2

votes

Fish oil lowers libido - suggested mechanisms?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created October 01, 2011 at 2:27 AM

i've attempted numerous experiments with taking fish oil / otherwise upping my omega 3 intake, and almost without fail i've noticed a (dose-dependent) flatlining of my libido (i'm male) as a result. i did some digging around on the interwebs and apparently a number of other men have noticed this same effect:

http://tnation.t-nation.com/free_online_forum/diet_performance_nutrition_supplements/fish_oil_and_the_male_libido?id=660612&pageNo=0

http://www.mindandmuscle.net/forum/24803-fish-oil-vs-libido

the flatlining is always temporary, and always lifts after a few days of discontinuing the fish oil. i suspect that eating a lot of fatty fish has the same effect for me, though that's hard a little harder to track since i don't eat it very often. i feel otherwise good on fish oil--in some ways better than usual--and i'm young and otherwise very fit / healthy / eat paleo.

this doesn't appear to be a common effect (it seems like most people, men included, notice an increased libido, if they notice any effect at all), but judging from what i've been able to dredge up it doesn't seem entirely UNcommon, either. so my question is: assuming this phenomenon is real, what POSSIBLE hormonal / endocrine mechanism could account for this effect?

7e13e284a1bafd7b4de14a50ee96140c

(322)

on November 15, 2013
at 06:38 AM

Hi, how would i know if the fish oil I'm buying is concentrated or not? any particular brands you suggest except nordic naturals because its pretty $$$

72cf727474b8bf815fdc505e58cadfea

on May 14, 2013
at 04:12 AM

Serotonin may be related to stress peripherally, but I've never heard anyone suggest that it has stress-related effects in the brain (and I believe those two are fairly compartmentalized, since it doesn't cross the blood-brain barrier). Do you have a source for the stress hormone claim?

0dbd7154d909b97fe774d1655754f195

(16131)

on October 09, 2011
at 02:36 AM

i wish u love love and love.... hej every body. how are u going? this fishing lines are so new and complicated can so easy to catch fish too easy. but also hard. killed the fish with the hand still love my fish skinn him. still love u all and my fish. love u all girls and girls hope u throw some herbs for me in the wind. for heling healing healing and love

7e746be2f0e550a8cd7df881322ae705

(18701)

on October 02, 2011
at 02:10 AM

@majikenetor, I react differently to a lot of medication. Things that make people sleep, keep me awake most of the time too.

D7895ca13411685b65dd8f20e1414cb6

on October 01, 2011
at 07:04 PM

i actually have noticed that before, yes. when i've taken it i've made sure to take it in the morning for that reason.

Medium avatar

(2169)

on October 01, 2011
at 07:03 PM

do you get insomnia from it too? I can't take it because it keeps me from being able to sleep

D7895ca13411685b65dd8f20e1414cb6

on October 01, 2011
at 04:47 PM

from what i've seen most people aren't affected either way--my reaction seems to be something of an outlier.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on October 01, 2011
at 03:20 PM

That is strange - it helps bipolar disorders a lot for instance.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on October 01, 2011
at 03:19 PM

Nice report. Thx doc.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on October 01, 2011
at 03:16 PM

I didn't know this, nice info. He should up Zinc to 50mg per day. It does boots libido. Piracetam/Hydergine/Choline combination does that too, pretty strong in my opinion and some friends of mine.

D7895ca13411685b65dd8f20e1414cb6

on October 01, 2011
at 06:19 AM

this also makes me wonder whether epa or dha is more problematic in this regard. i seem to recall epa specifically being linked with anti-depressive effects, rather than dha.

Medium avatar

(39831)

on October 01, 2011
at 05:16 AM

Yeah, that was a typo that I corrected to n-3. Regarding fish oil, this may also interest you: http://paleohacks.com/questions/66467/do-fish-oil-megadoses-increase-the-risk-of-heart-disease#axzz1ZVFzSdPC

D7895ca13411685b65dd8f20e1414cb6

on October 01, 2011
at 05:10 AM

oh, just read the last part of your post--i agree, definitely something to keep in mind.

