Gut and sex life: Here are 5 ways gut issues affect sexual health


Do digestive problems affect your ability to engage in sexual activity? If so, you’re not alone in this. Many people who have digestive problems also have discomfort during sex. This is merely a piece of knowledge regarding the link between sexual and digestive health. There are many ways in which the gut and sex life are connected, and how having digestive problems might make it difficult to have sex.

HealthShots spoke to Dr Sanjay Kumavat, Consultant Psychiatrist and Sexologist, Fortis Hospital, Mulund, to find out how gut health and sex life are interlinked.

What’s the link between gut health and sex life?

Most of us have watched the movie ‘Piku’, in which the character played by actor Amitabh Bachman has a preoccupation with his bowel movements. Well, in this context, we aim to understand the “feel good” feeling that a person experiences during both bowel evacuations and while eating food when hungry. Well, this feel-good phenomenon occurs because of the hormone serotonin that’s released following both gut acts. Dr Kumavat says, “The serotonin hormone is a ‘happiness hormone’ of the body and is present in the entire gut. This establishes that gut health relates to sexual health as its activity of happy mood also positively affects our libido.”

Can gut health issues affect sex life?

A healthy gut has an adequate secretion of serotonin. However, gut health depends upon the microbial flora, which helps in the secretion of serotonin. “Any inflammation of the gut disturbs the serotonin secretion and, thereby, the libido,” says Dr Kumavat. All the symptoms related to the gut can adversely affect a person’s physical, emotional, and sexual life.

gut and sex life
Your eating habits impact your gut health. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Ahead are 5 ways in which gut health affects your sex life:

1. Indigestion can lead to discomfort

According to Dr Kumavat, “If you’ve eaten a lot of food or are experiencing indigestion, the pain and discomfort can impact your sex life.” In fact, having irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), which causes constipation, diarrhoea, stomach cramps, and bloating, can make having sex painful and add emotional stress to the act of sexual activity. Additionally, having sex can make some people experience symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), such as heartburn and acid reflux, which can also make sex uncomfortable.

2. Indigestion can decrease serotonin levels

Serotonin is a neurotransmitter, or chemical messenger, that works in the brain to regulate and stabilise mood. The person feels less anxious and depressed thanks to this chemical, which makes sex more enjoyable. The serotonin system can be altered by irritable bowel syndrome, functional dyspepsia, nausea, and vomiting, which makes it harder to experience sexual pleasure.

Also, read: These are all the reasons you need to make lube your BFF during sex

3. You may develop UTI

Urinary tract infections (UTI) are quite common in people with digestive issues. Indigestion can promote bacterial growth that causes vaginal infection and, in severe cases, it can even lead to kidney issues if left untreated . Additionally, if you already have a UTI, you are more likely to develop digestive problems that could have an impact on your abdomen, particularly your lower abdomen. You might feel a lot of pressure and agony during sex because of everything.

gut and sex life
UTI can be spread through sex so treat it first. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

4. Gut microbiota can affect erectile function

Microbiologist Susan Erdman’s research suggests that a key component of sex may be the gut microbiota. According to Dr Kumavat, “The gut microbiota can control hormone levels, inflammatory mediators, and other aspects of male erectile function.” Because of this, preserving the proper balance of these bacteria is essential for sexual, mental, and physical health.

5. Gut issues can cause stress

“Stress concerning gastrointestinal issues may take the fun out of the most intimate scenarios and even impede attempts to conceive a child. Instead of producing serotonin, the body will feel stressed, secreting cortisol,” says Dr Kumavat.

Now you know that your gut health is crucial for your sex life. So try to keep digestive issues at bay by eating healthy and adding probiotics to your daily routine because it can help alleviate the physical symptoms of the gut, thereby improving mood and libido.



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