ANOTHER EFFECT OF SUGAR
Besides the belly fat, when men consume too much sugar or simple carbohydrate, they begin making less testosterone (they are said to have "LOW T"). Although the result is certainly a lower sex drive, low libido is only the tip of the iceberg.
When women consume too much sugar, just the opposite occurs --- they make too much testosterone (HERE). Not only does this cause a diminished sex drive as well, but it tends to cause copious amounts of body hair as well as infertility.
SUGAR FEMINIZES MEN / SUGAR TURNS MEN INTO WOMEN
Have you ever heard of SKINNY FAT (sometimes referred to as MONW)? In a study from a 2013 issue of PLoS One (Prediabetes Is Associated with an Increased Risk of Testosterone Deficiency, Independent of Obesity and Metabolic Syndrome), eight Taiwanese physicians and researchers concluded that, "current evidence suggests that the causative relationship between testosterone deficiency and diabetes might be bidirectional, or even multidirectional and interrelated with obesity, metabolic syndrome, sex hormone-binding globulins (SHBG), and other factors." In other words, whichever comes first is not so important since either one can cause the other.
A 2009 issue of the Argentinian journal, Arquivos Brasileiros de Endocrinologia & Metabologia (The Role of Testosterone in Type 2 Diabetes and Metabolic Syndrome in Men), concluded that, "Over the last three decades, it has become apparent that testosterone plays a significant role in glucose homeostasis and lipid metabolism. The metabolic syndrome is a clustering of risk factors predisposing to diabetes mellitus type 2, atherosclerosis and cardiovascular morbidity and mortality. The main components of the syndrome are visceral obesity, insulin resistance, glucose intolerance, raised blood pressure and dyslipidemia (elevated triglycerides, low levels of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol), and a pro-inflammatory and thrombogenic state. Cross-sectional epidemiological studies have reported a direct correlation between plasma testosterone and insulin sensitivity, and low testosterone levels are associated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus." This is saying that not only is the person described here a heart attack / stroke looking for a place to happen, it's only a matter of time before things stop working in the bedroom.
Another 2009 study, this one from the Journal of Andrology (The Dark Side of Testosterone Deficiency: Metabolic Syndrome and Erectile Dysfunction) stated, "The metabolic syndrome is considered the most important public health threat of the 21st century. This syndrome is characterized by a cluster of cardiovascular risk factors including increased central abdominal obesity, elevated triglycerides, reduced high-density lipoprotein, high blood pressure, increased fasting glucose, and hyperinsulinemia. Reduced androgen levels [testosterone and precursors] increase cardiovascular risk factors and produce marked adverse effects on cardiovascular function. Metabolic syndrome has been associated with erectile dysfunction, and may be considered a risk factor for erectile dysfunction." Like I said, ED is probably the least of your worries once this vicious cycle starts spinning.
One of the things that DIABETES and blood sugar dysregulation does is foul up the body's ability to circulate blood --- one of the chief reasons (along with NEUROPATHY) that virtually all diabetics struggle with foot ulcers. Be aware, however, that this lack of blood flow is not confined to feet, but affects the genitals as well. Not surprisingly, ED is the result. But it's actually much worse than initially appears as far as sugar turning men into women is concerned, and as you might suspect, it has to do with THE ENDOCRINE SYSTEM.
Did you realize that body fat (adipose tissue) --- particularly the belly fat packed around your internal organs --- has the potential to act as it's own estrogen-producing gland (HERE, HERE, or HERE)? If you cruise on over to PubMed and search the term "Adipose Tissue as an Endocrine Organ," you'll find page after page after page of studies --- hundreds of them --- that have either this exact name or a similar variation. Here's one from a 2013 issue of the kidney journal, Seminars in Nephrology (The Adipose Tissue as an Endocrine Organ), where the authors concluded that, "Since 1994, white adipose tissue was recognized as an endocrine organ and an important source of biologically active substances with local and/or systemic action called adipokines. Inappropriate secretion of several adipokines by the excessive amount of white adipose tissue seems to participate in the pathogenesis of obesity-related pathologic processes including endothelial dysfunction, inflammation, atherosclerosis, diabetes mellitus, and chronic kidney disease." Hold on to your seats because here is where the train start to go off the rails.
Although there were about 2,500 studies in this specific topic, I'm going to leave you with just one --- a piece of research from last September's issue of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Reports (Extra-Gonadal Sites of Estrogen Biosynthesis and Function)........
"Recent evidence indicates that estrogens play important roles in the immune system, cancer development, and other critical biological processes related to human well-being. Obviously, the gonads (ovary and testis) are the primary sites of estrogen synthesis, but estrogens synthesized in extra- gonadal sites play an equally important role in controlling biological activities...... Adipose tissues are considered to be the major source of circulating estrogen after the gonads in both men and women, and the contribution made by the adipose tissues to the total circulating estrogens increases with advancing age."
If you did not grasp the importance of this paragraph, read it until you do. As you get older --- or fatter --- your fatty tissues are going to make more estrogen. If everything were in perfect HOMEOSTASIS, this would be wonderful as your body fat takes the place of your post-menopausal ovaries. The problem is that with ESTROGEN DOMINANCE already being a huge issue in both females and males here in America, we can begin to see how BELLY FAT (visceral adiposity) is affecting our population, setting up a vicious cycle of obesity and hormonal disruption.
And in case you were not aware, estrogen is the hormone given to commercially-raised livestock (beef & pork) in order to make them fat (peer-review frequently refers to commercially-raised animals --- particularly beef --- as "obese"). Estrogen is why the average woman carries about 10% more body fat than the average man. While men certainly need a bit of estrogen to function normally, anything more than that is a problem --- a big problem. Enter the Endocrine Disruptors and Aromatases (yes, they are affected by sugar because NAFLD (Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease), caused mostly by being overweight, dramatically affects your ability for your liver to clear excess hormones (HERE).
I recently showed you how we are all being exposed to a vast array of XENOHORMONES (most of which are estrogen-based 'obesigens') and ENDOCRINE DISRUPTORS. In case you think that this is no big deal, let me hit you with a study from the 2007 of a Spanish journal Revista de Investigacion Clinica (Endocrine Disruptor Compounds and their Role in the Developmental Programming of the Reproductive Axis). This study showed that, "Different perturbations during fetal and postnatal development unleash endocrine adaptations that permanently alter metabolism, increasing the susceptibility to develop later disease, process known as "developmental programming." Endocrine disruptor compounds are widely spread in the environment and display estrogenic, anti-estrogenic or anti-androgenic [anti-testosterone] activity; they are stored for long periods in the adipose tissue. The effects on the reproductive axis depend on the stage of development and the window of exposure, as well as the dose and the compound. The wide distribution of endocrine disrupting compounds into the environment affects both human health and ecosystems in general." In other words, many of us --- maybe most of us, whether male or female --- are being doused in estrogen from conception to death, and unfortunately, the problems it's causing are "permanent". And we wonder why our hormones are screwed up.
The commonest medical solution for men with Low T is giving them testosterone in various forms. While this sometimes helps for awhile, the results are usually short-lived. This is because your body's stunted / altered feedback loops are not only not addressed by this method of therapy, it actually makes the situation worse. Why? It's common knowledge that when men take Anabolic Steroids, their own testicles, sensing that there is plenty of testosterone in their system, shut down production. And this doesn't even begin to address the issue of STRESS.
When we get stressed, (the stress can come in numerous forms including emotional, physical, and / or dietary --- ie JUNK FOOD and JUNK CARBS) we release the ADRENAL HORMONE, cortisol. Among other things, cortisol makes us fat (see previous link). Bear in mind that it is impossible to solve adrenal issues without first addressing blood sugar. And unfortunately, the hits keep coming.
If you have not heard of aromatase, you need to become informed. According to Wikipedia, "Aromatase, also called estrogen synthetase, is an enzyme responsible for a key step in the biosynthesis of estrogens. It is CYP19A1, a member of the cytochrome P450 superfamily that catalyze many reactions involved in steroidogenesis. In particular, aromatase is responsible for the aromatization of androgens into estrogens. The aromatase enzyme can be found in many tissues, as well as in tissue of endometriosis, uterine fibroids, breast cancer, and endometrial cancer." Since we have a P-450 ENZYME that among other things, turns testosterone into estrogen, it's critical that we figure out what upregulates it.
As might make sense, aromatase inhibitors are used by the medical community to block estrogen in women dealing with BREAST CANCER. Interestingly enough, I found a number of studies from mainstream medical journals touting various anti-inflammatory HERBS, vitamins (C and D) or other compounds that act as inhibitors of estrogen as well. For instance, just two years ago, the Asian Pacific Journal of Cancer Prevention (Inhibitory Aromatase Effects of Flavonoids from Ginkgo Biloba Extracts on Estrogen Biosynthesis) concluded that, "Our results support the usefulness of flavonoids in adjuvant therapy for breast cancer by reducing estrogen levels with reduced adverse effects."
As far as upregulating the aromatase enzyme, I found almost 10,000 studies on the subject. And although there are slews of studies about biochemical compounds that I've frankly never heard of before, the big picture is fairly clear. What do I mean by "Big Picture"? A few years ago, the journal Molecular and Cellular Endocrinology (Aromatase Up-Regulation, Insulin and Raised Intracellular Estrogens in Men, Induce Adiposity, Metabolic Syndrome and Prostate Disease) put it this way.
"For some years now, reduced testosterone levels have been related to obesity, insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, benign prostatic hypertrophy and even prostate cancer, with little attention paid to the important role of increased estrogen, in the pathogenesis of these chronic diseases. Testosterone is metabolized to estradiol by P450 aromatase, to increase estradiol concentration at the expense of testosterone. It follows therefore, that any compound that up-regulates aromatase, or any molecule that mimics oestrogen, will not only increase the activation of the mainly proliferative, classic ER-α, estrogen receptors to induce adipogenesis [obesity] and growth disorders [cancer / endometriosis] in oestrogen-sensitive tissues.... This paper simplifies how stress, xeno-oestrogens, poor dietary choices and reactive toxins up-regulate aromatase to increase intracellular oestradiol production."
The authors went on to explain how the described situation is related to insulin resistance, fat deposition (especially around the midsection), metabolic syndrome, BPH, PROSTATE CANCER, obesity, gynecomastia [man boobs], Type II diabetes, low testosterone, and increased estrogen levels in men, among many others.
Although I came across many similar, I also found a study in a 2010 issue of Toxicology Letters (Bisphenol A-induced Aromatase Activation is Mediated by Cyclooxygenase-2 Up-regulation in Rat Testicular Leydig Cells) showing that the combination of inflammation and BPA created, "increased aromatase gene expression and its enzyme and promoter activity, but reduced testosterone synthesis; increased COX-2 mRNA expression and promoter activity, the production of prostaglandin E(2) (PGE(2)), and the gene expression of PGE(2) (EP2 and EP4) receptors." PGE2 and the COX-2 enzyme are both extremely inflammatory (COX-2 INHIBITORS are ultra common in Western Society).