D7895ca13411685b65dd8f20e1414cb6

on October 01, 2011
at 05:05 AM

whoah. this would make quite the splash on the bodybuilding boards (cw seems to be that n-3 is good for test). also does n-r mean either n-6 or n-3? i can't say i've ever noticed this effect with n-6--it seems specifically tied to n-3.

D7895ca13411685b65dd8f20e1414cb6

on October 01, 2011
at 04:46 AM

helpful links nonetheless!

0dbd7154d909b97fe774d1655754f195

(16131)

on October 01, 2011
at 04:37 AM

Ooops - I see that you mentioned this in your comments. Well, I'll let it stand. I don't take Fish Oil myself. Waaaay to fragile of an oil.

D7895ca13411685b65dd8f20e1414cb6

on October 01, 2011
at 03:38 AM

my mood is generally better on it (in some ways), minus the libido thing. some people on those boards suggest it has a dose-dependent ssri/prozac-type effect, which might suggest one explanation for the libido effect.

D7895ca13411685b65dd8f20e1414cb6

on October 01, 2011
at 03:32 AM

From what I've been able to dig up, it only seems to have any (libido) effect on men, but then again most of the material is coming from bodybuilding sites. The prostaglandin link is interesting; one or two people on those bodybuilding boards also suggested that. I don't know the first thing about prostaglandins, but room for individual variation seems to be key, given that reactions appear to run the gamut.

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10 Answers

4
Medium avatar

on October 01, 2011
at 04:54 AM

Here ya go.

Intakes of eicosapentanoic [EPA] and docosahexaenoic [DHA] acids, n-3 fatty acids from fish, were significantly inversely correlated with total testosterone.

Suggested mechanism:

High intake of n-3 fatty acids has been reported to reduce testosterone synthesis by altering the lipid composition of rat testicular plasma membranes.

This would be more of a long-term phenomenon that likely wouldn't resolve as rapidly as you describe, but it's nevertheless something to keep in mind.

Medium avatar

(39831)

on October 01, 2011
at 05:16 AM

Yeah, that was a typo that I corrected to n-3. Regarding fish oil, this may also interest you: http://paleohacks.com/questions/66467/do-fish-oil-megadoses-increase-the-risk-of-heart-disease#axzz1ZVFzSdPC

D7895ca13411685b65dd8f20e1414cb6

on October 01, 2011
at 05:05 AM

whoah. this would make quite the splash on the bodybuilding boards (cw seems to be that n-3 is good for test). also does n-r mean either n-6 or n-3? i can't say i've ever noticed this effect with n-6--it seems specifically tied to n-3.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on October 01, 2011
at 03:16 PM

I didn't know this, nice info. He should up Zinc to 50mg per day. It does boots libido. Piracetam/Hydergine/Choline combination does that too, pretty strong in my opinion and some friends of mine.

D7895ca13411685b65dd8f20e1414cb6

on October 01, 2011
at 05:10 AM

oh, just read the last part of your post--i agree, definitely something to keep in mind.

4
0dbd7154d909b97fe774d1655754f195

(16131)

on October 01, 2011
at 04:36 AM

http://www.functionalps.com/blog/?p=2559

http://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/200210/sex-what-problem

http://marjorie-mcatee.suite101.com/treat-depression-with-fish-oil-a209581

The above links say three things: First that high serotonin in the brain is known to have libido lowering effects. Second, this can be seen in people on SSRIs who complain about low libido - their brains are flooded with the stuff. Three, Omega 3s can elevate serotonin in the brain.

Serotonin is actually a stress hormone. Like cortisol it is released to deal with excess stress in acute bursts. When elevated for too long it can have adverse effects, perhaps even lowering libido.

D7895ca13411685b65dd8f20e1414cb6

on October 01, 2011
at 04:46 AM

helpful links nonetheless!

