Are you one of the 40% of women who are suffering in silence from sexual dysfunction?
There is something you can do about it!
It's not an easy subject to discuss. In part because we don't always like to admit that we're not coping with something, especially something so intimate and private. The reality is that you are not alone!
Studies reveal that over 40% of women worldwide suffer from various symptoms that dramatically impact their participation and enjoyment of sex (1).
Sexual dysfunction can be classified as recurring and persistent physical and psychological factors that affect your desire and interest in sex.
Many women experience an occasional lack of interest and the associated physical problems, and it's worth looking at how stress and hormonal imbalance play a role.
Much work has been done on male erectile dysfunction – it's discussed openly, and various therapeutic options are available for treatment. Unfortunately, the female side of the coin has been largely ignored. Many women live with varying sexual health issues that never get addressed.
Female sexual response is a complex issue, and often women live with unfulfilling sex lives, struggling with feelings of inadequacy and guilt - assuming it's either a normal part of the aging process (and therefore must just be tolerated) or they don't feel comfortable seeking help and discussing their problems.
The knock-on effect on relationships and quality of life can be devastating. Unfortunately, doctors are often reluctant to discuss sexual health with patients, as they are not always comfortable broaching the subject.
The good news is that readily available media – like the internet – provides us with resources and information that we have never previously been able to access. Now, women are increasingly looking for solutions to these problems. They have a safe forum to learn more and know they are not alone.
Herbal supplements like Ashwagandha are becoming increasingly popular to support sexual health and address some physical symptoms. Among the many amazing benefits of taking Ashwagandha, studies show that daily use may dramatically boost libido (2)!
This isn't really surprising, as Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) has been used for over 3000 years in Ayurvedic medicine to promote longevity, vitality, and happiness.
So, let's take an honest look at Female Sexual Dysfunction together, unpack some of the causes, and see how you can take charge of your life!
What is female sexual dysfunction?
Truth be told, it's a multidimensional and complicated condition, influenced by many factors, including age, health, and living conditions. But for now, let's keep it simple and focus on how mood, stress, and hormones contribute to the situation.
Female sexual dysfunction is intricately linked to mood disorders. Using natural mood-regulating substances can dramatically impact women, where the leading cause of the dysfunction is hormone imbalance and stress-related anxiety and depression.
Mood-related sexual dysfunction can manifest as:
- Low sexual desire – the most commonly experienced symptom.
- Sexual arousal disorder – when you may be interested in sex but cannot become aroused or maintain arousal.
- Orgasmic disorder – when you cannot achieve orgasm, even with appropriate stimulation.
- Sexual pain disorder – when you experience pain during sexual intercourse.
Numerous underlying factors can affect a woman's enjoyment and willingness to participate in sexual activities, such as previous negative sexual experiences, overwhelming stress, fatigue, low self-image, cultural or religious ideas of sexual behavior, lack of trust/ intimacy in the relationship, and even an early loss of a parent or family member can have lifelong negative effects on how we view personal connections.
It is important to note that you should seek guidance and advice from your qualified health practitioner if you suspect you have a medical condition. You should consider therapy and counseling if you have experienced sexual trauma or abuse.
A few causes of female sexual dysfunction
Your body depends on various interconnected systems to function optimally; chemical regulation affects physical functions and vice versa. Sexual problems can develop when your hormone levels are unbalanced and when the sustained stresses of the world have you living in a "fight or flight "state.
Many interrelated physical issues can contribute to sexual dissatisfaction and dysfunction include:
- Physical. Medical conditions, including kidney problems, cancer, thyroid problems, and heart disease, can lead to sexual dysfunction. Certain medications, including antidepressants, blood pressure medications, and chemotherapy, can decrease sexual desire and your body's ability to become aroused or experience orgasm.
- Hormonal. Imbalances in the hormonal system can wreak havoc on the body's ability to function correctly. The endocrine system is delicately balanced. The effects of stress, lack of quality sleep, insufficient exercise, and even poor diet all impact your hormone levels and dramatically impact sexual health.
