Fitness and female libido

Staying Fit Boosts Female Libido

Regular exercise, whether it’s in short bursts or a long-term regimen, benefits women’s sexual health in a variety of ways.

You might know that exercise is good for your sexual health. It keeps your blood pumping, maintains your strength and flexibility, and makes you feel good about yourself.

A March 2018 study published in Sexual Medicine Reviews tells us more about how this link between exercise and sexual health works, at least for women. They discussed both acute and chronic exercise.

Effects of acute exercise are the shorter-term results, such as a temporary increase in heart rate that happens while you run. Chronic exercise also has effects, but they take longer to see.

The researchers found that acute exercise can help regulate hormones, such as estrogen, which is essential for sexual arousal. Estrogen keeps vaginal tissue flexible and lubricated when a woman becomes aroused.

Exercise is also good for the sympathetic nervous system (SNS), which also contributes to sexual arousal. The SNS is a component of the autonomic nervous system, the network that controls behind-the-scenes bodily processes like heart rate and blood pressure.

Sticking to a regular (chronic) exercise regimen has sexual benefits, too, although they are more indirect:
◾ Cardiovascular health. Staying fit is good for the heart and blood vessels, and it reduces the risk for heart disease symptoms, like atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) and high blood pressure.

Example: Atherosclerosis occurs when plaques build up on artery walls, restricting blood flow. This can happen anywhere in the body, including the genitals. Good genital blood flow is important for women’s arousal, and regular exercise can keep those blood vessels in good working order.
◾ Mood. Exercise improves mood and alleviates depression, anxiety, and stress. These psychological factors have been linked to poor sexual function. Through exercise, better mood may lead to better sex.

Example: The authors noted past study results showing higher levels of sexual satisfaction in university students who exercised three times a week.
◾ Body image. Another bonus of exercise is increased body satisfaction and confidence, especially if one is meeting exercise goals.

Example: When a woman has a poor body image, she might become so distracted by it that she cannot focus on pleasure and intimacy with her partner. Improving body image through exercise can take this pressure off, so a woman can be more “present.”

In addition, some women with poor body image avoid sexual situations altogether. Exercise may help them feel more comfortable with a partner.

While exercise has its benefits, its important to see a doctor before starting any fitness program. A doctor can also screen for other health situations that might interfere with sex, such as menopause or diabetes.


“Medical Definition of Autonomic Nervous System”

(Reviewed on March 6, 2018)

Sexual Medicine Reviews

Stanton, Amelia A., BA, et al.

“The Effects of Exercise on Sexual Function in Women”

(Full- text. Article in Press. Published online: March 29, 2018)