D7895ca13411685b65dd8f20e1414cb6

on October 01, 2011
at 06:19 AM

this also makes me wonder whether epa or dha is more problematic in this regard. i seem to recall epa specifically being linked with anti-depressive effects, rather than dha.

0dbd7154d909b97fe774d1655754f195

(16131)

on October 01, 2011
at 04:37 AM

Ooops - I see that you mentioned this in your comments. Well, I'll let it stand. I don't take Fish Oil myself. Waaaay to fragile of an oil.

72cf727474b8bf815fdc505e58cadfea

on May 14, 2013
at 04:12 AM

Serotonin may be related to stress peripherally, but I've never heard anyone suggest that it has stress-related effects in the brain (and I believe those two are fairly compartmentalized, since it doesn't cross the blood-brain barrier). Do you have a source for the stress hormone claim?

3
9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad

on October 01, 2011
at 03:16 AM

That's interesting. The Orgasmic Diet is written by a women and suggests lots of fish oil. I've personally never experienced an effect on way or another. Perhaps it is interrupting your prostaglandin system similar to what aspirin does (aspirin and fish oil lower prostaglandins)? Prostaglandins are extremely complex and affected by so many things and so much individual variation, which probably accounts for the fact that some people would have libido issues and others wouldn't.

D7895ca13411685b65dd8f20e1414cb6

on October 01, 2011
at 03:32 AM

From what I've been able to dig up, it only seems to have any (libido) effect on men, but then again most of the material is coming from bodybuilding sites. The prostaglandin link is interesting; one or two people on those bodybuilding boards also suggested that. I don't know the first thing about prostaglandins, but room for individual variation seems to be key, given that reactions appear to run the gamut.

2
417ac0e162dc468b8ca61a574e5cd3c0

on October 01, 2011
at 06:01 AM

I can not proffer a mechanism. But I am going to guess that you use concentrated fish oil. Everyone knows that there is variability in quality and effect among various brands of fish oil. But what many don't realize, in my opinion, is that there is a notable difference between concentrated and non-concentrated fish oil. In my wellness-based chiropractic practice for years, we used a highly-respected, so-called "pharmaceutical-grade" CONCENTRATED fish oil as part of a wellness-based nutritional protocol. While most patients had straight-forward, positive results (including BTW increased libido, a very common "collateral benefit"), every now and then (like 1 in 7) weird side-effects were reported. 5 years ago, we started using a high-quality, NON-concentrated version and there have been ZERO reports of weird side-effects, in hundreds of patients over 5 years. Additionally, very very few patients burp the non-concentrated fish oil. If you have been using a concentrated fish oil, you might try a high-quality non-concentrated fish oil. Lastly, if you can take the liquid, choose that over gel caps. There are still some sleazy manufacturers who put a form of pthalate in the gel cap. About 5 years ago , I read a label from a costco-bought fish oil that had pthlate disclosed on the label as a component in the gelcap (I believe they have discontinued this, but I don't bother keeping up with retail supplements anymore as I am convinced most are rubbish). Good luck.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on October 01, 2011
at 03:19 PM

Nice report. Thx doc.

7e13e284a1bafd7b4de14a50ee96140c

(322)

on November 15, 2013
at 06:38 AM

Hi, how would i know if the fish oil I'm buying is concentrated or not? any particular brands you suggest except nordic naturals because its pretty $$$

1
7e746be2f0e550a8cd7df881322ae705

on October 01, 2011
at 03:22 AM

Fish oil makes me bitchy. I've tried several brands, taking it in the morning or in the evening. It's weird, but my body doesn't like it, at all.

D7895ca13411685b65dd8f20e1414cb6

on October 01, 2011
at 03:38 AM

my mood is generally better on it (in some ways), minus the libido thing. some people on those boards suggest it has a dose-dependent ssri/prozac-type effect, which might suggest one explanation for the libido effect.

7e746be2f0e550a8cd7df881322ae705

(18701)

on October 02, 2011
at 02:10 AM

@majikenetor, I react differently to a lot of medication. Things that make people sleep, keep me awake most of the time too.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on October 01, 2011
at 03:20 PM

That is strange - it helps bipolar disorders a lot for instance.