And finally, we get to the hormonal FUBAR that occurs thanks to brain dysfunction (HPA-AXIS). When the body is low on either sperm or testosterone in males, the feedback loop kicks in and tells the HYPOTHALAMUS to send out a hormone called GRH (Gonaditrophin Releasing Hormone). This acts on the PITUITARY GLAND, telling it to release FSH to make sperm and LH to make both testosterone and SHBG. Any number of brain dysfunctions or certain kinds of drugs (particularly THIS MED taken by over 10% of the American population) can throw a monkey wrench into this pathway, leading to all sorts of dysfunction with the sex hormones.
SUGAR MASCULINIZES WOMEN / SUGAR TURNS WOMEN INTO MEN
PCOS is the number one female issue in America, affecting approximately 10% of the women of child-bearing age (some studies say the actual number is closer to 1 in 5) --- more than half of which are unaware or undiagnosed. Intimately linked to INSULIN RESISTANCE, there are many who believe it is another manifestation of diabetes / pre-diabetes in similar fashion to the way that Alzheimer's is widely known in the scientific community as TYPE III DIABETES. And while numerous stories and studies will tell you that PCOS is genetic, at best this is only partially true. Like hundreds of other health issues with a genetic component, the problem is far more related to EPIGENETICS than genetics.
Because there are no definitive blood or lab tests, the diagnosis is usually made clinically. What does it look like? The tell-tale cluster of symptoms includes....
- EXCESS TESTOSTERONE: Along with IR, this is the symptom that drives the others. Be aware that as I showed you earlier, testosterone overproduction is often the result of overproduction of LH (luteinizing hormone), which is a pituitary hormone. Another theory gaining traction in the scientific community is that this excess testosterone is the result of Androgen Receptor Resistance (HERE) --- which, kind of like Insulin Resistance, simply means the body has become "resistant" to the effects of testosterone (often times because the receptor sites are saturated), telling the body to make even more. While this is certainly true, It's hard to argue that it's not ultimately the result of IR.
- EXCESS HAIR GROWTH: Known as "hirsutism" medically, women with PCOS will grow hair in places they otherwise would not (particularly the face), as well as growing excess body hair in places they normally would. Interestingly enough, it is not uncommon to see women with PCOS develop or begin to develop male pattern baldness --- sometimes confused with THYROID ISSUES --- which are also not uncommon with PCOS.
- ACNE: ACNE (including "backne") is a common sequelae of PCOS.
- INFERTILITY: Already discussed and left a link.
- CHRONIC FATIGUE, ALTERED MOOD, AND LOW LIBIDO: All of these are characteristic of excess testosterone in women. Even though testosterone is the hormone that drives libido in both men and women, when women get too much of a good thing, it becomes a bad thing --- a very bad thing. For the record, realize that PCOS is one of the myriad of health issues considered to be "inflammatory". DEPRESSION is on this list as well.
- WEIGHT ISSUES: Women with PCOS have, or eventually will have if they are currently teenagers, difficulty losing weight. And, as we have already discussed, a common scenario is to see women who have man-like bellies (Central Obesity). As for those of you who say that this can't be your issue because you are normal weight, make sure to check out my earlier link on "Skinny Fat".
- DARKENING OF THE SKIN AROUND THE NECK: Known as "acanthosis nigricansis," it also occurs beneath the breasts and in the groin areas.
- SKIN TAGS: These are usually found in the armpit or the neck region.
- SLEEP APNEA: SLEEP APNEA is extremely common in women with PCOS.
Although the most common medical treatments include androgen-blockers, DIABETES DRUGS, STATINS, and going on "The Pill," these aren't very effective over the long term, while creating an array of extremely nasty SIDE EFFECTS. Be aware that plugging "PCOS" into PubMed brought up 12,500 studies to wade through. Although I only looked through a few dozen, not surprisingly I found plenty linking it to Endocrine Disruptors. Some others included CHRONIC SYSTEMIC INFLAMMATION, reduced TREGS (making you susceptible to AUTOIMMUNITY), increased HOMOCYSTEINE and decreased GLUTATHIONE levels, not enough VITAMIN D, OSTEOPOROSIS, and NAFLD. If I had more time, I could have found studies linking it to any number of others.
WHETHER MALE OR FEMALE, WHAT SHOULD YOU
DO IF YOU RECOGNIZE YOURSELF IN THIS POST?
Although there might be any number of people dealing with the situations discussed in today's post who could use some help from a FUNCTIONAL MEDICINE SPECIALIST, the truth is, many of you --- probably the majority of you (possibly even the vast majority of you) --- can start addressing this crisis on your own. And here's the doubly cool part of all this. I've given you a generic protocol free of charge (HERE) for helping resolve the behind-the-scenes inflammation. Getting started might be the hardest thing you've ever done, but after a week or two, it gets easier. Stick with it and you may even end up with results like THIS.
MEDIA ADDICTED AMERICA
(PHONES, PORN, VIDEO GAMES, AND ELECTRONIC MEDIA)
"The thing is, no matter what you think of pornography (whether it’s harmful or harmless fantasy), the science is there. After 40 years of peer-reviewed research, scholars can say with confidence that porn is an industrial product that shapes how we think about gender, sexuality, relationships, intimacy, sexual violence and gender equality — for the worse." Dr. Gail Dines from the Washington Post's April 8 issue (Is Porn Immoral? That Doesn’t Matter: It’s A Public Health Crisis)
Well, they say it's kinda fright'nin' how this younger generation swings.
You know, it's more than just some new sensation.
From Van Halen's 1980 Album, Women and Children First (And the Cradle Will Rock)
Electronic media has created a monster; a society --- particularly the younger segment of society --- that, no matter where we are -- out with friends, in church or school, walking down the sidewalk, eating out with the family, or driving down the highway --- can't seem to put down our collective phones. Thus, we shouldn't be surprised that according to many experts, using electronic media of some sort is virtually non-stop; particularly for the younger crowd. From the time they wake up, to the time they go to sleep.
The Kaiser Family Foundation's 2010 study, Generation M2: Media in the Lives of 8 to 18 Year-Olds revealed that when two devices were used together (i.e. phone and laptop), it brought the total time spent with media to over 10.5 hours per day. But that study was done nearly seven years ago. The situation has gotten more extreme since then. What do people think of their own cell phone use?
A study published one year ago this month in the medical journal PLoS One (Beyond Self-Report: Tools to Compare Estimated and Real-World Smartphone Use) concluded that, "Estimated levels of smartphone use have previously been related to sleep, interpersonal relationships, driving safety, and personality. Here we observe that self-reported estimates of phone use relate moderately to actual behavior in such situations." The problem was, in this study, the population underestimated by half how much time they spend on their phones. "Actual uses amounted to more than double the estimated number." Honestly, none of this is really news. But what about video games?
I grew up in the pinball age, but well remember when games like Pong, Space Invaders and Pac Man came on the scene in the late 70's and early 80's. Looking back, these games are utterly simplistic compared to what's out there now. Some of the latest games have extensive and in-depth story lines, and the graphics are incredibly life-like. This combination makes gaming extremely enticing; particularly to young males. Instead of going outside, building forts, and playing war or 'good guys and bad guys', you can play anything, anytime you want, from the comfort of your living room / bedroom. Which begs the question of just how enticing / addicting are video games?
According to a three and a half year old study / survey from the people who give us TV ratings, Nielsen (Multi-Platform Gaming for the Win), "As gaming companies continue to release everything from next generation consoles to hyper-addictive mobile apps, today’s gamer has a vast array of options to choose from. Players aged 13 and over spend more than six hours a week on any gaming platform. That’s a 12 percent increase from the 5.6 hours they spent with gaming platforms in 2012. And what’s more, U.S. console gamers are diversifying the devices they play on, as 50 percent say they also play games on a mobile or tablet device, up from 35 percent in 2011. This multi-platform trend suggests that the introduction of new platforms isn’t cannibalizing gaming time. Rather, it’s strengthening gamer engagement." Extrapolating these figures would put current video game usage at almost an hour a day, seven days a week. But this doesn't really take into account the hardcore gamer.
It's amazing how many parents and grandparents I've talked to who complain about little Johnny's video game habits. "That child will spend 16 hours in front of that TV playing those damn games unless I make him move." This isn't' really surprising. What is surprising is that when researching video game addiction for this post, just how many treatment centers there are nationwide. For instance, Video Game Addiction dot org (Never Too Old for Video Games) said that, "Video games and computer games are heavily marketed toward teens and young adults, but recent studies show the average video game addict is 35 years old. The research also shows that compulsive gamers are fatter and more depressed than the general population. The study, conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Emory University and Andrews University, analyzed data from more than 500 adults ranging in age from 19 to 90 in the Seattle-Tacoma area. The researchers found significant correlations between playing video and computer games and a variety of health risks...." But as you will begin to see, this study is barely scratching the surface of this problem (as a side note to this, I recently treated an individual for wrist problems brought on by playing various first person shooters 6-8 hours a day).
I could go into paragraph after paragraph of statistics about video game addiction, but instead, will leave you with one last study (unpublished) that was released less than two months ago by Erik Hurst, who headed up a collaboration of scientists from his institution and Princeton University. Dr. Hurst is an economist at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business. His chief areas of study are household financial behavior and labor markets. The university's Becker Friedman Institute ran an article on Hurst back in July that concerned some of these "household financial behaviors" as they pertain to young, unemployed, American males, with less education than a four year college degree (extremely cherry-picked)
"I’m interested in employment rates of young (in their twenties), non-college educated men. In prior work on changes in demand for low-skilled labor, the theory exists that as technology advances, both employment and wages fall due to decreased demand. I’m almost flipping that theory on its head by asking if it is possible that technology can also affect labor supply. If leisure time is more enjoyable, and as prices for these technologies [internet / video games] continue to drop, people may be less willing to work at any given wage. In the 2000s, employment rates for this group dropped sharply – more than in any other group. The hours that they are not working have been replaced almost one for one with leisure time. Seventy-five percent of this new leisure time falls into one category: video games. The average low-skilled, unemployed man in this group plays video games an average of 12, and sometimes upwards of 30 hours per week. These individuals are living with parents or relatives, and happiness surveys actually indicate that they are quite content compared to their peers."
Wow! When I WAS IN HIGH SCHOOL, people not only liked to and wanted to work, I'm not sure I knew anyone who did not at least have a summer job. In other words, young people worked. Period. It was what you did. I have been noticing the reversal of this trend for years as I ask young men (or their parents) what they're doing with themselves these days. It's an amazing phenomenon and one that you can read about extensively by Googling "Erik Hurst Video Games," as dozens of media outlets and magazines picked up on his work and wrote articles about it, complete with interviews of young men, none of whom seem too worried about the way they were living their lives. They don't seem to be bothered or embarrassed in the least to sit in front of a screen every waking hour, sponging off their parents and the AMERICAN TAX PAYER).
