related to higher levels of sexual problems and lower levels of sexual satisfaction.
Desire: Low physical and emotional satisfaction and low general happiness are linked to three sexual dysfunction categories, including low desire. (The other two are arousal disorder and sexual pain).[ii]
Arousal: Arousal issues are higher among women with emotional problems or stress. High levels of chronic stress were related to lower levels of genital sexual arousal. Psychological (distraction) and hormonal (increases in the stress hormone cortisol) factors were related to the lower levels of sexual arousal seen in women high in chronic stress. Stress can disrupt the production of gonadotropin (one of the sex hormones produced by either the testes or ovaries), which decreases the production of testosterone and estradiol, both of which are important for female arousal. Chronic stress is also linked to increases in specific nervous system activity, inhibiting blood flow to the genitals and decreasing arousal.[iii]
Orgasm: Simply put, all the other factors can explain why a man or woman may have challenges achieving orgasm.
Erectile dysfunction: There are several reasons men may have a problem with getting or keeping an erection due to stress:
- An increase in vasoconstriction due to chronic stress can decrease blood flow to the penis.[iv]
- Cortisol (the stress hormone produced when you are under stress) production decreases sex hormone production[v]
- The impact on brain signals to the penis can decrease blood flow.[vi]
Sexual Pain: This issue is much higher in women and is often associated with menopause, but there is also a connection with emotional problems or stress. An article from the Mayo Clinic website sites phycological issues and stress as contributing factors for painful sex.
Hormones: Chronic stress can cause the body to produce too much cortisol, which makes the testes less responsive to luteinizing hormone (important for testosterone production) and will lead to lower testosterone levels in men.[vii] The same can be said for women regarding elevated cortisol levels that disrupt testosterone and impact estrogen and progesterone levels.[viii]
What’s a person to do?
First and foremost, address the stress. I have three favorite botanicals that each work great for stress on their own, but I believe that the combination is even more potent because they work for stress are unique and different. The three are affron® (saffron), Zembrin® (Sceletium), and Sensoril® (ashwagandha). Each has its unique mechanism of action to address the mood and stress issues that impact libido and erectile problems. Unfortunately, there are no direct studies with these ingredients about our topic, but they each have clinical proof they work for mood and stress.
Additionally, four unique products support other areas and will contribute to helping resolve most of the areas of concern. The four are: Libifem®, Liboost, Testofen®, and Tesnor™. All three of these ingredients have been studied. Here is why:
Libifem®- addressing desire, arousal, and hormones
Libifem® works excellently for women by supporting healthy hormone levels (estradiol and testosterone ratios) and has been shown to increase sexual arousal, desire, frequency, and satisfaction in healthy women.
Liboost- addressing circulation, libido, and hormones
Liboost helps men by increasing circulation (essential to get blood flow to the penis to get an erection), helps relax the smooth muscles necessary for improved sexual response, and helps balance testosterone levels.
Testofen®- addressing libido and hormones
Testofen® studies show it helps support healthy testosterone levels, promotes sexual desire and vitality, and reduces recovery time following sexual activity. All are beneficial for our topic.
Tesnor™- addressing hormones
Tesnor is unique because it is a blend of two botanicals (cocoa bean and pomegranate peel). Studies with Tesnor show it helps increase testosterone levels.
Chronic stress can wreak havoc on both men and women and the propensity to develop some sexual dysfunction. While stress is not the only risk factor, it should be addressed or considered when taking supplements to help with circulation, libido, and hormones. An example would be to take both affron® and Testofen® together or hit your stress hard with all three ingredients mentioned above and combine them with one or two of these ingredients (Liboost, Testofen®, or Tesnor).
[i] Rosen RC. Prevalence and risk factors of sexual dysfunction in men and women. Curr Psychiatry Rep. 2000 Jun;2(3):189-95. doi: 10.1007/s11920-996-0006-2. PMID: 11122954.
[ii] Boston University School of Medicine Sexual Medicine website https://www.bumc.bu.edu/sexualmedicine/physicianinformation/epidemiology-of-fsd/ Epidemiology of FSD, Accessed March 21, 2022
[iii] Hamilton LD, Meston CM. Chronic stress and sexual function in women. J Sex Med. 2013;10(10):2443-2454. doi:10.1111/jsm.12249
[iv] Lambert E, Lambert G. Stress and its role in sympathetic nervous system activation in hypertension and the metabolic syndrome. Curr Hypertens Rep. 2011;13:244–248.
[v] Lambert E, Lambert G. Stress and its role in sympathetic nervous system activation in hypertension and the metabolic syndrome. Curr Hypertens Rep. 2011;13:244–248.
[vi] Healthy Mail website, How do stress and anxiety affect sexual performance and erectile dysfunction?, https://www.healthymale.org.au/news/how-do-stress-and-anxiety-affect-sexual-performance-and-erectile-dysfunction , May 22, 2020 accessed March 21, 2021
[vii] Afrisham R, Sadegh-Negadi S, SoliemanFar O, et.al., Salivary Testosterone Levels Under Psychological Stress and Its Relationship with Rumination and Five Personality Traits in Medical Students, Psychiatry Investig. 2016;13(6):637-643. Published online November 24, 2016 DOI: https://doi.org/10.4306/pi.2016.13.6.637
[viii] Ranabir S, Reetu K. Stress and hormones. Indian J Endocrinol Metab. 2011;15(1):18-22. doi:10.4103/2230-8210.77573