0dbd7154d909b97fe774d1655754f195

(16131)

on October 09, 2011
at 02:36 AM

i wish u love love and love.... hej every body. how are u going? this fishing lines are so new and complicated can so easy to catch fish too easy. but also hard. killed the fish with the hand still love my fish skinn him. still love u all and my fish. love u all girls and girls hope u throw some herbs for me in the wind. for heling healing healing and love

0
759f8f9c1ab2c552ee7be8605998eb19

on February 11, 2014
at 05:29 PM

The following is my personal theory on the whole mystery behind why meds/supplements that have antidepressive effects actually tend to lower one's sex drive: You see, we as humans are civilized, emotional, rational, logically-driven, and overall pretty "tame" beings...in fact we are waaay more tame than any other animal on this planet (although considering what's going on with the younger part of western population lately that statement seriously becomes questionable :D). So, what happens when depressed, nervous and stressed people take antidepressants? They become more calm, collected, tame, think clearer, use the rational part of our brains much more and use way less of that instinct-driven, animal-like part of it. Doesn't that tell you something? Do you see the pattern? Yep from super lustful instinct driven males, that we tend to be like in this day and age of multiple stressors constantly running in our background, erotic websites and easy access to any kind of sexual content out there, we actually get somewhat back to normal, we calm down and so no kind of need for a release is needed much really, and we are much less sexual and more monogamous oriented. So I just don't understand why people are so confused by this...and actually the fact that depression and anxiety lowers one sex drive always confused me, as I personally was always quite opposite. Conclusion - If it has antidepressive effects yet it decreases libido in a normal, painless way, to me that smells like that's actually GOOD and the way we humans are supposed to be like and what we certainly would be like by default if we were to be depraved of this stressful time of today where we have to worry about soooo many little things constantly, instead of worrying about one big thing (a mammoth chasing us :D) but only from time to time. I guess there's no better "quick fix" and distraction from all that mess in one's mind than masturbation/sex. I mean come on, think logically, we are certainly not made to make children every freaking day multiple times :) So yep, that was my honest opinion on this, and I personally think that all these loony theories of "high sex drive being a sign of health" or "having sex and masturbating every day promotes health bla bla" are nothing but a bunch of commercials for libido enhancing products, supplements and are pushed on us by the media which is secretly influenced by the biggest industry in the world - the porn industry.

0
8ce8b8fd33944e67dfd6277e7b671815

(327)

on May 14, 2013
at 03:33 AM

some people can eat like crap and have 800 t, T can be affected by social interactions as well as diet. But i've had higher t with eating more saturated fats as well as eating fish, I try to keep things even keel.

0
3f6288efc00d3a80ed4f153d0b86cbe7

on September 14, 2012
at 07:13 PM

You might try omega-6 instead. Possible clues:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16600514

0
593480c4b419c67aefff3193e223e8a7

(0)

on April 13, 2012
at 06:26 AM

Actually my observation is that good quality omega 3 fatty acids in does of 1 Gm per day elevates libido.

0
Medium avatar

on October 01, 2011
at 03:12 PM

Is it possible for some guys to not be impacted by fish oil? My boyfriend takes TONS of fish oil. He starting taking lots of it this summer, and continues to take it now. He works out 5-6 days a week- HIIT and weight lifting, and there is no change in his very high libido. He's 27 and eats high fat low carb paleo.

D7895ca13411685b65dd8f20e1414cb6

on October 01, 2011
at 07:04 PM

i actually have noticed that before, yes. when i've taken it i've made sure to take it in the morning for that reason.

D7895ca13411685b65dd8f20e1414cb6

on October 01, 2011
at 04:47 PM

from what i've seen most people aren't affected either way--my reaction seems to be something of an outlier.

Medium avatar

(2169)

on October 01, 2011
at 07:03 PM

do you get insomnia from it too? I can't take it because it keeps me from being able to sleep

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