Are Some Foods Killing Your Sex Drive?

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Aphrodisiacs get plenty of airtime, but not enough is said about foods that could kill your sex drive. To know which foods to avoid, it’s important to understand how they work. Your sex drive is the amalgamation of several physiological, cultural, and psychological factors. Men’s libido is closely related to their testosterone levels – a high testosterone level corresponds to a higher sex drive, and vice-versa. Additionally, if men have higher levels of estrogen, their libido could suffer.

Foods that increase testosterone levels can improve the sex drives of both genders. But foods that increase estrogen can heighten a woman’s libido and dampen that of a man.


However, women’s sex drive increases with both estrogen and testosterone. If her estrogen levels are low, so is her libido – which explains why menopause often affects a woman’s sex drive.[ref]van Anders, Sari M. “Testosterone and sexual desire in healthy women and men.” Archives of Sexual Behavior 41, no. 6 (2012): 1471-1484.[/ref] [ref][ref]McCoy, Norma L., and Julian M. Davidson. “A longitudinal study of the effects of menopause on sexuality.” Maturitas 7, no. 3 (1985): 203-210.[/ref] Though a male hormone, testosterone can influence a woman’s sex drive. This is why women with sexual dysfunction are often put on testosterone therapy, provided they have sufficient levels of estrogen. To sum it up, women’s sex drive hangs on a fine balance between estrogen and testosterone.

Watch out for these foods if you’ve been experiencing some trouble with “getting in the mood.” These foods influence the balance of sex hormones in your body and could even interfere with normal physiological functions, causing blood pressure to rise and depriving you of a great sexual experience.


1. Bottled Water

No, water is not a sex drive dampener. But bottled water can well be. The bisphenol A (BPA) found in plastic bottles can wreak havoc on your sex life without you even realizing what’s responsible. Researchers have found that excessive exposure to the material, resulting in increased urine BPA levels, can create reduced sexual desire, erectile difficulty, ejaculation problems, and lower satisfaction with sex life.[ref]Li, De‐Kun, Zhijun Zhou, Maohua Miao, Yonghua He, Dandan Qing, Tongjun Wu, Jintao Wang et al. “Relationship Between Urine Bisphenol‐A Level and Declining Male Sexual Function.” Journal of andrology 31, no. 5 (2010): 500-506.[/ref] Another study concluded that increased exposure to BPA during a test that lasted 6 weeks caused the count of Leydig cells (responsible for testosterone production) to drop, resulting in a significant dip in levels of the hormone.[ref]Nakamura, Daichi, Yukie Yanagiba, Zhiwen Duan, Yuki Ito, Ai Okamura, Nobuyuki Asaeda, Yoshiaki Tagawa et al. “Bisphenol A may cause testosterone reduction by adversely affecting both testis and pituitary systems similar to estradiol.” Toxicology letters 194, no. 1 (2010): 16-25.[/ref]



2. Canned Foods

Salty snacks and brine- or salt-based tinned foods, with high sodium content, can cause your blood pressure to go up. This can adversely impact blood flow to the genital region and dampen your sexual experience. Which is why high blood pressure is implicated as one of the causes of erectile dysfunction.[ref]Erectile Dysfunction and High Blood Pressure, American Heart Association[/ref] When you pick canned foods, look for those where the foods are preserved in their own juices or fresh water instead.[ref]How to stock your kitchen to lower your blood pressure, Blood Pressure Association UK.[/ref]



3. High-Fiber Veggies

Try feeling sexy when you’re all windy or feeling bloated – now, that’s a tough ask for anyone! While fiber-rich vegetables are great for digestion and gut health, some vegetables could actually increase bloating or that feeling of gassiness. The National Health Services (NHS) advises against consuming too much cabbage, cauliflower, sprouts, beans, broccoli, and even onions (which could also double up as potential bad breath triggers if they are eaten raw) if you want to cut down wind or bloating in the body.[ref]Beat the bloat, NHS.[/ref]