- Psychological. Depression and anxiety can lead to or exacerbate sexual dysfunction. Long-term stress and the demands of daily life often lead to disinterest and not finding the time to take care of yourself and nurture the physical side of your relationships.
What are some of the effects of stress on women?
Your body's primary stress hormone is cortisol. It controls your mood and other essential functions such as fighting inflammation, regulating blood pressure, regulating your sleep/wake cycle, etc. When you're under high stress, your body increases cortisol levels. After the "danger" has passed, your cortisol levels should lower again. But if you're under sustained and constant stress, your body produces more, and that's where you run into numerous problems (3).
STRESS: It's something we can't escape! Adults aged 30 to 49 are among the most stressed group of people worldwide, and it's likely attributed to the pressures of earning a living and raising families simultaneously.
We know how busy life can get. There never seem to be enough hours in a day to get all the things done that demand your attention!
Most of us understand the damaging effects of stress on our bodies, its impact on our emotional well-being, and our ability to fight off illness. But we don't always know where to start making changes.
Sustained stress raises cortisol levels, which can lead to adverse health problems and symptoms, including:
- Trouble sleeping
- Fatigue & listlessness
- Inability to focus & concentrate
- Feelings of being overwhelmed by simple tasks
- Decreased sex drive
- Lowered self-esteem
- Compromised immune system
- Weight gain
- Feelings of isolation and loneliness
People worldwide are increasingly looking at natural remedies to address their health issues. We know that the solutions to many modern ailments lie in returning your body to a balanced state - working with nature instead of against it! As we rediscover the ancient herbs and remedies through modern science, a more holistic way of life is more achievable for everyone.
Ashwagandha root extract is used to treat sexual weakness, low libido, and performance anxiety in men. It has been advocated to alleviate diminished sexual desire in women and all forms of sexual dysfunction, mainly where a depleted nervous system is playing a role (4)
Could Ashwagandha play a role in improving symptoms of Female Sexual Dysfunction?
Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) is an evergreen shrub native to the Indian subcontinent. "Indian ginseng," as it's sometimes referred to, has been used in traditional Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years to increase energy, and reduce inflammation, pain, and anxiety. It is well-known to improve sleep and general well-being.
Ashwagandha is a remarkable adaptogen -- a substance or plant extract that increases the body's ability to resist the damaging effects of stress and promote or restore normal physiological functioning. In clinical trials, Ashwagandha has been shown to significantly improve sleep quality and reduce stress and anxiety (4).
It helps protect the body from stress, as it has effectively decreased cortisol levels (5).
There is encouraging evidence to suggest that when taken as a daily supplement, Ashwagandha root powder can have a notable impact on the factors implicated in Sexual Dysfunction.
One particular study aimed to determine the efficacy and safety of a high concentration Ashwagandha root extract supplementation for improving sexual function in healthy females (2).
There are a few ways in which Ashwagandha seems to be of benefit in addressing Female Sexual Dysfunction.
Ashwagandha supports lower cortisol levels and helps improve mood.
It's no secret that depression, anxiety, and sexual dysfunction often go hand-in-hand, as women under chronic stress are usually less motivated toward sexual activities. The addition of fatigue and a busy lifestyle can increase sexual arousal difficulties.
Stress is associated with increased cortisol levels in the bloodstream, associated with gonadal and sexual dysfunction (5).
Ashwagandha may be beneficial for normalizing thyroid function in sub-clinical hypothyroid issues.
Low thyroid hormone can cause fatigue, depression, and low sexual desire. In fact, the prevalence of Female Sexual Dysfunction was 46.1% in test subjects with thyroid diseases and 20.7% in the control group in a study specifically looking at how thyroid problems affected sexual health (6).
Ashwagandha seems to offset androgen deficiency syndrome.