Samuel James, writing for First Things, said in his August 2 piece (America's Lost Boys), "In other words, the time these young men spend on Xbox and Playstation does not offer them relief from the stress of joblessness and existential inertia. On the contrary, for them it’s part of Living the Dream." Which brings me to the next area I am covering today; internet porn. In the same article as above, listen to James continue (again, extremely cherry-picked).
"American men aged 18-30 are now statistically more likely to be living with their parents than with a romantic partner. Hurst’s research says that these men are single, unoccupied, and fine with that—because their happiness doesn’t depend on whether they are growing up and living life. This prolonged delay of marriage and relational commitment often means a perpetual adolescence in other areas of life. Love and sex are arguably the best incentives for men to assert their adulthood. Could it be that one reason that millions of young American men feel satisfied with their perpetual adolescence is that their sexual appetites are sated by a steady diet of internet porn? No woman they could meet at the coffee shop or on the church camping trip could possibly compete with these perfectly toned, perfectly undemanding models. A connection between enslavement to video games and enslavement to pornography is not far-fetched. As Russell Moore has noted, the former offers “fake war,” while the latter offers “fake love.” Between the Xbox and the X-rating, a young man can oscillate from the primal thrills of conquest to the orgasmic comfort of faux-intimacy."
James' and Moore's theory is addressed by a case study (...Internet Gaming Disorder Associated with Pornography Use) published in the September, 2015 issue of The Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine. When I started researching this post a couple of weeks ago, I was not only shocked at the number of treatment centers for gaming addicts (not to mention the number of peer-reviewed scientific studies on the subject), I was doubly shocked at the incredible number of treatment centers for porn addicts --- huge numbers of which have nothing to do with religious belief. For those who think that porn is no big deal, or simply one more thing for religious fuddy duddies to rally against, listen to some cherry-picked results from a study published by the US Navy back in August (Is Internet Pornography Causing Sexual Dysfunctions? A Review with Clinical Reports).
"Traditional factors that once explained men's sexual difficulties appear insufficient to account for the sharp rise in erectile dysfunction, delayed ejaculation, decreased sexual satisfaction, and diminished libido during partnered sex in men under 40. This review also considers evidence that Internet pornography's unique properties (limitless novelty, potential for easy escalation to more extreme material, video format, etc.) may be potent enough to condition sexual arousal to aspects of Internet pornography use that do not readily transition to real-life partners, such that sex with desired partners may not register as meeting expectations and arousal declines. Clinical reports suggest that terminating Internet pornography use is sometimes sufficient to reverse negative effects."
It's no wonder that when you combine our RAGING RATE OF PHYSICAL SEXUAL DYSFUNCTION with porn-induced sexual dysfunction, the number of people no longer capable of having sex is through the roof. If you go to PubMed and type "Pornography Addiction" into the search bar, you will get over five pages of results. After skimming titles and abstracts of studies being done at secular universities from around the world, It's fairly easy to see that not only does this fit virtually every criteria for addiction as outlined by neuroscientists and addictionologists, but is spiraling out of control in our nation's children --- boys and girls. 'Girls,' you say --- 'I thought only boys were doing the porn thing?' Wrong again. A study done at Italy's University of Padova and published in this past May's issue of the International Journal of Adolescent Medicine and Health (Adolescents and Web Porn: A New Era of Sexuality) looked at anonymous surveys filled out by 1,500 high school seniors (male and female). What did they learn?
"Pornography can affect the lifestyles of adolescents, especially in terms of their sexual habits and porn consumption, and may have a significant influence on their sexual attitudes and behaviors.... It is necessary to educate web users, especially young users, to a safe and responsible use of the Internet and of its contents. Moreover, public education campaigns should be increased in number and frequency to help improve knowledge of Internet-related sexual issues both by adolescents and by parents."
The problem is, as I have already shown you, government-funded PSA'S and "CAMPAIGNS" don't work. So rather than waste time, I found some YouTube Ted Talks that approach this topic from a totally secular / non-religious point of view. I will warn you that the talk by Dr. Gail Dines, a professor of sociology at Boston's Wheelock College, lays it out there in language that will offend some of you. She also happens to offer the best explanation of why young girls are rapidly becoming, in her words, "pornified" (if you have young sons, daughters, grandsons, or granddaughters, you might want to watch). Dr. Dine's talk --- particularly the last part --- will also help you understand why there's been a massive surge in HUMAN TRAFFICKING right in the Ozarks, that's getting worse instead of better.
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For instance, this older man grew up in the Depression and was actually coming back to Missouri from somewhere out West. He and his siblings were riding wherever they could find room, in the back of a canvas-tarped truck that was loaded down with their families possessions (think Grapes of Wrath here). This child had found himself a perch up in the "rafters" so to speak and was half freezing as they made their way through the Rockies, and across Kansas. They burned out a wheel bearing in Kansas and since they were being chased by a blizzard; with a bearing being several days away by mail from the small town they were in, they rigged up a bearing made from greased shoe leather. It lasted just long enough to get them back to Missouri.
It's a shame we can't go back to simpler times where MEN WERE MEN and everyone enjoyed CLEAN, OLD-FASHIONED FUN. But with a few exceptions, I don't see that happening any time soon. What must happen if we are going to turn this whole crazy thing around is parents stepping up to the plate and being parents. If you connect the dots from today's post (phones / gaming / porn), you'll realize that both gaming and internet porn are easily consumed via smart phone. There are about a jillion resources for monitoring your kid's electronic behavior, many of them free or extremely inexpensive.
TYPE II DIABETES AND ITS RELATIONSHIP TO SEXUAL DYSFUNCTION & INFERTILITY
It's fascinating to me just how many couples I see in my clinic who are unable to get pregnant. While it's true that I have seen any number of women get pregnant after chiropractic adjustments (HERE'S THE MECHANISM), in the 25 years I have been in practice, it is becoming less and less likely this will happen (HERE'S WHY). Mostly it has to do with INFLAMMATION, which I showed you in the paragraph above, is the root of most of our most common health problems. In fact, there is an entire industry that revolves around this increasingly common problem (IVF). And this does not even begin to touch on the issue of libido. One thing we know for sure about sex drive is that it correlates inversely with two health problems that are almost always joined at the hip --- the Siamese twins of ill health; type II diabetes and obesity. Before I show you how to solve the majority of cases of both problems on your own, I want to hit you with some studies in no particular order (everything is cherry-picked due to constraints on both time and space) concerning the topic of today's post.
- According to last month's issue of Sexual Medicine Reviews (Diabetes & Sexuality) diabetes is a major destroyer of sexual function for both men and women. "Deterioration in sexual functioning is one of the major and serious complications of diabetes. This common metabolic disorder not only affects sexuality through microvascular and nerve damage but also has psychological aspects. In men, the primary complications are erectile dysfunction, ejaculatory dysfunction, and loss of libido. Women similarly experience sexual problems, including decreased libido, decrease in arousal and lubrication resulting in painful intercourse, and loss of orgasm." Diabetes lowers testosterone levels in men (HERE). With women, it's a mixed bag. Low T in women likewise causes low libido. But as often as not, blood sugar dysregulation in the fairer sex often leads to high testosterone, which not only causes sexual dysfunction, but is a chief component of PCOS as well --- the number one reason for female infertility in America.
- The March issue of the German journal Wiener Medizinische Wochenschrift (Sexuality in Overweight and Obesity) essentially said the same thing, but added their two cents on how to treat the dysfunction. "The association between obesity and sexual dysfunction has been described in many studies. Neurobiological, hormonal, vascular and mental disturbances are the main reasons in male and in female gender." The authors then mentioned several new drugs and hormones used to treat this problem in women. The only one mentioned that was really new was FLIBANSERIN ("Female Viagra"); a terrible drug that will undoubtedly soon be pulled off the market due to side effects and an almost 0% rate of effectiveness.
- Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology recently published a study (Novel Concepts in the Etiology of Male Reproductive Impairment), which, as I have shown you time and time again, puts the onus for a large percentage of infertility squarely on the shoulders of the male ---- something I feel that most of the public has not been made aware of (women seem to get most of the "blame" for this issue). "Infertility is a widespread problem and a male contribution is involved in 20–70% of affected couples" A study published a few months later, in the June issue of Reproduction, Fertility, and Development (High Glucose Levels Affect Spermatogenesis....) added to this by stating, "systemic diseases such as diabetes mellitus may further exacerbate a decline in male fertility. This metabolic disease, clinically characterized by a hyperglycaemic phenotype, has devastating consequences in terms of human health, with reproductive dysfunction being one of the associated clinical complications."
- Just last month, the Journal of Diabetic Complications (Diabetes Mellitus and Functional Sperm Characteristics: A Meta-Analysis of Observational Studies) revealed that, "Insulin resistance and diabetes mellitus (DM) are well defined causes of female infertility. Current evidence suggests that the presence of DM seems to influence functional sperm characteristics. DM seems to decrease the seminal volume and the percentage of motile cells." For us men it just keeps getting crazier and scarier. Case in point.....
- A study from the March issue of Fertility & Sterility (Increased Risk of Incident Chronic Medical Conditions in Infertile Men: Analysis of United States Claims Data) looked at chronic disease in men as it relates to infertility. Not surprisingly, the authors concluded that, "after adjusting for confounding factors, men diagnosed with infertility had a higher risk of developing diabetes." But they didn't stop there. Some of the other diseases that were also associated with infertility included, "hypertension, diabetes, hyperlipidemia, renal disease, pulmonary disease, liver disease, depression, peripheral vascular disease, cerebrovascular disease, heart disease, injury, alcohol abuse, drug abuse, anxiety disorders, and bipolar disorder." Folks; this list includes almost every major category of disease you can name. The scariest thing about this study, however, was that the average age of the over 13,000 participants was (gulp) 33.
- The April issue of Frontiers in Physiology carried a study called Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome: An Updated Overview. "Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) is one of the most common metabolic and reproductive disorders among women of reproductive age. Women suffering from PCOS present with a constellation of symptoms associated with menstrual dysfunction and androgen [testosterone] excess, which significantly impacts their quality of life. They may be at increased risk of multiple morbidities, including obesity, insulin resistance, type II diabetes mellitus, cardiovascular disease (CVD), infertility, cancer, and psychological disorders." What I find interesting is that even though PCOS is an American epidemic, few women (whether struggling to get pregnant or not) seem to be aware of it unless it has caused them pain (a ruptured cyst). In light of the severity of this next study, it's clear that doctors need to be doing a better job of educating their female patients about this subject.
