In my series of posts for American Heart Month, we’ve explored that taking care of the physical heart is important, but just one aspect of optimizing our cardiovascular system’s functioning. It is now known that the heart-brain connection and the state of coherence, the synchronization of our physical, mental and emotional systems, has been associated with significant wellness outcomes. Furthermore, it has been demonstrated that mood, stress, hormones, and relationships have powerful effects on the heart as well as the whole body.
Thankfully, all of these factors can be positively influenced through lifestyle, nutrition, mind-body practices and wellness tools, such as essential oils.
When You Want to Connect, but Don’t “Feel Like It”
Perhaps one of the biggest influencer on our overall health is human connection. In fact, forced isolation has been used as torture for prisoners of war. Furthermore, the perception of isolation has been deemed a major risk factor for mortality, unwanted symptoms, and many disease conditions. At the same time, ambivalence and dysfunctional connections can cause stress and detrimental influences on our body, mind, and spirit.
The good news is that healthy relationships are associated with positive health effects. They can be fostered and nourished, but effort and willingness to participate is a necessary commitment needed for both parties.
Sometimes digging into the multi-dimensional aspects of relationships, especially intimate connections, can be triggering but well worth it. Recently, a study with 22 heterosexual couples demonstrated that a partner could ease the pain of their sweetie through syncing their brainwaves by simply holding hands.
One of the most common and undiscussed issues in relationships is the different expectations, wants, and desires of physical connection between partners. This can create conflict or be the result of conflict in relationships. It can result in, or be the related to, other bodily and emotional imbalances. Assessing the quality and presence of relationships should be considered in any health struggle. Practitioners need to be more aware of the impact on their patients as well its prevalence.
Psychology Today writes:
One of the most common sexual complaints among couples is a disparity in sexual desire. Sexual desire can be low for a vast variety of reasons, many of them psychological and interpersonal. But that doesn’t necessarily make it a disorder. It becomes a diagnosable condition only when it diminishes the quality of one’s life and creates distress, or a disparity arises in the sex drives of partners, evolving into a matter of unresolved contention in the relationship. Loss of sexual desire can both result from relationship problems and cause them.
WebMD reports that with men, 1 out 5 has a low sexual desire. It can be bidirectionally connected to psychological and physical conditions.
In a recent cross-sectional study of a sample of 2,020 Australian women aged 40-65, it was determined that the prevalence of low sexual desire in these females was 69.3% (95% CI = 67.3–71.3). Sexually related personal distress was reported at 40.5% (95% CI = 38.4–42.6) and hypoactive sexual desire dysfunction (HSDD) was found to be among 32.2% (95% CI = 30.1–34.2) of the subjects. The authors reported in their results the factors associated with these conditions as follows:
Factors associated with HSDD in an adjusted logistic regression model included being partnered (odds ratio [OR] = 3.30, 95% CI = 2.46–4.41), consuming alcohol (OR = 1.48, 95% CI = 1.16–1.89), vaginal dryness (OR = 2.08, 95% CI = 1.66–2.61), pain during or after intercourse (OR = 1.63, 95% CI = 1.27–2.09), moderate to severe depressive symptoms (OR = 2.69, 95% CI 1.99–3.64), and use of psychotropic medication (OR = 1.42, 95% CI = 1.10–1.83). Vasomotor symptoms were not associated with low desire, sexually related personal distress, or HSDD.
Many hormonal and reproductive health experts acknowledge that libido and sexual connection is the result of complex and multi-factorial aspects. In an article in Townsend Letter, the author explains that the brain, nervous system, hormonal system, blood flow, and lifestyle factors all impact the ability of a man to have a healthy sex drive and erection. For women, Dr. Cabeca reviews the “Four Big I’s” for intimacy barriers from her professional experience. These “Four Big I’s” should be addressed for igniting desire and are stated as:
- Being preoccupied or feeling emotionally unsafe
- Feeling insecure or uncomfortable
- A loss of or lacking libido- in either partner
- Feeling stuck or unable to communicate or express yourself
Summing It All Up for Some Healthy Connection
Lifestyle, hormonal factors, stress, emotions, and relationship quality are all important for sex drive and healthy connection. Interestingly, these run parallel with heart health.
Therefore, the same factors that affect the heart-brain could also be helpful for sexual desire. For example, an integrative practitioner could use their expertise to support someone who is struggling by implementing mind-body practices while addressing the physical factors of inflammation, oxidative stress, and immune deregulation that could be at play. Along with nourishing lifestyle practices and dietary support, essential oils can act in synergy with all of the tools as they further offer balancing effects on hormones, stress, emotions, and biochemical responses.
In an upcoming posting, I am going to review in more detail specific essential oils and their hormonal impacts. These may be considered when dealing with some of the physical imbalances of a low libido.
I invite you to explore all the factors and take an honest look at the “4 Big I’s.” Take a good relationship inventory and decide if you need outside support with a practitioner or therapist to re-ignite the desire and create a more nurturing atmosphere of true partnership and connection.
I continue with this theme on my homepage blog which you can access here.
This material is for information purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, or prescribe for any illness. You should check with your doctor regarding implementing any new strategies into your wellness regime. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. (Affiliation link.)
Disclaimer: This information is applicable ONLY for therapeutic quality essential oils. This information DOES NOT apply to essential oils that have not been tested for purity and standardized constituents. There is no quality control in the United States, and oils labeled as “100% pure” need only to contain 5% of the actual oil. The rest of the bottle can be filled with fillers and sometimes toxic ingredients that can irritate the skin. The studies are not based solely on a specific brand of an essential oil, unless stated. Please read the full study for more information.