4. Coffee

The caffeine in a cup of coffee might seem like the ultimate sinful indulgence, but the beverage, especially when consumed in large quantities, can make you anxious. If you have a history of anxiety disorders, avoiding coffee becomes even more important.[ref]Broderick, Pamela, and Ashley B. Benjamín. “Caffeine and psychiatric symptoms: a review.” The Journal of the Oklahoma State Medical Association 97, no. 12 (2004): 538-542.[/ref] And when was the last time someone anxious and jittery made a great partner in bed? Remember, coffee stays in your body for several hours (it takes about 5–6 hours to wear off just half of what you’ve drunk), so it may be wise to skip the coffee on a day you plan to indulge your sexual fantasies.[ref]Vanderveen, J. E., L. E. Armstrong, G. E. Butterfield, W. L. Chenoweth, J. T. Dwyer, J. D. Fernstrom, R. B. Kanarek, O. A. Levander, and E. M. Sternberg. “Caffeine for the sustainment of mental task performance: formulations for military operations.” National Academy, Washington, DC (2001).[/ref]



5. Bread

Bread lovers might struggle with being sexually driven in bed, and that’s because of the testosterone-lowering effects of the phytoestrogens in it.[ref]Weber, K. S., K. D. Setchell, D. M. Stocco, and E. D. Lephart. “Dietary soy-phytoestrogens decrease testosterone levels and prostate weight without altering LH, prostate 5alpha-reductase or testicular steroidogenic acute regulatory peptide levels in adult male Sprague-Dawley rats.” Journal of Endocrinology 170, no. 3 (2001): 591-599.[/ref] What makes the case against bread even more potent is that all the carbohydrate content (especially if it’s processed grain based) in it can make you feel slow and sluggish.[ref]Five Surprising Foods That Could Be Making You Tired, National Sleep Foundation.[/ref] Pasta, too, has similar effects. So swap your go-to date night favorite of pasta with something healthier and lighter and more libido-friendly like a healthy salad. Hitting the sack before hitting the home run can have disastrous consequences, don’t you think?



6. Alcohol And Drugs

Your drinking habit could be impacting your sexual life. If you are a heavy or chronic drinker, alcohol consumption could lead to sexual dysfunction and distress that interfere with your sexual life and libido.[ref]Arackal, Bijil Simon, and Vivek Benegal. “Prevalence of sexual dysfunction in male subjects with alcohol dependence.” Indian Journal of Psychiatry 49, no. 2 (2007): 109.[/ref] As the NHS cautions, what might begin as “brewer’s droop” could escalate into erectile problems, in the long run, so mind how much you drink.[ref]Male sexual problems. NHS.[/ref]

Another cause of a low sex drive could be drugs. If you regularly use marijuana, it could take a toll on your libido. Although cannabis is known to heighten the senses, its long-term use can actually reduce your sex drive. The THC in marijuana also lowers sperm count in men and affects fertility in women.[ref]Sex and Marijuana. SexInfo, University of California, Santa Barbara.[/ref]


7. French Fries

As much as we all like french fries, it’s best to give them a pass if you’re looking to boost your sex drive. French fries are high in saturated fat, which reduces blood circulation, leading to a dampened libido. Moreover, the salt content in fries increases your blood pressure and causes fatigue, thereby decreasing your sex drive.[ref]Urban, Lorien E., Susan B. Roberts, Jamie L. Fierstein, Christine E. Gary, and Alice H. Lichtenstein. “Sodium, saturated fat, and trans fat content per 1,000 kilocalories: temporal trends in fast-food restaurants, United States, 2000-2013.” Preventing chronic disease 11 (2014): E228-E228.[/ref] [ref]How High Blood Pressure Can Affect Your Sex Life. American Heart Association.[/ref]

If you’re planning to get down and dirty with your partner, it’s best to stay away from these libido-killers. Instead, opt for foods like dark chocolate, bananas, and berries – they’re delicious and are known to work as aphrodisiacs!