- In the spring of this year, the Czech journal Vnitřní Lékařství (no, I have no earthly idea how to pronounce it either) published a study called Clinical Implications of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. In this study, they concluded that, "Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) belongs to the most widespread endocrinopathies and it is the most frequent cause of hyperthyroidism, anticoagulation and infertility. Insulin resistance is one of the important diabetology factors impacting hyperglycemia in a majority of women with PCOS (60-80 %). Clinical expressions of PCOS include reproduction disorders, metabolic characteristics and psychological implications. Reproduction disorders include hyperthyroidism, menstruation cycle disorders, infertility and pregnancy complications as well as early abortions, gestational diabetes and pregnancy induced hypertension. Long-term metabolic risks of PCOS include type 2 diabetes mellitus, dyslipidemia, arterial hypertension and endothelial dysfunction. The available data confirms higher incidence of cardiovascular diseases in women with PCOS. In particular among obese women PCOS is more frequently associated with non-alcoholic hepatic steatosis, sleep apnea...... and autoimmunity. Women with PCOS are more prone to suffer from insufficient confidence with higher incidence of anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder and eating disorders." Every one of these problems, including SLEEP APNEA, are intimately associated with obesity.
- Earlier this year, the journal PLoS One carried a study called The Gut Microbiome Is Altered in a Letrozole-Induced Mouse Model of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. Researchers revealed that, "PCOS is the most common endocrine disorder in women, with an estimated world-wide prevalence of... up to 15% using the Rotterdam Consensus criteria." The authors went on to say how any number of diseases, including diabetes and obesity have deleterious and well know affects on the MICROBIOME. For this study; shortly after birth, a slow release form of letrozole (trade name Femara --- an estrogen blocker similar to Tamoxifen) was implanted into female mice. Although I don't have time to do it justice, the results of the study were far worse than the conclusions make is sound. "Letrozole treatment of peripubertal female mice decreased mouse gut bacterial diversity and precipitated species-specific and time-dependent shifts in the relative abundance of particular Bacteroidetes and Firmicutes, many of which have been implicated in other mouse models of metabolic disease. Our observation of gut microbiome alteration in a letrozole-induced PCOS mouse model suggests that a “dysbiosis” or microbial imbalance in the gut microbiome may also occur in women with PCOS." I have shown you time and time again that drugs in general --- both ANTIBIOTICS and NON-ANTIBIOTICS alike --- are notorious for creating the (all too common) nightmare known as DYSBIOSIS. Which, like PCOS, is fed by sugar.
- What causes PCOS? The very same thing that causes diabetes. Just remember, however, that contrary to popular belief, Type II Diabetes is not technically a sugar problem. It's an INFLAMMATION PROBLEM, that just happens to be driven (for the most part) by one of our national pastimes --- over-consuming sugar, high glycemic carbohydrates, and JUNK FOOD. This is clearly seen when looking at the abstract of June's Western-Style Diet, Sex Steroids and Metabolism, found in the journal, Biochimica Et Biophysica Acta. "Today, the increased consumption of simple sugars and high-fat food brought about by Western-style diet and physical inactivity are leading causes of the growing obesity epidemic in the Western society. The extension of human lifespan far beyond reproductive age increased the burden of metabolic disorders associated with overnutrition and age-related hypogonadism. Sex steroids are essential regulators of both reproductive function and energy metabolism, whereas their imbalance causes infertility, obesity, glucose intolerance, dyslipidemia, and increased appetite." Did you happen to catch the last two words? That's right folks, the more junk you eat, the more junk you want.
All this is great information, but I know what you're thinking. What about that point where the rubber meets the road? How in the world can both men and women go about fixing sexual dysfunction and infertility? As is almost always the case, drugs are rarely a good or long-term solution.
- The journal above concluded the quote from above by saying, "Clinical and translational studies suggest that dietary restriction and weight control can improve metabolic and reproductive outcomes of sex hormone-related pathologies, including testosterone deficiency in men and natural menopause and hyperandrogenemia in women. Minimizing metabolic and reproductive decline through rationally designed diet and exercise can help extend human reproductive age and promote healthy aging. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled: Oxidative Stress and Mitochondrial Quality in Diabetes / Obesity and Critical Illness Spectrum of Diseases."
- The French OB/GYN journal Gynécologie Obstétrique & Fertilité took this concept even further with publication of their April issue (Infertility: A Key Time to Follow a Medical Nutritional Management. Our Experience on 78 Patients). After admitting that the desire to get pregnant, "is a strong motivational lever to weight loss" the authors concluded that said weight loss, "leads to satisfying pregnancy rate". What do you know? It works!
What sort of diet and exercise to I recommend? Firstly, remember that what you eat is infinitely more important that what or how much exercise you do (HERE). I had a patient come in the other day whose entire family, elderly parents included, had gone PALEO. The grandfather, who has struggled with jacked blood sugar for years, despite any number of DIABETES DRUGS, dropped his blood sugar over 100 points in 3 days. Read that again, because it was not a misprint. It's all about glycemic control via controlling inflammation. And don't forget the STRENGTH TRAINING as well. If you want to see a template on what it might take to get your schwerve back or even get pregnant, HERE is the link ---- critical if you are not only overweight and struggling with PCOS, but DEPRESSED and ADDICTED TO SUGAR AND JUNK CARBS as well.
Rest assured that sugar consumption and obestity are not the only cause(s) of sexual dysfunction, infertility, and particularly PCOS. Many studies do mention "genetics" as a etiological factor. However, it is critical to realize that raw genetics --- your genes --- do not determine your health nearly as much as you have been led to believe. Otherwise the Human Genome Project would have actually accomplished what it claimed it would accomplish when it began 25 years ago --- ridding human kind of sickness and disease. The truth is, EPIGENETICS is largely what determines your genetic expression, and if you don't understand this, it's critical you click the link and read the short post.
FOR MANY, THE SOLUTION IS SIMPLER THAN EVER IMAGINED
Some of this has to do with OFF-LABEL PRESCRIBING. A 2014 article in Scientific American by Julia Calderone revealed that, "Doctors commonly use antidepressants to treat many maladies they are not approved for. In fact, studies show that between 25 and 60 percent of prescribed antidepressants are actually used to treat nonpsychological conditions." Today we are going to discuss one of the many reasons that our national love affair with SSRI's is a bigger deal than many of you may have realized. Here are some cherry-pickings from the peer-reviewed literature.
- "There is a high incidence of sexual dysfunction in the general population and sexual dysfunction is often an integral symptom of a depressive disorder. In addition, all antidepressants have effects on sexual functioning... The selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are clearly associated with delayed ejaculation, inability to ejaculate and absent or delayed orgasm. Furthermore, the incidence of sexual dysfunction obtained by patient self-report does not appear to reflect the true incidence of sexual dysfunction associated with antidepressant therapy." From the abstract of a 1997 study published in the Oxford Journal of Psychopharmacology
- "Antidepressants, including the tricyclic antidepressants, monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), cause sexual dysfunctions such as decreased sexual desire, erectile difficulties and delayed ejaculation. Such sexual side-effects affect quality of life...." From a study published 17 years ago this month in the International Journal of Psychopharmacology
- "Sexual dysfunction secondary to the use of antidepressants, especially clomipramine or SSRI's is an adverse effect that is often underestimated and according to earlier studies, this can affect approximately 60% of the patients. This presents as a decrease in libido, alterations in the ability to reach orgasm / ejaculation, and an erectile dysfunction or a decreased vaginal lubrication. This dysfunction appears to be related with the resulting increase in serotonin and with the stimulation of serotonin 5HT2 receptors." From a 1999 issue of the Spanish medical journal Actas Espanolas de Psiquiatria. The study was authored by 21 different MD and Ph.D researchers
- "Antidepressants, especially selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)... are frequently associated with sexual dysfunction. The incidence of sexual dysfunction is underestimated." From a 2001 study in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry
- "Sexual dysfunction has been observed in a substantial proportion of patients treated with all classes of antidepressants. In particular, SSRI use has been shown to be associated with sexual dysfunction." From the abstract of a 2002 study (Sexual Functioning and SSRIs) published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry
- "Sexual dysfunctions such as low libido, anorgasmia, genital anesthesia, and erectile dysfunction are very common in patients taking selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). It has been assumed that these side effects always resolve after discontinuing treatment... SSRIs can cause long-term effects on all aspects of the sexual response cycle that may persist after they are discontinued." From the abstract of the January 2008 issue of the Journal of Sexual Medicine (Persistent Sexual Dysfunction After Discontinuation of Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors)
- "Sexual dysfunction is a common but often unrecognized side effect of many antidepressants. Patients classified with antidepressant-associated sexual dysfunction (AASD) reported significantly worse quality of life, self-esteem, mood, and relationships with partners, compared with non-AASD patients. Sexual dysfunction is a frequent occurrence during antidepressant treatment, and is associated with reduced quality of life and self-esteem, and negative effects on mood and relationships." From the April, 2010 issue of the Oxford Journal of Psychopharmacology
- "There is a well-established relationship between sexual functioning and quality of life. Depression can cause sexual dysfunction (SD) and its treatment can often lead to restoration of sexual functioning. Use of antidepressants has also been associated with SD, with implications for treatment compliance and creation of further distress for the patient." From the October, 2014 issue of Expert Opinion on Drug Safety (Sexual Dysfunction Associated with Major Depressive Disorder and Antidepressant Treatment)
- "With the exception of.... all antidepressants cause sexual side-effects. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) may particularly delay ejaculation and female orgasm, but also can cause decreased libido and erectile difficulties.... This is often preceded by genital anesthesia. Also patients with eating disorders may suffer from sexual difficulties." Cherry-picked from the abstract of of a 2015 paper (Psychiatric Disorders and Sexual Dysfunction) in the Handbook of Clinical Neurology.
According to the Cleveland Clinic's ERECTILE DYSFUNCTION page, "the Massachusetts Male Aging Study reported a prevalence of 52%. By age 40, approximately 40% of men are affected. The rate increases to nearly 70% in men aged 70 years. The Massachusetts study data suggest there will be approximately 617,715 new cases of ED in the United States annually. Experience of sexual dysfunction was more likely among men in poor physical and emotional health." Those are some crazy numbers, but Sexual Dysfunction isn't just for men.
A year ago this month, the medical journal Systemic Reviews published a study (Prevalence and Predictors of Female Sexual Dysfunction: A Protocol for a Systematic Review) showing that Sexual Dysfunction in women is related to things like HEART DISEASE and certain AUTOIMMUNE DISEASES. They went on to say that...
"While Female Sexual Dysfunction (FSD) is often assessed in people with ill health, sexual dysfunction is an illness of its own entity and is also prevalent in non-patient populations. FSD is indeed significantly more frequent among women with diabetes than those without. These were the results of 26 studies which employed the Female Sexual Function Index (FSFI) by Rosen to measure dysfunction. A low FSFI score (indicator of dysfunction) was also associated with high body mass index Another recent review from 2012 measured the bidirectional association of depression and sexual dysfunction among men and women. Atlantis and Sullivan pooled odds ratios or relative risks across studies using random-effects meta-analysis models. The analysis confirmed that depression increased the risk of sexual dysfunction and that sexual dysfunction increased the odds of depression."
