When your libido is lacking, sometimes you know exactly why. Maybe you’ve fallen out of attraction for your partner. Or sex hurts. Or you just had a new baby, and lack of sleep is really cutting into your desire. But sometimes, you’re actually not sure what’s going on. In those cases, it’s important to look at a range of possible causes. And you might be surprised to find out that a deficiency in vitamin D could be a culprit. Let’s explore why.
What Can Vitamin D Do for Your Sex Drive?
Vitamin D, aka the sunshine vitamin, is manufactured by your skin in response to sunlight. It’s also found in some foods. With worries about an increase in vitamin D deficiency, more people are popping supplements to ensure they’re getting enough. After all, the benefits of adequate D include a strong skeleton, immune health, and a decreased risk of diabetes---and quite possibly, a better sex drive.
The Vitamin D and estrogen connection
Estrogen is a reproductive hormone that is made in the ovaries and testes and is necessary for pregnancy, sex drive, and sperm production. Some research shows that postmenopausal women who are deficient in Vitamin D are more at risk for metabolic syndrome, which can impact your happiness in the bedroom. Having metabolic syndrome—a cluster of conditions such as high blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol, as well as excess belly fat—is associated with lower sex drive, trouble orgasming, and less satisfaction with sex compared to metabolically healthy women, research shows.
The Vitamin D and testosterone connection
The relationship between vitamin D levels and testicular hormonal function in men has not been clearly established. Though, not all researchers agree, men who are deficient in vitamin D may be more likely to have lower testosterone levels, which affects their sex life. Most notably, correcting this gap has been shown to improve erectile function.
For women, there’s some indication that high-dose vitamin D supplementation may help improve hormone levels, including decreasing testosterone, in women who have polycystic ovary syndrome, a condition where a woman’s ovaries overproduce male hormones.
Can too much Vitamin D cause problems with sex drive?
It’s unclear if taking too much vitamin D is going to drag down your libido, but there are other reasons not to overdo it. Too much can lead to vitamin D toxicity, which can eventually cause bone and kidney problems, says Mayo Clinic. Take painful kidney stones, which will---without a doubt---kill your sex drive when you have them. (Though, that will be the least of your problems at the time.)
Can vitamin D supplements boost libido?
hey just might. Although, there’s a caveat: It’s unlikely that if you already have sufficient D levels that taking more of the vitamin will turn you into a sexual powerhouse.
However, if you’re deficient or merely low, vitamin D may be worth exploring, suggests one study by Polish researchers that looked at women ages 20 to 40 years old. Taking vitamin D bumped up sexual desire and improved orgasm and sexual satisfaction---and enhanced their mood, too. The results were the most pronounced in the women who started the study most severely deficient in D. Researchers suspect that the vitamin improves the cardiovascular system, nervous system, and hormone function, all of which factor into sexual desire. Similarly, other research also shows that women with sexual dysfunction are more likely to have lower vitamin D levels compared to a control group.
When it comes to men, research is conflicting. According to research in the Journal of Endocrinology. sufficient levels of vitamin D are associated with higher levels of testosterone and better erectile function. What’s more, the researchers concluded that supplementing with vitamin D improves sexual function. After taking vitamin D, the men saw their testosterone levels rise and they were better able to get and maintain erections. Why? Vitamin D affects blood vessel health (and erections need proper blood flow). D is also an antioxidant, which protects the cells that line blood vessels and play a key role in helping them relax, bolstering blood flow. (Not all studies show that supplementing raises testosterone, but it’s worth talking to your doctor about.)
A deficiency in D is also linked to chronic diseases, such as type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure and cholesterol, all of which can impair erectile function. It’s important to note that D wasn’t found to rev up libido directly, but if erectile function is improved, you may natural have a stronger sex drive.
How to know if your sex drive needs a boost of vitamin D (and exactly how to go about it)
Remember that libido is multifactorial, meaning there are so many factors that influence your sex drive, including medication, stress and fatigue, hormonal changes, medical conditions, sexual problems that make sex painful or affect your ability to orgasm, and relationship issues, notes Mayo Clinic. It’s important to assess what’s really going on with you and what may be influencing your readiness to slip in between the sheets.
If you suspect that a lack of vitamin D may be to blame, getting a simple blood test can check your levels. That might be through Base’s Sex Drive Testing Plan. The Men’s Hormone Precursors Test is specifically designed to test hormone and vitamin D levels in men.
Your PCP can also order this blood test. Men who have questions about low-testosterone or erectile dysfunction treatment or lack of sex drive can consult a urologist. For women, speak to your gynecologist.
If you are low in vitamin D, there are several ways to boost your levels. One is through food: Fatty fish, such as trout and salmon, are excellent sources, two eggs or fortified milk also provide D, says the National Institutes of Health (NIH). If you are eating a plant-based diet, look for UV-exposed mushrooms (check the label to verify), fortified plant milk, cereals, or orange juice. The NIH recommends that adults 19 to 70 get 600 IU of vitamin D per day, and your doctor may recommend more depending on your levels and health history. Sun exposure also delivers D, though you should still wear SPF when you go out---some UV rays will still sneak through even protected skin, says the Skin Cancer Foundation.