Welcome to the more technical part of what’s in play nutritionally when we are framing food as appropriate for sexual drive and for the unique state that is the postpartum body. :)
It also might be helpful to know a few details about hormones and sex drive/ sexual desire/libido. Testosterone might be what we typically link to sex drive but progesterone and estrogen are also major players here as well. This is really about balance more than anything else and as I mentioned before, it’s normal to have low sex drive in the postpartum because these are in flux in postpartum. Worthy of noting, many of the mechanisms at play here have shown to have increased fertility - both for male and female. Breastfeeding may prolong the onset of menstrual cycle but this is not foolproof. Birth control is one option for management of this if you so choose - please ask your provider or reach out to a Planned Parenthood.
So to elaborate more on the post “ link coming soon “ over at Ritual Art of Wellness, here is a bit more information as to why a food might work as an aphrodisiac and favor the postpartum period.
Worth starting with since it’s a really important part of my recommendations in the early postpartum. Foods that create warmth and particularly warming spices! These thermogenic foods benefit the body because they increase blood flow and circulation. They are vasodilators which are important for getting things moving. Read more about Warming Spice here.
Polyphenols - Micronutrients found in plants, vegetables, teas, spices. These are bioactive components that you may be familiar with include resveratrol, flavonoids, catechins, and phenolic acids and many many more. They reduce oxidative stress, relax blood vessels and improve circulation.
Zinc: An important one you will see mentioned very often is zinc. It plays a key role - especially in male fertility; increases production of free testosterone and helps sex drive too. For women, zinc is important in making breast milk, wound healing and since birth givers do not store excess zinc, we can be depleted going through pregnancy and nursing.
Omega 3s: DHA, EPA, and ALA act therapeutically in the body. DHA and EPA are commonly found in seafood, while ALA is harder to come by and is typically found in plants. They have a significant role in inflammatory response, and work on the central nervous system. They increase dopamine (mood), help with stamina, and are absolutely a vital part of the postpartum nutrition picture.
B Vitamins: > Folate: B vitamins are a vital part of sex hormone production but pregnant people especially need folate. Needed for new cell generation (making of tiny human) and prevention of birth defects. Folate also relates back to dopamine AND histamine levels in the body. > Vitamin B6: Ups libido (in women) and important for mood by regulating hormones. And the nervous system > Vitamin B3: Niacin helps increase blood flow and is key in orgasms and supports adrenals.
Vitamin E: This fat soluble friend is why we need quality nuts in our life. Known to have an effect on sex drive/desire, increase blood flow and produce hormones. It’s helpful for male fertility particularly, and can heighten sex drive. Not to mention supple skin!
Iodine: Really this one is about thyroid health as is so much of this subject matter. But to be honest, iodine is a bit like the nutrient left behind. Iodine is concentrated in the thyroid, breasts, ovaries and cervix so it’s no wonder why it affects postpartum AND sexual function. Important in breast health, fertility/lactation and metabolism.
Magnesium: Providing both a calming and relaxing effect, magnesium has shown to boost testosterone and improve libido.
You guys...I have to say there really is so much more on this to take in. Too much to write here but please know that there are other important factors here. Vitamin D levels + intake, vitamin A, potassium, sleep debt, iron-stores, consecutive pregnancies, trauma all matter too. Did you finish the post over at Ritual where I reiterate the importance of committing to a sacred and nourished postpartum? “Anchored + Balanced: A Roadmap to a Balanced Postpartum” may be helpful in thinking through a plan. Advocating for your health here, whether it’s your sexual health or the health of your postpartum body (and mind!) by asking questions and seeking answers will help you feel empowered in your decision making. Ritual has midwife Morgan at Soft Corner Midwifery right there and, of course, I am here to help work with your through some nutrition planning. It’s important to identify if you might need more specialized help like a Naturopath, Functional Med Doc, RD, or Endocrinologist.
LEARN MORE @ Small Batch Wellness