We cannot be too surprised that numerous health problems are being associated with FSD. Healthline.com carried a fascinating infographic called Depression by State, showing the states with the highest rates of Depression. If you look at the CDC's infographics on Obesity by State, you'll realize how similar they look --- that states with the highest rates of Obesity are the states that also happen to have the highest amount of Sexual Dysfunction (HERE). It's part of an unhappy triad of Obeisty, Depression, and Sexual Dysfunction. What are people (particularly women) prescribed for these problems? Antidepressants, of course. We've known for a very long time that treating in this fashion was creating a ticking time bomb. Case in point; it has been nearly a decade since Dr. Richard Balon's study, SSRI-Associated Sexual Dysfunction, was published in the American Journal of Psychiatry.
"Occasional reports of sexual dysfunction associated with use of monoamine oxidase inhibitors and tricyclic antidepressants began to appear during the 1960s and 1970s. With the arrival of newer antidepressants in the late 1980s and 1990s, reports of sexual side effects increased, notably with regard to use of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)... Since the introduction of SSRIs, sexual dysfunction associated with these agents has been reported in numerous case reports, case series, and open-label and double-blind studies; and in recent years it has been frequently mentioned in efficacy studies and discussed in critical reviews."
In another academic paper published by Balon and colleagues in Current Psychiatry (How Do SSRIs Cause Sexual Dysfunction?), he went on to say that, "Although selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are frequently prescribed and are better tolerated than older antidepressants, side effects such as sexual dysfunction limit patient acceptance of these medications." How high are the sexual side effects of SSRI meds? "Balon suggested that the incidence of SSRI-associated sexual dysfunction is 30% to 50%, although others have reported higher incidences." Much of this has to do with the fact that these drugs not only affect SEROTONIN, but the neurotransmitters of the 5-HT family, which are the same neurotransmitters associated with problems like FIBROMYALGIA and CHRONIC FATIGUE.
THE MEDICAL SOLUTION TO SEXUAL DYSFUNCTION?
TAKE MORE DRUGS!
Flibanserin is an interesting drug simply because of its history. It was developed by Boehringer Ingelheim (initially as an SSRI Antidepressant), being presented to the FDA for acceptance in June of 2010. After failing to receive a single vote of approval, B.I. abandoned the drug, selling it to a company called Sprout Pharmaceuticals. Sprout did a couple more safety studies (one pertained to whether or not is was safe to drive after taking it) and resubmitted it to the FDA last month --- almost five years to the day after the first submission --- where it was approved by a vote of 18-6. What changed in that half decade? Nothing much --- except for the fact that the feminists were howling about the unfairness of it all (Sprout used an effective propaganda campaign known as "Even the Score"). A very vocal group of women got what they wanted by robustly denouncing the FDA as a sexist organization because they had given the 'thumbs up' for sexual drugs for males, but not for females (there are currently 26 such drugs for men and other than Flibanserin, none for women). The problem is, according to Deborah Kotz' June 16, 2010 issue of US News and World Report (Flibanserin Failure: Female Viagra Drug Disappoints).....
"The drug didn't boost women's desire any more than a placebo in two clinical trials."
In response to the pressure to be 'politically correct', the FDA caved. I use the word "caved" because not only does this drug carry some potentially serious side effects (but then again, WHAT DRUGS DON'T?), but using the most generous language possible, it would be stretching things to categorize the drug's efficacy as even "modest". It is currently being marketed as being able to increase the number of monthly "satisfying sexual events" for women who have been diagnosed with Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder (HSDD) --- a "disease" that many critics claim was made up for the express purpose of selling and promoting this drug (see last week's study in the Journal of Medical Ethics --- Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder: Inventing A Disease to Sell Low Libido). How modest are the results? After accounting for the "PLACEBO EFFECT," Flibanserin increased the number of satisfying sexual events for women (not necessarily defined as an orgasm) by an average of one half to one per month. Gulp!
BETTER THAN VIAGRA, FLIBANSERIN,
One out of five isn't exactly great odds --- particularly in light of what we are learning about the side effects of SSRI's. What can you do to increase those odds? Next month's issue of the Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization published a study on happiness as it relates to frequency of sex (Does Increased Sexual Frequency Enhance Happiness?). The researchers created two groups of married heterosexual couples (64 couples in each group, ages 35 to 65). Group one was given no instructions as to frequency of sexual relations. However, whatever the weekly frequency was for the individual couples in group two, the researchers told them to double it.
Because, "Research has found a positive correlation between sexual frequency and happiness," the researchers were wondering if doubling the amount of sex couples have, would increase their amount of happiness. They actually found that because the sex was "mandatory," the couples from group two found themselves enjoying it less, actually ending up with a slightly lower overall "happiness" level than when they started the study. But what about those couples who are having little or no sex?
Rather than resort to the drugs that your doctor will invariably prescribe you, there are things that you can do to improve this problem on your own. The cool thing is that when you do things like (or at least similar) to what I suggest, you'll probably end up solving a boatload of other health problems as well. How's that for a side effect?
- UNDERSTAND DEPRESSION: As I've been showing you, both Depression and the drugs used to treat it are major known causes of Sexual Dysfunction. Educate yourself concerning both. Because knowledge is power, you need to be sure to read everything I have written on Depression ---- including the fact that it is one of the myriad of health problems caused by inflammation (HERE or HERE). Control your body's levels of Systemic Inflammation, and at the very least, you'll improve your sexual situation. It is also critical you realize how intimately related GUT HEALTH is to Depression.
- CONTROL BLOOD SUGAR: BLOOD SUGAR DYSREGULATION ISSUES are probably the number one factor that will adversely affect your sexual function. Much of this has to do with the fact that the function of your entire ENDOCRINE SYSTEM (TESTOSTERONE and the various FEMALE HORMONES) is intimately related to your levels of Blood Sugar ---- even in the absence of full-blown Diabetes (HERE). In fact, the brutal truth is that sugar turns men into women, and women into men (HERE). If the way you eat is not doing an excellent job of regulating your blood sugar, start looking into a different way of eating (I prefer PALEO or KETO).
- DEAL WITH YOUR BELLY FAT: For decades, BELLY FAT has been a top predictor of Sexual Dysfunction in men (see "Testosterone" link in previous bullet), probably because it is so intimately related to Blood Sugar. As I have shown you through previous links on this post, it has recently become a predictor of female Sexual Dysfunction as well.
- DEAL WITH XENOHORMONES: XENOESTROGENS are bad news for both men and women. One of the best ways to go about this is by making sure that your body can BIOTRANSFORM properly.
- EXERCISE: There are about a million benefits of exercise, including increased blood flow. If you take a look at the studies on PubMed linking regular moderate exercise to improved sexual health, you'll quickly realize that it would take hours to go through all of them. A September, 2013 issue of Cochrane Collaboration (Exercise for Depression) reviewed 39 studies comparing exercise to drugs. "When compared to psychological or pharmacological therapies, exercise appears to be no more effective." That's a nice way of saving face, but the meaning is the same. Exercise might not be more effective than drugs, but it's not less effective either. There were four similar meta-analysis in 2014 which all came to similar conclusions. HERE some posts on the type of exercise I feel is best for most people.
- OTHERS: HERE is my general protocol for dealing with the underlying physical issues related to Sexual Dysfunction. As for emotional issues, spiritual issues, or CERTAIN ADDICTIONS, make sure to see a qualified counselor.
One more thing for the women struggling with Infertility. According to a recent study (Incidence and Prevalence of Sexual Dysfunctions in Infertile Women) from the European Journal of General Medicine "Infertility may interact with a woman’s sexual expression by causing or exacerbating sexual problems as a consequence of the diagnosis, investigation and treatment of infertility. Conversely, sexual problems may contribute in infertility." In other words, the fact that some of the crazy treatments given for INFERTILITY can cause sexual dysfunctions is easy to buy. Not so well understood is the fact that it cuts both ways --- Sexual Dysfunction has been shown to be intimately related to Infertility. Once you begin to understand PCOS, this will make more sense.
QUALITY OF LIFE, SEXUAL DYSFUNCTION, AND OBESITY
"Sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG) is a plasma glycoprotein with high binding affinity for testosterone. Obesity and particularly excess visceral fat, known risk factors for cardiovascular and metabolic diseases, are associated with decreased testosterone levels in males and SHBG levels in both sexes. A positive association between SHBG and various measures of insulin sensitivity has been demonstrated in both sexes, suggesting that decreased SHBG levels may be one of the components of the metabolic syndrome." From a study (Synthesis and Regulation of Sex Hormone-Binding Globulin in Obesity) published in the June 2000 issue of the International Journal of Obesity and Related Metabolic Disorders.
No matter how you slice it, study after study after study links quality of life to sexual frequency and enjoyment. In fact, the Farlex Partner Medical Dictionary defines the term "Quality of Life" as "A patient's general well-being, including mental status, stress level, sexual function, and self-perceived health status." We know that DEPRESSION is rampant in this country. We also know that Americans are maximally stressed out. To top it all off, statistics show us that massive numbers of us have poor sex lives. How are most physicians treating these folks? You already know the answer. In typical "EVIDENCE-BASED MEDICINE" fashion, this group (especially the women) are given Antidepressants ---- the proverbial "anti-aphrodisiac" --- one of the WORST CLASSES OF DRUGS for further destroying sex drive.
It was a decade ago next month that Dr. Martin Binks, the director of behavioral health at Duke University Medical Center's Diet & Fitness Center, published his landmark study on Obesity and Sex. In this study he showed that Obese individuals were 2,500% more likely to report having problems with their sex life than people of normal weight, and that women had greater problems in this area than men. Then, in 2007, several researchers from Copenhagen's Institute of Preventive Medicine published a paper in the International Journal of Obesity (Sexual Function and Obesity). Although they did not do any new research for this paper, they reviewed all the previous studies on the topic from 1966 forward, coming to some conclusions of their own. I am going to leave you with some quotes from their literature review.
- 10–30% of all individuals from developed countries are obese. In addition, 1/3–2/3 are considered to be overweight.
- There are indicators that obesity may cause sexual dysfunction.
- Most [of the studies reviewed] indicated an increase of sexual activity among both men and women after weight loss intervention.
- After mentioning a plethora of health problems related to Obesity, the study's authors stated, "Sexual dysfunctions may also relate to obesity, but are rarely mentioned, and may, for both individual and partner, cause concern and constitute a great problem. Obesity is also rarely mentioned as a co-factor to sexual problems in textbooks on human sexuality, and, if so, with no reference to data in support of a causal relationship".
- Obesity is a known independent risk factor for vascular risk factors such as dyslipidemia, hypertension, diabetes mellitus and depression, all known to be directly related to sexual dysfunction in both women and men....
- Obesity is directly related to Erectile Dysfunction [in obese men].
- In the male population, the odds of "developing ED among the more overweight compared to the lean," are significantly greater.
- Obesity.... was a significant predictor of subsequent ED, and that this association was independent of age and hypercholesterolemia [HIGH CHOLSTEROL --- make sure to click this link if you are taking Statin Drugs to lower your Cholesterol]. Those treated with hypolipidemic drugs (especially fibrates and/or statins), more often complained about ED compared to a control group. Additionally, a systematic review from 2002 of the effect of lipid-lowering drugs on ED concluded that statins and fibrates might cause ED." [Again, click the link.]
