Sex drive, also known as libido, refers to a person’s interest in sex. A lower libido level means you don’t wish to engage in sexual activity very often, whereas high relates to the exact opposite.
Every person has a unique sex drive, and many factors might affect its level. That makes it a much more complicated matter, and can often be the cause of breakups.
The most common factors that influence libido include:
- Health problems (both mental and physical)
However, when it comes to men, changes in libido levels are much rarer than among women. In fact, if you’re a woman, you’ve probably noticed that your desire for sex changes throughout the month.
Sometimes, that can be caused by hormone changes after tubal ligation. But even if you didn’t go through that procedure, your hormone levels might vary depending on the specific week of the month.
How? By your menstrual cycle, of course. And to be more precise, by its four phases. Below, you’ll find more information on how they can impact your hormones and sexual desire throughout the month.
Types of Female Hormones
But before we get to the main part of the article, let’s answer a few questions regarding your hormones. As you probably know, every woman has two main hormones – estrogen and progesterone.
What are the differences, and how do they affect your libido? Let’s find out.
Estrogen is the major female hormone. It’s mainly produced in ovaries, with small amounts being created in fat cells and adrenal glands. Aside from libido, different estrogen levels can also impact your brain, hair, and cardiovascular system.
The amount of estrogen varies depending on a person. However, certain ranges are widely considered normal. They’re measured with the use of picograms per milliliter (pg/mL):
- Adult female before menopause: 15 -350 pg/mL
- Adult female postmenopausal: <10 pg/mL
The ovaries produce progesterone after ovulation. Like estrogen, progesterone levels depend on an individual, and its main role includes supporting pregnancy, preparing the lining of the uterus, and suppressing estrogen levels after ovulation.
How the Menstrual Cycle Affects Your Sex Drive
Sexual desire and the menstrual cycle are closely linked. But the impact of each phase on your sexual behavior is more than just physical. The menstrual cycle can also influence how you feel, or your moods. Which, in effect, significantly affects your libido.
Keep in mind that the context in which you have sex is as critical as the activity itself. That’s why the way you feel, both mentally and physically, impacts your sexual arousal.
And how do different phases of the menstrual period influence your hormones and libido? More on that below.
During the first stage of the cycle, called the menstrual phase, all of the female hormones are at their lowest levels. How does it impact your libido, though? The answer is a little more complicated than you may think.
Why? Because it can either turn you on or make you not even want to think about sex. That’s why for every woman who feels an urge for sex, there’s one that experiences something entirely different.
During the second phase of the cycle, both estrogen and progesterone begin to rise. It makes you feel more energized, and thanks to that, hornier.
Many females are much more sexually active during the follicular phase, initiating sex more often and taking charge in the bedroom more willingly.
During this period, your estrogen peaks just before ovulation, only to decrease significantly right after it occurs. The same goes for your testosterone.
The ovulatory phase is the time when you can notice your desire increasing, especially during the days leading up to ovulation. Many females masturbate and fantasize more often during this period, and their sex drive is on the highest level.
It also connects to more vaginal discharge, which increases the sensations, making it much easier to turn you on.
Progesterone rises in your body during the luteal period, peaks halfway through, and decreases if pregnancy doesn’t occur. Estrogen also starts to rise slowly, only to drop right before you start bleeding.
When it comes to your sex drive, it’s most likely to decrease significantly. You may notice it especially if you deal with PMS symptoms that impact your mood and body image.
Also, progesterone makes you more anxious, which isn’t exactly a turn on.
As you can see, the menstrual cycle plays a huge role in your sex life, not only in terms of physicality but also in your moods and hormones affecting your sexual desire. Of course, every woman is different and, therefore, can experience her period differently.
Aside from the menstrual cycle, your libido can also be affected by:
- Birth control methods
Considering how many factors can impact your desire, it’s good to know your body and monitor it for any changes. It will help you determine whether your lack of sexual desire is natural or may be caused by changes in your lifestyle.