From Gut to Bedroom: Gut Health’s Role in Sexual Wellness  

From Gut to Bedroom: Gut Health’s Role in Sexual Wellness  


by Men's Health Clinic

Gut health has always been more than just another term for digestive wellness. It’s linked to various other areas of well-being, such as your mental, emotional, and even sexual health. In terms of sexual well-being, there are multiple ways your gut health can affect your overall sexual health. Your gut health can change the balance of your mood, energy, desire, and arousal significantly. 

In this piece, we will discuss further the “gut-sex connection” and why it’s one of the critical areas to focus on to achieve a better sexual life. We’ll also discuss the best foods to maintain your gut’s health or optimise its function. 

 

Explaining the Gut Microbiome 

A study by the Harvard School of Health describes the “gut microbiome” as “an entirely unique network of microbiota that is originally determined by one’s DNA”. It further explains that each person has one of these networks that go on to collect their own set of microorganisms starting from birth via breast milk and the environment one is exposed to at birth. The process then continues collecting these microorganisms all throughout their lives.  

Each microbiome is filled with a small number of disease-promoting microbes, and a majority of these microbes are working for the benefit of both the microbiota and the human body. When your body is healthy, a balance is usually maintained between the two types of microbes. But if something interferes with that balance, the resulting “dysbiosis” (or imbalance) can leave one vulnerable to diseases. These diseases then cause several sexual dysfunctions like premature ejaculation (PE) and erectile dysfunction (ED)

 

Gut Health and Men’s Sexual Function 

The gut microbiome affects one’s sexual health in more ways than one.  

In fact, there’s a term called the “gut-brain axis.” The gut-brain axis is a proven connection between the gut and men’s sexual wellness. It is the two-way biochemical signalling or communication between our central nervous systems and gastrointestinal tracts. 

Research by Dr. Katelyn Cloyd underscores the importance of the two-way communication between the brain and the gut and how it is made through hormones and other nervous system connections. 

Sexual function can be affected in any number of ways, including hormonal balance. If an imbalance occurs, this can affect the hormone reproduction of, say, testosterone. A decrease in testosterone will also decrease the level of sexual desire while increasing the likelihood of conditions like obesity and Type 2 Diabetes. 

Gut microbiota also governs the production of neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine. Serotonin is 90% produced in the gut and affects sexual behaviour, mood, emotion, and pain perception. Dopamine is involved in cognitive function, reward, and other reproductive behaviours, as well as involved in blood vasoconstriction, which affects one’s erectile function.  

Chronic gut conditions can also interfere with your normal pattern of sexual function. Conditions such as microscopic colitis, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), ulcerative colitis, and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) are some of the common conditions associated with sexual dysfunction like ED and PE. Flatulence, bloating, vomiting, fatigue, and pain are common symptoms associated with these conditions, which may reduce your sexual desire and energy. 

 

Foods that promote gut health and sexual wellness 

Probiotics are a desirable source of nutrition for gut health. They are living bacteria that provide benefits for those who consume them. Many of the effects affiliated with probiotics are usually essential for preventing impaired vascular function like erectile dysfunction

Probiotics are usually found in fermented foods such as kefir, yogurt, sauerkraut, and kimchi. However, it is not recommended to take probiotic food when your immune system is weakened or you are ill. 

There are also “prebiotics”, which are often confused with the former. Prebiotics essentially provide food for the growth of good bacteria in the gut. Its components are essential for promoting an environment for healthy vascular function. 

Its nutrients are made up of acetate, butyrate, and propionate, which are different types of short-chain fatty acids. Some great examples of prebiotic-rich foods include garlic, onion, asparagus, leeks, bananas, apples, oats, and even cocoa. 

Collagen-producing foods may also benefit you greatly in reinforcing overall gut health. Collagen is usually highlighted for how it helps ease blood flow—resulting in optimum erectile function and sexual desire. Collagen-producing food includes fish, chicken cartilage, egg whites, leafy greens, and tropical fruits.  

 

Conclusion 

From chronic conditions to hormone balances, it’s quite clear that a healthy gut and men’s sexual wellness are intrinsically linked. It’s also clear that the specific needs of the gut microbiome can change from person to person. The different combinations of microbiota a person is exposed to can dictate different dietary needs to maintain a healthy gut. Sudden shifts in your diet and new supplements you take can upset these balances, so it is better to introduce a new diet and supplement gradually. 

Consulting a healthcare professional who has experience tackling general well-being and sexual health is the next best step. Only professionals can confirm what your food sensitivities may require, and their recommendations for diet and treatments are more on-point and tailored to your needs. 

Is your gut telling you something about your sexual health? Feel free to book a consultation with the Men’s Health Clinic—your trusted telehealth clinic for men. 

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