The Crazy Thing That Could Be Killing Your Sex Drive
There are a few things that you already know can mess with your libido: stress, depression, and too many martinis, to name a few. But a new study from the University of Rochester School of Medicine found that there’s another much more surprising factor that may have an effect on your sex drive: phthalates, a type of endocrine-disrupting chemicals used in plastics and some personal-care products
For the study, researchers looked at 360 pregnant women. The women were asked about any sexual problems prior to conception and had their urine tested for phthalate metabolite concentrations. They looked at two main dimensions of sexual dysfunction: lack of interest in sexual activity and vaginal dryness. In the end, 46 women said they were sexually disinterested in the months prior to conception, and 37 reported vaginal dryness. Interestingly, there was an association between their libidos and phthalate content: Women who had the most phthalate in their systems were 2.6 times more likely to report a lack of interest in sexual activity.
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It's important to note that this research only looked at pregnant women, so they cannot be sure that the results would apply to non-pregnant women, too. What's more, the study has not yet been published by a peer-reviewed journal; the research is still being reviewed and was presented at the recent American Society for Reproductive Medicine meeting in Honolulu, Hawaii.
That said, this isn't the first study to point to the potentially harmful effects of endocrine-disrupting chemicals like phthalates and BPA, exposure to which is believed to interfere with your natural hormone levels. According to the CDC, most exposure to phthalates happens through eating or drinking processed foods from containers that have phthalates or using soaps, body washes, shampoos, and cosmetics that contain them.
MORE: What You Need to Know About BPA
It can't hurt to be extra-cautious and try to limit your own exposure to the chemicals. "To do so, reducing reliance on processed foods, including canned goods and fast foods, may be a good place to start," especially during pregnancy, says the study's lead researcher Emily Barrett, Ph.D., assistant professor in the department of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Rochester. Read more about why it's worth it to go organic.
If you're pregnant and feel your sex drive needs a boost, talk to your doctor and try these tricks to get your libido back.
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