The Secret to Better Sex? A Healthy Gut

By Dr. Nicole Cain ND, MA

Key Takeaways

Are you concerned about your sexual health? If so, you’re not alone. Millions of people around the world experience sexual problems, from low sex drive to erectile dysfunction. In fact, according to a study published in the Journal of Sexual Research, nearly 40% of sexually active men and 23% of sexually active women experience problems related to their sexual health.

While we all know that sexual health is significantly related to hormones, what you might not know is that your gut health has a lot to do with having a better sex life. A growing body of research suggests that there is a strong connection between sexual desire, sexual performance, and sexual satisfaction.

The gut is home to trillions of bacteria, which together make up the gut microbiome. This microbiome plays an important role in many aspects of health, including digestion, immunity, mood, and as you’ll discover, your libido.

Wondering how your gut microbiome can be related to your sexual health? In this article, we’ll discuss the gut-sex connection and see why gut bacteria might be key to a better sex life

The Gut-Brain Microbiome Axis: How Your Gut Affects Your Sex Life

Before we explore the gut-sex connection, let’s first understand the biochemical mechanisms behind your sexual behavior and the way your gut microbiome works.

Whether you experience sexual agitation, loss of libido, or something in between completely depends on the way your hormones and neurotransmitters work. As a matter of fact, hormones such as estrogen, testosterone, oxytocin, melanocortin, vasopressin, and dopamine influence your sexual motivation. On the other hand, sexual inhibition depends on the levels of serotonin, prolactin, and opioids in your body, as well as the endocannabinoid system.

The gut microbiome is a complex community of bacteria that live in your intestines. These bacteria play an important role in your digestion, immunity, and mood. Recent research has also shown that the gut microbiome can affect sex hormones.

For example, one study found that women with a healthy gut microbiome were more likely to report increased sexual desire and satisfaction. Another study found that men with a healthy gut microbiome were more likely to have a normal erectile function.

These studies suggest that there may be two-way communication between the gut and the brain. The gut microbiome can affect the brain, and the brain can also affect the gut microbiome.

This communication may be responsible for the link between gut health and sexual health. For example, the gut microbiome produces serotonin, a neurotransmitter that plays a role in mood, appetite, and sexual desire. When the gut microbiome is unhealthy, it may produce less serotonin. This can lead to decreased mood, appetite, and sexual desire.

The Gut-Brain Axis and Female Sexual Health

Decreased libido in women can be caused by a wide range of physical, physiological, mental, or emotional factors. For example, life-changing events such as pregnancy or breastfeeding, excessive stress, anxiety, exhaustion, hormonal problems, or contraceptives can decrease sex drive. Based on research, another significant factor that can affect sexual desire and lead to a loss of interest in any type of sexual activity can be related to gut health.

One specific sexual condition in women linked to the gut microbiome is called hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD). This is a condition that can be defined as an absence of desire for sexual activity or a low sex drive that leads to distress and relationship problems. According to a 2021 study, there are significant differences in the gut microbiome between women diagnosed with HSDD and the control group.

The study found that women with HSDD had lower levels of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium, two types of bacteria that are known to be beneficial for gut health. They also had higher levels of Proteobacteria, a type of bacteria that is associated with inflammation.

The researchers believe that these changes in the gut microbiome may be responsible for the decreased libido in women with HSDD. They suggest that by improving gut health, it may be possible to improve sexual desire in women with this condition leading to a better sex life.

Specifically, women with HSDD are characterized by a decreased amount of Ruminococcaceae bacteria in the gut microbiome. Ruminococcaceae plays a crucial role in the maintenance of gut health, including digestion, stress management, hormone regulation, and libido. When Ruminococcaceae levels are low, it can lead to digestive problems, stress, hormonal imbalances, and decreased libido.

A 2021 study found that women with HSDD had significantly lower levels of Ruminococcaceae bacteria than women without HSDD. The study also found that women with HSDD had higher levels of Proteobacteria bacteria, which is associated with inflammation.