Androgens are hormones that contribute to reproduction in both men and women. As women age, their androgen production gradually tapers off. Symptoms of androgen deficiency in women include loss of muscle mass & strength, tiredness, loss of libido, low mood, and lack of motivation.
We usually associate testosterone with men, but it's also produced in women in much smaller amounts. It is crucial in regulating weight, mood changes, and low libido. Ashwagandha for women can support this balance (3).
Some holistic ways to nurture your intimate relationships!
You can do many things to encourage a closer emotional bond with your partner.
Small things can go a long way in contributing to better sexual experiences together.
Building trust, respect, and emotional connection are essential in maintaining a healthy relationship and are important in creating a safe space for mutually satisfying sexual experiences.
- Prioritize time for sexual activity. Constantly multitasking and being busy with work, caring for children or family, and the multitude of other responsibilities women have, leave little time (or energy) for quiet time with your partner. Still, it's essential to allocate alone time.
- Communicate. Work on communicating openly with your partner about sex and expressing your feelings without judgment.
- Remove the pressure to have sex. Find ways to promote intimacy by doing other things like simply kissing, holding each other, having a bubble bath together, giving each other a massage… there are many ways to increase intimacy.
- Spend time together doing everyday things, like preparing dinner, enjoying a movie night on the couch, having a picnic, or going for a walk. Try doing anything that you enjoy with your partner, and you'll see the benefits in the bedroom.
- Make time for yourself. Women spend a disproportionate amount of time in service to others in some way. Working, caring for children, partners, extended family, household chores, and being involved in the community or church.
It might sound counter-intuitive to say that you can improve your relationship by being alone, but being alone, without the mental, physical, and emotional demands of others, is crucial to your well-being!
Do something that recharges you: meditation, going for a walk, reading a book, or doing some gardening. Absolutely anything that allows you to focus entirely on yourself!
Relaxation and mindfulness practices can make a massive difference to your happiness.
Ashwagandha - the ideal support for woman's problems?
Women face unique challenges in maintaining a stable physical and emotional equilibrium. Many interdependent elements are involved in female physiological processes that are affected by lifestyle, diet, sleep quality, and state of mind, to name a few.
The ancient Ayurvedic practitioners understood the importance of Ashwagandha, and thanks to modern science, we are now finally able to access its potent benefits in a convenient form.
Ashwagandha addresses many of the issues you struggle with and can make a difference in how you experience your quality of life.
The health benefits are undeniable from the boardroom to the bedroom, and you owe it to yourself to feel great!
Ashwagandha has many proven health benefits, including:
- Antioxidant properties
- Natural stress support
- Supports the immune system
- Hematopoietic benefits (helps in the creation of blood cells)
- Natural anxiety reducer
- Natural mood enhancer
- Improves sleep quality
- It supports focus and memory
- It helps support normal blood sugar levels
- Supports healthy cholesterol and triglycerides
As Ashwagandha is a natural product that works to balance the body gently, it may take a few weeks for you to start feeling the benefits. But be patient and start taking care of your body in other ways as well.
What to look for in an Ashwagandha supplement
We know that supplements are not all created equal. You should always ensure that your product contains the highest quality ingredients to ensure efficacy and value for money.
Look for certified, organic ingredients and products that are independently checked for quality.
The recommended dosage for best results
Ashwagandha is generally well tolerated by most people. Since this herb has been used for thousands of years, its use and interaction with the human body are well documented. Excessive doses, such as taking multiple daily servings, may result in digestive problems like diarrhea, nausea, or vomiting. Therefore, DO NOT exceed the recommended dosage; always consult your healthcare professional before starting this or any supplement. They know your medical history and are in the best position to advise you correctly.
Safety & side effects
Ashwagandha is generally considered safe for healthy people without medical conditions. However, unless instructed by your doctor, do not take Ashwagandha if you:
- Are pregnant
- have hyperthyroidism
Note: This article is for informational purposes only and not intended for use as medical advice. Always consult your healthcare provider before starting any dietary supplement.