Psychoneuroendocrinology Part I: Understanding The Physio-Emotional Connections Between Libido, Intimacy and Fertility

A guest blog by Christine M. Dionese L.Ac MSTOM – Integrative Health Care Specialist

Patients often come to me with the intention of conceiving, yet lack the key ingredients to get there; like intimacy and libido. Let me tell you ladies (and any men reading), loss of libido is not age-dependent and can happen to any woman at any time throughout her life!

If yours is shot, good news, it can come back with a few simple lifestyle and wellness changes that will get you and your partner on the path to conceiving! First, let’s figure out, why it might be hiding.

Where Did My Libido Go?

Earlier this year Joanne wrote about our internal mind-body superpower, Psychoneuroimmunology. Its closely related “cousin,” Psychoneuroendocrinology shares similar explorations into the affects emotions elicit on human physiology. PNE highlights the connections between neuro-psychology, immunology and endocrinology… Just the things that influence our fertility, presence of libido and ability to conceive.

Our bodies sometimes have a funny way of signaling that we need to get back into balance. What I love about the psychoneuroendocrinological approach to wellness is that it’s like a medical decoder ring, helping to decipher how seemingly obscure elements of our emotional lives play such a large role in our overall well-being.

We’ve learned through the stories and contributors at Circle + Bloom that sexual vitality, intimacy and libido are experienced when we feel centered, happy and healthy. These vital ingredients for conception depend on whole-person health. It’s important to identify the possible immuno-endocrinological connections now to get a better understanding of why you might be missing out on a stronger libido.

Start by asking yourself the following questions to unlock subtle clues your body might be offering you:

1. How’s My Immune System?

  • Are you always catching what’s going around? Maybe you experience an auto-immune concern or immune-related illness? Are there any lingering immune concerns, such as a chronic cough?
  • Do you experience regular GI upset (immunity and the gut go hand-in-hand)

2. Could It Be A Medication I’m Taking?

  • Certain prescription drugs such as anti-depressants, high blood pressure meds and chemotherapy drugs can be quite taxing on the libido.

3. What About My Endocrine System?

  • Have you been feeling tired?
  • Experiencing appetite fluctuations, headaches, copious thirst or shakiness? Your blood sugar could be involved; have you been screened for hypoglycemia or diabetes?
  • How about pro-longed exposure to environmental or emotional stress?

4. Is The Immuno-Endocrine Connection Activated?

  • Have you undergone thorough thyroid screening?
  • What’s really going on with your hormone levels?

Now that you’ve got some things to consider about total-body wellness, here’s my top “hands-on” lifestyle tips to bring back libido, increase intimacy and improve fertility that everyone can embrace. While you’re exploring those underlying connections, here’s a few fun ideas to get you in the mood!


Yep, I said it, don’t be shy! Often when certain hormones are deficient from over-work or a sedentary lifestyle, a decreased sense of sexuality or lack of motivation occurs. My suggestion? Forgo the guilt and get busy…

When we masturbate, small amounts of the hormone prolactin is released, signaling the body to produce neuro-chemicals such as dopamine, responsible for happiness, self-confidence, motor coordination and ease of mind. Researchers agree this type of activity helps build intimacy. Like to see the science? A team at Boston University conducted a telling study demonstrating the connection.

Think about it. Getting in touch with yourself builds the bridge to extend yourself to your partner. What a great way to bring back those familiar feelings of wanting to connect!

Energy Cultivating Exercise

Regular, consistent exercise not only does wonders for the heart, but also for our brains. Both exercise and masturbation produce those great mood boosting substances to re-charge your libido. The Chinese arts of both qi gong and tai chi build and circulate energy vital for endurance and sexual longevity.

For an invigorating and activating experience, bend and stretch with yoga. Practitioners of yoga report feeling centered, more open and ready to recieve.

All three of these activities signal our body’s proprioceptive qualities (the ability for our body to know where and how it is moving through time and space) building and enhancing neurological connections.

Chat Time

Sometimes a little verbal acknowledgment goes a long way! I assure patients this recognition signals your partner that your interest in sex hasn’t disappeared. Getting out of the house and talking with your partner helps add a new element of curiosity into your relationship. If you’re feeling nervous, not to worry. Chances are your partner wants to talk too, but just isn’t sure what to say. Leave a note letting them know you want to go for a walk or have a coffee to talk.

Reach Out

Ask yourself, “when is the last time we held hands?” If you can’t remember it’s time to reach out and extend a hand. If you haven’t had regular intimate touch in a while it might be too much of a stretch to go right to sex.

Try a little back-rub, grab your partner’s hand on the next walk, sit on the same side of the table at dinner or reach over and tickle away while watching something funny on tv. May sound silly, but these little touches and pokes will help lead to foreplay and maybe sex. Building in intimacy now will also help you and your partner remain connected once baby is born!

Love Your Heart

Sex is one of the least expensive and most satisfying ways to stay healthy and out of the doctor’s office! Regular intimacy has been shown to reduce your risk of heart disease, provide better slumber, be neuro-protective (because of new neuro-hormone production), reduce aches and pain, improve bladder tonicity, increase our olfactory sense, and reduce the overall affects of stress.

Ready to Make the Connection?! Go Green Between the Sheets

Try these eco-friendly personal care products:

Remember, just have fun getting back in touch with yourself and your partner! An active libido means a healthier, happier, more relaxed couple on their way to natural conception! Have a tip of your own to share? We want to hear about it!

Christine lives and works bi-coastally in both California and New York. She is an integrative health care specialist, medical journalist and business development consultant. Her private practice highlights the field of psychoneuroendocrinology which explores the dynamic connections between neuropsychology, endocrinology and immunology. Her devotion to patient awareness and advocacy is evidenced through this result-driven, multi-disciplinary practice style which integrates Chinese medicine, functional medicine, acupuncture and clinical nutrition. Her mission: offer tangible tools for modern living!
Currently, Christine is working on a medicinal culinary therapy book incorporating Chinese herbal medicine and kitchen garden wisdom for the modern eater. Visit Christine’s interactive blogs, Reaching Beyond Now and Garden Eats; she’d love to hear from you!

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