- After adjusting for age, "A positive linear trend from no ED to severe/complete ED and no sexual activity was found with increasing BMI [BODY MASS INDEX]".
- The results suggested that the quality of residual erectile function was significantly better in the non-obese than in the obese group.
- ED occurred significantly more often in men with high BMI than in men with lower BMI.
- They demonstrated a significantly decreased reaction to increased level of C-reactive protein in the obese [C-Reactive Protein is one of the markers of SYSTEMIC INFLAMMATION --- which is a known cause of Obesity and Sexual Dysfunction (click on the link). By the way, there was also a study on Cytokines (another component of many Inflammatory reactions) and ED].
- The results showed that 31% of the obese men and 31% of the obese women reported problems with their sex life." [This number was over 100% higher than the "normal weight" group].
- There was a tendency toward lower sexual satisfaction and sexual desire associated with higher weights in the youngest age group [18-49].
- Most of the studies among men suggest a positive association between obesity and sexual dysfunction.
- The pilot among women studies by Werlinger demonstrated that weight loss significantly increased the overall perception of sexual functioning and increased sexual satisfaction.
- A number of different sexual difficulties may arise with obesity in men and women. For both genders, these include difficulties with lack of orgasm, decreased intercourse frequency, reduced sexual desire and lack of perceived satisfaction. In women, dyspareunia [painful intercourse] and decreased vaginal lubrication may occur.
- Watching television for more than 20 hours per week was significantly associated with ED.
- Women who were satisfied with their body image reported more sexual activity, more frequent orgasm, comfort with having sex with lights on and with pleasing their partner sexually. Stress and depression could have an influence on the desire, but a low self-esteem from dissatisfaction of body image may also affect the desire.
- Women with the metabolic syndrome had an increased prevalence of sexual dysfunction compared to controls.
- Obesity has been found to be associated with increased androgen production among women, whereas studies in men show a low androgen production [they are talking about PCOS in women -vs- LOW TESTOSTERONE in men.]
- Most weight loss intervention studies suggest that weight loss improves sexual functioning in women as well as in men.
- A number of biological mechanisms may link obesity to sexual dysfunction
In light of the fact that the authors say that there is not enough "research" into the link between Obesity and Sexual Dysfunction, this last bullet point above provides us direction. While there have been large numbers of studies done on SEXUAL DYSFUNCTION and Obesity in men, there have not been nearly as many in women. On top of this, there is a pervasive idea in the scientific community that goes like this (I will quote from an article called Obesity and Sex found in an ad for a weight loss product). "Obesity does not, by itself, lead to a bad sex life. However, there are physical conditions that go hand-in-hand with obesity that can cause such problems."
For the sake of argument, let's say that this statement and statements like it from the scientific literature are true. What's the difference and what does it matter? Whether Sexual Dysfunction is being caused by Obesity itself or by the complications / sequelae thereof is a moot point, as the end result is the same. On top of all this, Obesity itself is an "Inflammatory" problem, and we know that Sexual Dysfunction is yet another one of those things related to Inflammation (HERE). But this is just the beginning.
What are the "biological mechanisms" they are talking about in that final bullet point above? I will give them to you verbatim, with links to articles from my site. "Endothelial Dysfunction [another marker of Systemic Inflammation that is directly related to decreased blood flow], METABOLIC SYNDROME, DIABETES, ALTERED ENDOCRINE FUNCTION, PSYCHOLOGICAL PROBLEMS, SLEEP APNEA, Physical Disabilities" (too many to list, but I will leave you with ONE). Furthermore, if we were to look at each individual study, we would find many more that could be added to this list.
But all of this begs a critical question. With a whopping 70% of Adult Americans either Obese or overweight, and another 8% MONW, (not to mention the ASTRONOMICAL NUMBERS of individuals dealing with some sort of Sexual Dysfunction), how do we get there from here? In other words, what sort of strategies can be used to regain the "Quality of Life" that a healthy sex life helps bring to the table, by shedding excess pounds? Glad you asked.
I have a significant number of posts on WEIGHT LOSS, which you can read at your leisure. There are a wide variety of strategies in those posts, including things like controlling Blood Sugar and Inflammation by going LOW CARB / PALEO, addressing GUT HEALTH, making sure to add RESISTANCE TRAINING to your workout regimen, and many others. And if you are dealing with BELLY FAT, it will be almost impossible to get your bedroom mojo back unless you deal with it first. You see, Belly Fat, the deep fat packed in around your organs, is bad news because it is far more metabolically active than the fat that is found on hips, thighs, etc (it actually produces Estrogen --- see the previous link). Get rid of your Belly Fat and your Endocrine System (including your OVARIES, your HYPOTHALAMUS, your ADRENAL GLANDS, and your THYROID), will work more like it should --- without drugs or nutritional supplements. The really awesome thing about this approach is that it is the same approach you would use to deal with almost any health problem you are struggling with (HERE).
Granted, each individual is different and may require some personalized attention and specific supplements. But the bottom line is that eating the right foods, and exercising in the correct manner is going to boost the metabolism, increase blood flow to the sex organs (a problem that is universal to both men and women, even though it used to be thought of as a "male" issue), and increase one's energy (including sexual energy). I have yet to hear a patient (male or female) tell me that this or similar approaches have not helped them.
SOLUTIONS TO FEMALE SEXUAL DYSFUNCTION
(Not to Mention Male Sexual Dysfunction)
After citing statistics (the results of polling 450 women) she stated that 27% of premenopausal women and 34% of postmenopausaul women, "are very dissatisfied with their current level of sexual desire," she also let us know that 70% of the 450 said that, "their relationships have suffered as a result". Now, I'm not a rocket scientist when it comes to math, but we're going to put pencil and paper to this thing and do a little bit of figuring here, because something is not adding up. I am not sure what the split actually was on this study, but let's assume that 65% of the women polled (293) were pre's, and 35% of them (157) were post's. This would mean that of the 450 women polled, 79 of the pre-menopausal group, and 53 of the postmenopausal women are not happy with their libidos.
The problem is, however, that 70% of all women polled said that their decreased libido (Female Sexual Interest and Arousal Disorder is what scientists actually call this phenomenon) has affected their relationship(s). This works out to 315 total women. But only 132 of the entire group of 450 (just under 30%) is dissatisfied with this. This would mean that there are 135 women of the 450 who have low libidos that have affected their relationship(s) ---- but are not "dissatisfied" with it. This is probably helps to explain why Gorman concludes that, "very few have sought help". Why would this be? Why would so few women be seeking help for a problem that affects so many? Could it be that the "options" which Gorman talked about in the title of her article are not really options at all? Let's take a look.
- Go places (one physician quoted in the paper said there were "places to go for treatment" but did not elaborate.)
- Talk to your doctor
- Talk to your friends
- Visit a website and sign a petition ("Even the Score" is the name of the site. It touts the fact that there are 26 drugs to help men with this problem, while there are 0 for women, and wants you to sign a petition so that the FDA will actively promote the need for such.)
Wow! I'm sorry, and maybe I'm way off base here, but these options don't really sound to me like viable options as far as getting to the root of the problem is concerned. The so-called FEMALE VIAGRA was not approved by the FDA, not because the FDA has it out for women, but because it could not pass their criteria (it was rather ineffective, with too many side effects). When it comes to boosting your libido, "talking to your friends" is iffy at best. As for talking to your doctor; the article itself panned this idea, saying that since doctors had nothing to prescribe for women with FSIAD, they (physicians) did not want to even "discuss" the topic. And as far as "psychotherapy" is concerned, this option automatically assumes that the low libido is a mental issue --- it's all in the women's head. The reality of the situation is that science is showing this problem might just be far more physiological than psychological.
Take Inflammation, for instance. Most health problems (HERE is a list) have been shown to have a common cause ---- INFLAMMATION. It was just a few days ago that I showed you how DEPRESSION is caused by Inflammation (HERE). Is it possible that Sexual Desire could also be affected by Inflammation? This is undoubtedly the case, although it is difficult to say exactly to what degree. While we know for certain that this is true in men, it is only recently that Inflammation has been linked to the female sex drive. Let me show you a bit of what I am talking about.
- BLOOD SUGAR ISSUES: First and foremost on the list of things that cause both Inflammation and low libido in both men and women is BLOOD SUGAR DYSREGULATION. Not only is DIABETES heavily associated with NEUROPATHY, but Neuropathy is heavily associated with Sexual Dysfunction (HERE). If you want to read more about this relationship, simply follow THIS LINK. Diabetes is an Inflammatory problem, and sugar is itself extremely Inflammatory (HERE), and probably why almost all health problems are being tied back to Blood Sugar issues of some sort or other in the scientific medical literature.
- OBESITY: Obesity as a libido-buster is indisputable in the male population. It's probably number one on the list. Although it would be folly to claim that the same 70% of the American female population that's OVERWEIGHT is the same 70% that has libido issues, there is undoubtedly a great deal of overlap. There has to be --- especially if we throw in those who are "SKINNY FAT". Obesity is an Inflammatory problem, and for the record, this bullet point is doubly true if you are talking about BELLY FAT.
- IBS AND OTHER INFLAMMATORY BOWEL DISEASE: Up until recently, IRRITABLE BOWEL SYNDROME was not characterized as an "Inflammatory" health problem. Many are now backing off this position and putting right along side things like Crohn's Disease and Colitis. A July 8, 2014 article on IBDCrohns.About.com (Lack Of Sex Drive With IBD: It's Common For People With Crohn's And Colitis To Experience A Lack Of Libido) says, "Adults with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) may experience a loss in their sex drive".
- DEPRESSION: DEPRESSION is not only heavily associated with IBS, it is heavily linked with diminished libido as well. Not only is Depression a known Inflammatory problem (HERE), there are so many studies / articles on this topic that I am not going to spend any real time on it. By the way, even though huge numbers of anti-depressants are prescribed for low-drive women who have been diagnosed with Depression, this class of drugs is one of the single largest killers of sex drive known today (HERE).
- AUTOIMMUNITY: There are dozens of diseases that involve one's own Immune System making antibodies against it's own organs, glands, or tissues (HERE is a partial list). Not only are all of these diseases "Inflammatory" in nature, the majority of the list would cite diminished libido as one of the common symptoms. Does this prove cause and effect? Probably not. But then again, have you ever heard of people being diagnosed with an Autoimmune Disease and then realizing their sex drive has improved? HERE is a list of my posts on Autoimmunity.
- CHOLESTEROL ISSUES: Not only is HIGH CHOLESTEROL an "Inflammatory" problem that is heavily linked to Sexual Dysfunction, the drugs people are given for it (STATINS) actually cause Sexual Dysfunction --- particularly in males (HERE).
