How Vitamin D Affects Sexual Health
We all probably know by now how important Vitamin D is for immunity and disease prevention, but not many of us know how integral it is to sexual health.
In fact, Vitamin D affects everything from reproductive hormones and fertility outcomes to the vaginal microbiome and erectile dysfunction. Interested? Read on.
Vitamin D and the Vagina
The vagina has its own ecosystem of microbes that protect against infection, influence fertility, and maintain overall vaginal and urinary health. How does Vitamin D play a role? Studies have shown bacterial vaginosis, the most common vaginal infection in women of reproductive age, is associated with Vitamin D deficiency. In addition, Vitamin D is also important for maintaining the mucosal membrane of the vaginal wall, which contributes to the health of vaginal tissue, prevents atrophy in menopause, and maintains lubrication.
Vitamin D and Erectile Dysfunction (ED)
Erectile dysfunction can be a symptom of many different things. Low testosterone, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, chronic stress, smoking, and alcohol use can all be contributing factors, and whilst there’s no magic bullet for curing ED, there is a significant association between low Vitamin D levels and ED. In fact, a placebo-controlled randomized trial following non-diabetic Vitamin D deficient men, showed a significant increase in free testosterone levels in the supplemented group vs the control group.
Vitamin D, Hormones, and Fertility
Essential for maintaining sex hormones in both men and women, healthy Vitamin D levels are a must-have for any individual trying to conceive. It is currently recommended throughout pregnancy and whilst breastfeeding, but it also appears to be essential in the preconception phase – deficiency is a risk marker for reduced fertility and more adverse pregnancy outcomes.
Where to Get It + How to Take It.
Most foods are poor sources of Vitamin D, with low-fat vegetarian diets particularly at risk, which is why from September to March, the NHS advises that adults take a Vitamin D supplement. Vitamin D is fat-soluble, which means that there needs to be fat present in the gut for it to be properly absorbed. If you’re not great at sticking to a supplement schedule then don’t worry, it isn’t entirely black and white - some Vitamin D can be absorbed without fat; however, absorption will generally be best when taken alongside a meal that includes dietary fat. We recommend taking it in the evening with or after dinner for best absorption.