The gut is home to billions of bacteria, archaea and fungi. These microorganisms affect everything from your intimacy with your partner to your mental health.
Hippocrates once said that all diseases begin in the gut, and this includes sexual disorders. Who knew that the way to a great sex life is through the gut system?!
Mood, desire, and arousal
Serotonin — the happy hormone — keeps you less anxious and depressed.
About 95 percent of serotonin is produced in the gut; and if your gut is unhealthy, then your mind and body might not be able to respond to sexual stimuli as they normally would. Low serotonin is associated with a low mood, decreased sex drive, and less enjoyable sex.
Gut bacteria helps your body make B vitamins and regular blood sugar, which are essential for energy production. If your gut bacteria gets messed up, you can experience more — and longer lasting — energy dips.
So the next time you feel “too tired for sex,” that could probably be your gut health asking you to nourish it.
Many people with gastrointestinal issues, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), report experiencing performance anxiety due to the fear that they’ll have an IBS episode in the middle of intimate activities.
Anxiety and fear can affect libido and make it harder to get in the mood for sex. IBS can cause other intimacy issues as well: men with IBS are more likely to develop erectile dysfunction, while women feel pain during sex.
How do you know if you have gut problems?
If you’re experiencing any of the below symptoms, it might be time to see a gastroenterologist:
- brain fog
- achy joints
- shifts in mood
- sleep disruption
- sugar cravings
- weight fluctuations
You might be recommended to do an endoscopy, colonoscopy or a scan of your abdomen to find out what’s up. The doctor also may be able to check your microbiome for abnormalities by sending a stool sample for testing.
Even if your libido isn’t messed up, it’s still a good idea to see the doctor to help address the problem.
How can you keep a healthy gut?
Many gastrointestinal disorders are associated with dysbiosis, or an imbalance of bacteria in the gut. Probiotics — the good yeasts and bacteria — may help. Some examples are yogurt, kimchi, pickles, and miso.
Getting regular exercise, especially cardiovascular workouts, can keep your gut healthy. Moving around causes the microbes in your system to bump into one another, essentially sparking chemical reactions. Naturally, this creates more diversity in your microbiome.
Try to get around 150 minutes of cardio exercise in a week, whether that means several 30-minute jogs or some quick bike rides around your neighborhood.
Gupta, A. (September 1, 2022). Did you know that your gut can affect your sex life? Here are 5 ways. Health Shots. Retrieved from February 27, 2023 from https://www.healthshots.com/intimate-health/sexual-health/gut-and-sex-life-here-are-5-ways-gut-issues-affect-sexual-health/
Kassel, G. (January 4, 2021). Could Probiotics Improve Your Sex Life? Unpacking the Gut-Sex Connection. Healthline. Retrieved from February 27, 2023 from https://www.healthline.com/health/healthy-sex/probiotics-gut-sex-life
Lathrop, M. (n.d.). How Gut Health Can Affect Intimacy. Ombre. Retrieved from February 23, 2023, from https://www.ombrelab.com/blogs/mood/gi-problems-and-sex#:~:text=Gut%20Health%20and%20Intimacy&text=In%20fact%2C%20research%20has%20shown,situations%20as%20they%20normally%20would