- HORMONAL PROBLEMS: Although I certainly believe that hormones can be extremely complex, I also know that many hormonal problems are related to Inflammation. An article on Connections (Chronic Inflammation: The Silent Enemy Burning Within) stated that, "the complexity of hormonal effects on inflammation is evident in the scientific literature," then went on to talk at length about the subject. Could the opposite be true as well? In other words, could Inflammation effect the hormonal system? I believe it does, and allow me to show you just one simple example. Having an overly-fat body is considered an "Inflammatory" problem (see the bullet point above on Obesity). Interestingly enough, fat cells create both Inflammation and Estrogen. The problem is that ESTROGEN DOMINANCE causes (or at least heavily contributes to) Obesity as well as any number of other Inflammatory Health Issues. It's a huge viscous cycle. Not surprisingly a 2011 study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism (SHBG, Sex Hormones, and Inflammatory Markers in Older Women) talked about these markers as being, "independent and significant correlates of a pro-inflammatory state". Best guess is that over the next decade, this bullet point will be largely proven.
Just to let you know, there is yet another new drug ("Female Viagra") coming down the pike. European physicians / researchers Poels, Bloemers, and Van Rooij head up a team from the Emotional Brain in the Almere Stad Area of the Netherlands. Emotional Brain is a think tank and research center for women's sexual health, and currently has two drugs that are currently going through Phase II of the FDA's testing procedures for efficacy and safety. The drugs are called Lybrido or Lybridos.
I always find it fascinating that drug companies such as Emotional Brain are allowed to do their own research for FDA approval. Probably why it has been incredibly difficult to trust EVIDENCE-BASED MEDICINE. The June 2014 issue of Pharmacology, Biology, and Behavior carried a study called
Two Novel Combined Drug Treatments for Women with Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder. After saying that, "Low sexual desire is the most common sexual complaint in women. As a result, many women suffer from sexual dissatisfaction which often negatively interferes with their quality of life," the study tells us what the drugs are. Both contain Testosterone, with one containing a precursor to SEROTONIN, and the other containing a phosphodiesterase type 5 inhibitor --- a drug given to men for ERECTILE DYSFUNCTION.
SOLVING THE PROBLEM AND INCREASING YOUR LIBIDO
THE TRUTH ABOUT
Testosterone has been used by athletes for decades. Bodybuilders, football players, swimmers, baseball players, and even golfers have used steroids to gain a competitive edge. Don't kid yourself --- these drugs work (can anyone say Barry 'Bison Head' Bonds?). Synthetic forms of Testosterone increase both strength and muscle mass while helping drop body fat. On top of that, they dramatically aid in recovery and healing times. And I don't suppose I need to mention the fact that supplemental Testosterone has that almost magical quality of being able to bring back a man's ability to perform the bedroom heroics of his youth. Thus, it's not surprising that Testosterone is Ponce de León's elusive "Fountain of Youth". But not surprisingly, there's a dark side to this class of drug.
SIDE EFFECTS OF EXOGENOUS TESTOSTERONE
We have known about the side effects of supplemental (exogenous) Testosterone for decades. Once again, most of this knowledge comes from the field of athletics. According to the article in Time, there are 7.5 million American men taking exogenous Testosterone. Every single one of the bullet points below comes straight from the peer-reviewed scientific literature. I must, however, warn you that the studies on Testosterone are all over the place. Von Drehle writes that, "no matter what you think of testosterone therapy, some scientist somewhere has data to back you up.... Trusting testosterone to relieve men of aging amounts to a massive science experiment. There is so little agreement about T therapy that doctors dispute even the most basic concepts... A treatment that is benign when used briefly might become toxic with long use." Ah, the joys of EVIDENCE-BASED MEDICINE.
- HEART ATTACK / STROKE / BLOOD CLOTS / HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE / CHOLESTEROL ISSUES: Some of this is due to the fact that steroids cause increased red blood cell production (polycythemia), which can thicken the blood. You can find more information on CHOLESTEROL and BLOOD PRESSURE by simply following the links.
- PROSTATE CANCER: Far more common than CANCER are symptoms of Prostate Inflammation --- the feeling like you constantly have to go pee even though your bladder is not even close to full. You dribble and then go back and do it again in 20 minutes.
- SLEEP APNEA: HERE is more information on Sleep Apnea.
- FEMALE BREASTS: Athletes and bodybuilders call these "bitch tits", although the official name of the problem is gynomastia.
- ACNE: This is the tip of the iceberg when it comes to skin problems, as Testosterone is notorious for causing SKIN CONDITIONS of all kinds. Interesting article on ACNE.
- DIZZINESS / LIGHTHEADEDNESS:
- MOOD SWINGS / RAGE / DEPRESSION / ANXIETY / PARANOIA: Having been a weightlifter for three decades, I can assure you that with those on Testosterone, these are seen as "normal". HERE is some good information on Depression.
- BALDNESS: Too many of us men are already fighting this problem. Is it really worth it?
- GENERALIZED HORMONAL DISRUPTION: One of the most common is that taking Testosterone short circuits your body's negative feed back loop. Allow me to explain.
From the final bullet point above, you'll notice that taking exogenous Testosterone throws a monkey wrench in the feedback loop that regulates your own body's Testosterone production. A commonly known side effect of athletes who take steroids is that their testicles shrink / shrivel / atrophy. This is because when you take exogenous Testosterone, your body senses it has plenty of it, and shuts down its own (endogenous) production. In other words, your body tells its testicles to stop making sex hormone because it already has plenty. This means that the longer you take Testosterone, or the more Testosterone you take, the less your own body is going to produce. It's one of the body's numerous "Negative Feedback Loops". Bodybuilders and athletes have "tricks" to restart endogenous Testosterone production (the one I am most familiar with is injectable HCG --- remember the HCG diet from a few years back?). Trust me when I tell you that going this route involves putting substances into your body that could in no ways be described as 'harmless'.
WHAT CAUSES LOW T TO BEGIN WITH?
As usual, everyone (both doctors and patients) wants to deal with the symptom (Low T) and forget about the underlying cause(s). That's right; even though men are usually told that their low Testosterone levels are due to the number of birthdays they've had or BAD GENETICS, this is simply not true in most cases. Some of the most common causes of Low T are intimately related to each other.
- EXPOSURE TO ESTROGEN-MIMICKING HORMONES: There are a wide array of chemicals which are known as XENOHORMONES because they have the ability to act as Estrogen in both women and men (HERE).
- HYPOGONADISM: Although there are many different diseases that could cause a person to fall into this category, the numbers are minor compared to the next three.
- PRESCRIPTION DRUGS: HERE'S the link. Enough said.
- BELLY FAT: I have previously informed you just how nasty a problem BELLY FAT is (HERE also), and is intimately related to the next bullet point.
- BLOOD SUGAR METABOLISM ABNORMALITIES: When you're living THE HIGH CARB LIFESTYLE, it not only puts you at risk for health issues like Belly Fat and DIABETES, it puts you at risk for almost every health problem you can imagine --- particularly those of a hormonal nature like "Low T". And guess what boys and girls --- sugar is what turns men into women and women into men (HERE).
Interestingly enough, these last two points are not only arguably the top two causes of not only Male Sexual Dysfunction, but Female Dysfunction as well (HERE). The cool thing is, once you understand how it all works together, you are going to attack it like almost any other health problem (HERE). You can choose to deal with the symptom ("Low T") and take exogenous Testosterone in the form of creams, injections, pills, etc. Or you can deal with the underlying cause of your Low T, and get healthy in the process.
LIBIDO AS AN
INDICATOR OF HEALTH
"Erectile dysfunction affects as many as 30 million American men, including 30 to 50 percent of men between the ages of 40 and 70. It has definite physical and / or psychological causes. It is not a "natural" consequence of aging." Cherry picked from Johns Hopkins Medicine website
"The strong association between sexual dysfunction and impaired quality of life suggests that this problem warrants recognition as a significant public health concern." From 1999's Robert Wood Johnson University Medical School study called Sexual Dysfunction in the United States: Prevalence and Predictors
Unlike what you see on the TV commercials for the drugs listed above, most of the men dealing with this issue are not fit. The truth is, the drug companies would have you believe that impotence is merely a side effect of the aging process --- you know; the whole, "It's all downhill after the age of (insert your age here no matter what it is)" thing. The quote at the top of the page from Johns Hopkins tells us otherwise. Aside from DRUGS THAT CAUSE MALE IMPOTENCE, most of the time this problem is fairly straightforward as far as getting a handle on it. Lose the BELLY FAT, CONTROL THE BLOOD SUGAR (even in the ABSENCE OF FULL-BLOWN DIABETES), deal with the HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE and HIGH CHOLESTEROL, and things will usually fall into place. Again men; one of the earliest signs your health is not what you thought it was is the inability or lack of desire for sex. Women are different, but maybe not as different as one would expect.
Although there is a much wider range of potential reasons for a loss of sex drive in females, the underlying causes are often the same. We see examples of this phenomenon HERE. But there are others. They range from ESTROGEN DOMINANCE (which can also affect men), PCOS, HORMONAL DISRUPTIONS, THYROID & HYPOTHALAMUS issues, ADRENAL FATIGUE, DEPRESSION, as well as those that men typically deal with. Although there are underlying reasons for all of these, there is one that stands out above the others. The current peer-reviewed research is pointing to Blood Sugar Dysregulation issues for these and numerous others as well (HERE). To learn more about preventing or reversing these and other health-related problems, simply follow the links.
THE CONNECTION BETWEEN PCOS, LOW LIBIDO, UNCONTROLLED BLOOD SUGAR, AND HIGH TESTOSTERONE
"Androgen excess is the most common endocrine disorder in women of reproductive age. Androgens are produced primarily from the adrenal glands and the ovaries. However, peripheral tissues such as fat and skin also play roles in converting weak androgens to more potent ones. Androgen excess can affect different tissues and organs, causing variable clinical features such as acne, hirsutism, virilization [masculinization] and reproductive dysfunction." From the opening paragraph of Dr. Mohamed Yahya Abdel-Rahman's online article called Adrogen Excess. Abdel-Rahman is a Reproductive Endocrinologist at Sohag University in Egypt.
Generally speaking, when men have chronic health problems they end up with low libidos, which is actually one of the first signs of ill health in males (HERE). They are usually told that this is the result of "LOW T" (not enough testosterone), although Low T has a number of underlying causes. Women can likewise end up with low libidos as the result of long-standing generalized health problems. You have heard me say repeatedly that UNCONTROLLED BLOOD SUGAR --- even in the absence of full-blown DIABETES ---- is at the root of almost every health problem you can name.
One of the most visible examples of this phenomenon is something called PCOS. We know that PCOS is heavily linked to both blood sugar and INSULIN RESISTANCE. So much so in fact, that it is frequently treated with Diabetes drugs such as metformin. With PCOS, women's bodies fail to respond normally to insulin (they require more), and on top of this they make much more testosterone than they need. And as you might have imagined from this post's title, this affects the libido, but not in the way that seems obvious from what you've learned so far (SUGAR IS TURNING MEN INTO WOMEN AND WOMEN INTO MEN).
