How SHBG Levels Affect Sexual Drive

High SHBG levels are often overlooked with low sexual drive and overall health. Learn how to fix it naturally.

What is SHBG?

SHBG is the short-term for sex hormone binding globulin. It is a protein made primarily in the liver and acts as a master regulator for sex hormone levels by maintaining the proper balance for testosterone and estrogen in both men and women. The harmony amongst these hormones are critical for overall health, especially in individuals who are aging.

Though SHBG was once thought to play a role only in sexual drive, it actually performs other roles within the body. It transmits signals to the heart, brain, and adipose (fat) tissue to safeguard optimal functions. SHBG also has a special receptor molecule that help cells communicate with one another. Therefore, it also acts much like a hormone itself.

By knowing your SHBG levels, along with your testosterone and estrogen levels, you will develop a more precise picture of your overall health. This enables you to take preventative measures in case there is a hormone imbalance that you are at greater risk for.

Why is SHBG an Overlooked Threat to Sexual Health?

Libido is largely influenced by the sex hormones, testosterone and estrogen. For both men and women, testosterone is the most influential with regard to sexual drive. However, studies show that total testosterone levels have little to do with libido. Instead, what leads sexual drive is free testosterone, the percentage of testosterone that isn’t chemically bound to SHBG, as well as the ratio between testosterone and a type of estrogen called estradiol.

As the body ages, SHBG levels may rise steadily and bind up free testosterone. What is bound up is unfortunately not available for use. If SHBG is high and free testosterone is low, there is less testosterone for use. Free testosterone is important as it promotes sexual and overall health. Unfortunately, conventional medicine overlooks SHBG levels.

What Leads to High SHBG Levels?

Many health conditions can cause high SHBG levels. The causes are different in both men and women.

Causes for High SHBG Levels in Men

  • Elevated estradiol levels from testosterone conversion
  • Aging
  • Testicular cancer
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Extreme weight loss
  • Eating disorder
  • Liver cirrhosis
  • Inability to detoxify (i.e., alcohol, heavy metals, and estrogrens)
  • Pharmaceutical medications (i.e., Dilantin)
  • Cigarette smoking

Causes for High SHBG Levels in Women

Elevated estradiol levels over normal

  • Increased conversion of testosterone to estrogen
  • Stress with elevated cortisol
  • Aging
  • Pregnancy
  • Birth control pills
  • Fibrocystic breast disease
  • Phytoestrogens
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Extreme weight loss
  • Eating disorder
  • Liver cirrhosis
  • Inability to detoxify (i.e., alcohol, heavy metals, and estrogens)
  • Pharmaceutical medications (i.e., Dilantin)
  • Cigarette smoking

Should I have SHBG Levels Tested for a Low Sexual Drive?

While SHBG levels naturally decline with age, it does decrease more rapidly in men than women. When hormone production by the ovaries have tapered in post-menopausal women, a decrease in SHBG, testosterone, and estrogen concentrations will be experienced. However, any sexual dysfunction or very low sexual drive is not normal. You may ask your healthcare provider to perform an SHBG blood test along with other hormone tests (total testosterone, free testosterone, and estradiol).

How Do I Treat High SHBG Levels Naturally?

Conventional practitioners may want to place someone with high SHBG or other abnormal sex hormones on hormone therapy. However, natural ways to lower SHBG levels, raise free testosterone levels, and lower estradiol levels can be helpful. Be sure to include a wholesome diet and moderate exercise to keep your hormones running smoothly. Restorative sleep and stress management are also important. The following supplements may also help level off your hormones naturally.

Supplements to Lower SHBG & Raise Free Testosterone

Pure Encapsulations® Magnesium Glycinate Liquid

Pure Encapsulations® Zinc 30

Nordic® Naturals Vitamin D3 5000 Soft Gels

Supplements to Lower Estradiol Levels

Gaia® Herbs Professional Solutions Curcuma NF-kB Turmeric Supreme Liquid Phyto Caps

Gaia® Herbs Professional Solutions Resveratrol 150 Liquid Phyto Caps


Sexual drive is a normal and healthy part of living. If your SHBG levels are high, free testosterone will be low and can cause dysfunction in sexual and overall health. An SHBG test is useful for detecting any abnormalities. Diet, supplements, exercise, and other healthy lifestyle habits will reduce stress which is often a cause of abnormal SHBG levels that affect sexual drive.