The researchers believe that the decrease in Ruminococcaceae bacteria may be a contributing factor to the development of HSDD. They suggest that by increasing Ruminococcaceae levels, it may be possible to improve sexual desire in women with this condition.

One more interesting insight from this study is that women with HSDD also had an excessive quantity of Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus species in the gut compared to healthy controls. This negatively correlated with the sexual desire score, meaning that women with increased levels of these species had lowered libido. This result can be explained by the fact that Bifidobacterium is in positive correlation with serotonin precursors kynurenic acid and tryptophan. Uncontrolled use of supplements that contain these serotonin precursors might lead to excessive levels of serotonin, which, surprisingly, can suppress sexual excitement.

As a result, the maintenance of optimal libido levels and adaptive sexual drive is significantly related to the balance between gut microbes and neurotransmitters in women.

The Gut-Brain Microbiota Axis and Erectile Dysfunction

While gut health is associated with hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD) in women, a sexual problem linked to gut health in men is erectile dysfunction (ED). This condition, which is often referred to as “impotence” and can be defined as trouble maintaining an erection, is common in men around the world and is considered one of the most common sexual disorders. In fact, it occurs in about 26% of men under the age of 40.

There are a number of factors that can contribute to ED, including age, lifestyle choices, and underlying health conditions. However, recent research suggests that gut health may also play a role.

For example, one study found that men with ED had lower levels of certain beneficial bacteria in their gut microbiome than men without ED. The study also found that men with ED had higher levels of harmful bacteria in their gut microbiome.

The researchers believe that these changes in the gut microbiome may be responsible for the development of ED. They suggest that by improving gut health, it may be possible to improve sexual function in men with this condition, leading to a better sex life.

Other than hormonal imbalance, a normal erectile function also depends on various other factors, such as emotional and psychological well-being, satisfying relationships, genetics, or environmental factors, which, in turn, can be impacted by gut microbes.

Consequently, some gut-informed medical professionals may suggest men take measures to diversify their gut microbiota. Taking care of gut health can help men regulate hormone levels and prevent ED and other sexual problems.

Can Probiotics Improve Your Sex Life?

Now that you understand that your sexual health is significantly related to your gut microbiome, you might be wondering whether you can use probiotics to improve your sexual desire.

While the main purpose of using probiotics is not related to sexual behavior per se, rather some studies have shown that probiotics can have a positive effect on sexual desire and help improve sexual performance.

Therefore, if your decreased libido or erectile dysfunction is associated with an imbalance in your gut microbiota, diversifying your gut and using probiotics can help you improve your sexual ability. However, it is important to note that probiotics will not necessarily lead to a better sex life if your sexual problems are caused by other factors, such as stress, relationship problems, neurological problems, or physical problems that occur independently of your gut microbiome.

Concluding remarks

In conclusion, the gut and the brain are connected through the gut-brain axis. This means that what happens in the gut can have a significant impact on sexual health. Studies have shown that people with poor gut health are more likely to experience sexual problems, such as low libido, erectile dysfunction, and vaginal dryness.

By taking steps to improve your gut health, you can also have a better sex life. There are a number of things you can do to get started:

Three Steps for Better Sex & Sexual Happiness

Step 1: Get in the Holistic Wellness Collective where you will get access to the best gut healing solutions for getting your mood, libido, and digestive health back on track.


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Step 2: Start making changes to your diet right away, so that when you get in the Holistic Wellness Collective, you can hit the ground running. Good hacks you can implement today: Eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.

Step 3: Check out the Gut Psychology Program

Learn how to be your own gut-brain healing guru in this self-paced course.

Gut Psychology Program

This article is for educational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice. Whenever considering changing your protocol whether it includes a change of medications, supplements, diet or lifestyle, always speak with your primary care physician first.

Dr. Nicole Cain is an advocate for empowering people around the world to help themselves via her educational free resources, online courses, and membership group. You can receive the tools you need to find the root cause of your symptoms and feel healthy again.