Although some women with PCOS will actually have an increased sex drive (intuitively, this makes sense), the majority will have a dramatically decreased (or even non-existent) libido. As I'll show you in a moment, much of this depends on what's going on with testosterone levels. So, PCOS is not only the number one cause of INFERTILITY in America (it's arguably America's #1 female endocrine problem), but also a huge contributing factor to SEXUAL DYSFUNCTION as well. While the medical community is busy trying to solve this problem with a host of drugs and procedures (including IVF), I would like to show you what you can do to start the process of getting your life, your fertility, and your libido back on track. Why am I talking about this on my blog? Read the email I got from R.F. of the Seattle area just the other day.
Dear Dr. Schierling,
I am at my wits end. I am a 38 year old married female in very poor physical condition. I admit that I am severely addicted to sugar, sweets, and fast food. Although I was an athlete in college and took great care of myself, over the course of the past 15 years (two healthy teenagers), I have gained over 100 pounds (I am 5'7"). I have been to lots of doctors, and although they all tell me that among other things I have PCOS, nothing they prescribe seems to work for me. I am now on antidepressants along with several other medications. I have absolutely no libido and my husband is becoming more distant by the day. What advice can you give me? I am willing to do anything. Just please do not just tell me to eat less and exercise more like my doctor does. That approach does not work. I cannot go on living like this. Thank you for your website and the amazing amount of information you provide.
Sincerely, XXXXX XXXXX
When women end up with high levels of testosterone caused by Insulin Resistance, they also end up making excess Estrogen as well. This is why they not only end up with PCOS, but are thrown into ESTROGEN DOMINANCE at the same time. Because the female hormones get fouled up, one of the common solutions is to get a prescription for certain hormones (bio-identical hormones are particularly hot right now) to "balance" things out (HERE). With women, it is often some sort of HRT, with men, it is taking testosterone for the supposed "Low T". Let me show you why in and of itself, this is extremely short-sighted.
Don't get me wrong, someone who really knows what they are doing with these hormones can make some dramatic changes in symptoms --- at least for awhile. The problem is that virtually all of the hormones in your body are on negative feedback loops ---- the same sort of loop your air conditioner and heater are on. A thermostat has an adjustable set point, and shuts off your heat or air once the desired temperature is achieved. When the temperature changes, the thermostat fires your unit up again. Hormones are on similar thermostat-like feedback loops. When the body has enough of a hormone, it will shut down endogenous (its own) production. This is why bodybuilders who take testosterone end up with shriveled testicles.
THE TESTOSTERONE DICHOTOMY
Your body's tissues / cells communicate with each other via a number of chemicals. These chemicals have interesting names like CYTOKINES, chemokines, interleukins, or any number of others. We like to refer to these chemicals collectively as "Inflammation". Not too long ago I was at a nutritional seminar where the speaker made an interesting statement. When referring to solving chronic disease states, he said, "Inflammation is everything". In other words, find out what is driving INFLAMMATION, and you'll likely be a long way to solving your problem. Sugar is extremely inflammatory, as is JUNK FOOD. For many people, GLUTEN is massively inflammatory. The list is extensive, and can include everything from heavy metals to parasites. In fact, it can be nearly endless.
What does this have to do with PCOS? Listen to what Hethir Rodriguez of the Natural Fertility Info website has to say on this subject. "It has also been found that women with PCOS have low-grade inflammation, which may be a cause for insulin resistance. White blood cells produce substances to fight infection, this is known as inflammatory response. In some predisposed people eating certain foods, or exposure to certain environmental factors may trigger an inflammatory response. When inflammatory response is triggered, white blood cells produce substances that may contribute to insulin resistance and atherosclerosis." If you want to see a list of the "substances" she is talking about, HERE is a post on the subject.
But back to the question at hand. Why do you find some women with PCOS who are obese and some who are not (because 70% of our society is overweight or obese, most of those with PCOS are naturally going to fall into this category)? And why do you find some women whose sex drive is off the charts, while others (the majority) have sex drive that are in the dumps? There are any number of reasons, but I will attempt to shine some light on a few that I am aware of. I am sure that I am just scratching the surface.
- LENGTH OF TIME WITH THE PROBLEM: When researching this post, it seemed that generally speaking, the vast majority of the women touting increased sex drive with PCOS had not been living with the problem for very long. It also seemed like they were not, for the most part, women struggling with the most hardcore PCOS Symptoms. In other words, I am not sure if I recall seeing a post from a woman with all of the PCOS SYMPTOMS saying that she had a raging libido. In fact, many had no other symptoms than high testosterone on their blood work, and the inability to get pregnant (they may or may not have been overweight).
- SHBG: SHBG stands for Sex Hormone Binding Globlulin. Women manufacture testosterone in several places (25% from the adrenals, 25% from the ovaries, and about half comes from the conversion of androstenedione in the fatty tissues). However, when it comes to testosterone, the number that really matters is how much free testosterone is circulating in the blood stream --- most labs will say this is about 30-75 ng/dl, which is only about 1% of one's total testosterone. According to Dr. Mohamed Yahya Abdel-Rahman, some of the things that cause SHBG to "unbind" from testosterone and leave women with increased levels of free testosterone circulating in their bodies includes HYPOTHYROIDISM (sometime take a moment and compare the symptoms of Hashimoto's to PCOS), EXCESS INSULIN / OBESITY (these two go together like peas in a pod), Glucocorticosteroids such as CORTISOL and CORTISONE, as well as excess androgens themselves. An interesting side note is that Estrogen is antagonistic to Testosterone (it decreases it), which is why the birth control pill is a commonly used medical treatment for PCOS. Just be aware that 'The Pill' has an incredible number of potential side effects itself --- particularly with long term use.
- ESTROGEN DOMINANCE: There are any number of reasons that women can have higher testosterone levels in their system, with PCOS being one of many. Some women simply have more T than others. Read the internet message boards on the subject or look at the peer-reviewed literature and you'll find that women who engage in heavy, complex, multi-joint weight lifting also seem to have both high testosterone levels and higher sex drives (HERE). Remember that although there are probably hundreds of reasons that women have androgenic hormones (testosterone or precursors such as DHEA) in their systems, conversion to Estrogen is one of the biggies. Over-conversion ("aromatization") is just one more thing that can lead to Estrogen Dominance, which is an epidemic among American women. And as far as I am aware, you simply do not find women with significant Estrogen Dominance who have heightened normal sex drives (they are always suppressed).
- GENETICS: I would never hope to tell you that genetics play no part in PCOS. However, it is critical that you understand that EPIGENETICS trumps genetics in case after case after case. "It's my genes" has become the excuse du jour. Once you understand that in many (arguably most) cases you have the ability to turn genes on or off via diet and lifestyle, it can be very empowering.
- POLLUTION / TOXIC LIVING: We are exposed to a wide array of pollutants on a daily basis (HERE), the majority of which are considered to be "ENDOCRINE DISRUPTORS" (they are also known as XENOESTROGENS). Along this same line of thinking, having a toxic (or absent) microbiota (POOR GUT HEALTH) is being linked, along with blood sugar, to most health problems as well. This is loosely called "DYSBIOSIS", and along with a LEAKY GUT, is one of the major consequences of our nation's UNBRIDLED ANTIBIOTIC USE. Another point I have to make here is that it will be impossible to correct hormonal imbalances without being able to clear excesses from your body (HERE).
- STRENGTH TRAINING: STRENGTH TRAINING can increase androgen levels somewhat. However, because it is extremely effective at lowering insulin levels and increasing insulin sensitivity, you will never see it associated as a causal or contributing factor as far as developing PCOS is concerned.
Granted, there are many of you reading this that might very well require the services of someone trained in FUNCTIONAL MEDICINE. The thing is, according to any number of experts, DOING THE BASICS on your own will result in great improvement for many of you; probably the majority of you. For instance, you can already imagine what a PALEO or KETOGENIC DIET do for you! For a complete generic protocol (nothing to buy), take a look at THIS POST.
SEX AND THE HEALTHY MARRIAGE
When the question was asked of mothers as to how long they had gone without sex, the answers were rather shocking. One third said that they had gone "a few years" without sex, while 36% said they had gone "a few months". Over a quarter said they had gone "a few weeks" without. This means that 7 out of 10 mothers are going very long periods of time without sex. And unless there is some extracurricular hanky-panky going on, this would likewise ring true for their husbands as well. "I am not interested in sex" was also the number one topic that women (6 out of 10) said they would talk about with their best friend but not their doctor. How big a deal is this as far as quality of marriage is concerned? Let's look at a brand new study that was published in the January 27 issue of the Oxford Journals Journal of Gerentology to give us some potential insight into this matter.
Gerentology is the study of older folks and of the aging process itself. Researchers from Johns Hopkins University (Sexual Activity and Psychological Health As Mediators of the Relationship Between Physical Health and Marital Quality) recently concluded that, "We find that own fair or poor physical health is linked to lower positive and higher negative marital quality, spouse’s health to positive quality, and that own and spouse’s mental health and more frequent sex are associated with higher positive and lower negative marital quality. Further, we find that (a) sexual activity mediates the association between own and partner’s physical health and positive marital quality, (b) own mental health mediates the association between one’s own physical health and both positive and negative marital quality, and (c) partner’s mental health mediates the associations of spouse’s physical health with positive marital quality. These results are robust to alternative specifications of the model."
- Poorer health is linked to lower marriage quality.
- Poor mental health (although they were not mentioned in the Abstract, the most likely culprits here are things like DEPRESSION, or neuro-degenerative diseases such as ALZHEIMER'S, PARKINSONS, and MS) is related to poor marriage quality.
- If your spouse is healthy, your marriage quality will be better.
- More frequent sex is associated with better marriage quality.
- Sexual activity mediates / controls / is a determining factor not only in the quality of your marriage, but in both the husband and wife's physical health.
- Your mental health mediates / controls / is a determining factor not only in your physical health and quality of marriage, but in your spouse's as well.
Although this would seem to be commons sense, what are the implications for American marriages? In light of what we already know, not good. Health-wise, we know that when you count those who are SKINNY FAT, nearly 80% of our nation's adult population is either OBESE OR OVERWEIGHT. Furthermore, if you go back and look at the same Family Circle survey that was mentioned previously, nearly 60% of those polled said they exercise no more than once a month. Do you think that these two factors might be playing a role in the fact that America has the highest divorce rate on the planet (and other than Puerto Rico --- an American territory that will likely be our next state --- it's not even close)? Absolutely! But it does not have to be this way. If you understand the relationship between things like GUT HEALTH, DIET, INFLAMMATORY DISEASES, and AUTOIMMUNITY, you can literally begin the process of regaining control of your health and your life. Face it. Your doctor visits and medications aren't cutting it. It's time to take the bull by the horns and make some real changes. If you value your marriage and your family, it might be one of the most important decisions you've ever made.
Dr. Schierling completed four years of Kansas State University's five-year Nutrition / Exercise Physiology Program before deciding on a career in Chiropractic. He graduated from Logan Chiropractic College in 1991, and has run a busy clinic in Mountain View, Missouri ever since. He and his wife Amy have four children (three daughters and a son).
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