Sexologist Laura Miano breaks down the link between cycles and libido

  • Period Education Hub
  • November 24, 2021

Melbourne-based Sexologist, Laura Miano knows how to talk about sex and is saving sex lives on the daily. That’s why she’s here on our TOM Organic blog. We had so many questions for her: how did you fall into Sexology as a career? Are period cycles and libido linked? What are your tips for boosting sex drive? What period products do you use? Plus, many more.

ON HER CAREER PATH AND STARTING A NEW BUSINESS

“From a young age I always had an interest in sex. I watched a lot of erotic films, and I think that’s where my love of the creative side of sex came from. I used to listen to a lot of hip-hop music when I was around fourteen which was very sexual. In my household growing up, sex was never something to be shameful about.

During my [undergraduate] Psychology degree, I just decided to keep going and get my masters in Sexology – and I completed that last year. I’m also setting up a sex toy concept store called Posmos (opening very soon), that’s keeping me very busy at the moment.

I actually have a creative side to me and also this science geek side to me as well so it was great getting into Sexology and applying that skill. With Posmo, I feel like I’m tapping into everything now: I’m able to work with sex, and sexual things in a really creative way.”

ON THE IMPORTANCE OF SEXUAL HEALTH TO OUR OVERALL HEALTH

“One of our fundamental human needs is to have a fulfilling sex life. I think it has been overlooked for so long. It’s just as important as what you eat, how much water you drink, or how much sleep you get. A healthy sex life is just so important to your overall wellbeing.

And a ‘healthy’ sex life is very individual. It will look different to everyone. It will depend on everyone’s lifestyle concerns but if you’re happy with how you’re living your sex life, then that’s the most important thing.”

ON WHAT HAPPENS DURING ONE OF HER SEX THERAPY SESSIONS

“It can be either face-to-face, online, or on the phone. It always starts with me letting them know that it’s a really safe space and they can work at their own pace. For example, they don’t need to open up about everything straight away. They can even email me things if they would prefer. I also let them know that the language around sex can be the more colloquial terms that exists because I don’t expect everyone to know how to talk about sex in a clinical way.

Then we will go into what their presenting issue is, how long it’s been there for and we’ll really analyse everything in their life that might impact that issue.

It depends, but quite often I will do a detailed sexual history. And that might happen in session two or three. Where we really go back to when they first understood the concept of sex. When they first touched themselves. When they went through puberty. It’s such an interesting session and I love it. I learn something new every time. From there, we put the little puzzle pieces together because people don’t realise how significant the smallest things are. For example, their parents changing the channel when there’s a movie on with a sex scene. Depending on what their issue is, we will go through treatment and I might give them homework and resources. I might get their partner to come in and so forth.”

ON THE STAGES OF OUR MENSTRUATION CYCLE AND THEIR LINKS TO LIBIDO

“There have been many studies around this and studies have found there to be some small-to-moderate changes in libido during each phase of your menstruation cycle: the follicular, ovulation, and luteal.

The follicular phase starts when you have your period and ends with ovulation. At that point you have low levels of Oestrogen and Progesterone. Then around the mid-follicular phase, around when your period ends, your Oestrogen levels start rising. In a nutshell: Oestrogen helps your libido and Progesterone doesn’t.

Oestrogen levels peak at Ovulation and that’s when you’ll find your libido goes up. It makes sense, right? It’s evolution and adaptive! The sole function of our species is to prosper the species. So, if you become hornier when you’re ovulating and make a baby then that helps to continue the species!

There are a few studies around this — and it might not be the same for everyone — some people can find orgasms more pleasurable around ovulation time when Oestrogen is highest. Vasocongestion –which is when the genitals swell and become engorged– that can happen more so around the time of ovulation too. Basically, you naturally feel more aroused physiologically.

After that, it’s the luteal phase. Progesterone increases a lot, and this is when libido will go down. That’s also the time when PMS symptoms can happen, so that’s two major things working against you, and you’re probably less interested in having sex. Depending on whether the egg was fertilised during ovulation, Progesterone will increase, and libido will continue to be low. Or if it wasn’t fertilised, then Progesterone will start decreasing and you will get your period again. The reason why some people find that they get hornier on their periods is because the Progesterone has started to decrease.

These changes probably won’t happen to people on hormone contraceptives because their Oestrogen and Progesterone levels will be different. Plus, there are a million other factors to consider as well: lifestyle, stress, how long you’ve been in a relationship etc!”

ON HER TOP TIPS FOR BOOSTING YOUR MOOD FOR SEX

“Capitalise on your cycle! If you can have sex at the time when your Oestrogen is highest then definitely capitalise on that.

Destress is a big one. If you have a lot going on, try and make sure you spend time doing some self-care where you feel connected to yourself and your body. Because Cortisone (stress hormone) is the roadblock to arousal.

Lifestyle factors can impact your sex drive too. Things such as getting enough sleep, drinking enough water, eating good food, and looking after your mental health.

Be fluid in your approach to sex. It doesn’t have to be intercourse and orgasm. It can just be climbing on top of your partner while you’re watching a movie and pashing them for ten minutes. You can redefine what sex is.

Bring sex into your everyday life. I like the idea of sex toys that you can use on the go. For example, something that you control from your phone while you’re shopping. It’s about bringing a bit of frisky fun.

I think it’s also important to change things up. It could be new lingerie, or a new toy. Anything that makes you feel really excited is always going to help.”

ON SITES AND RESOURCES TO HELP INSPIRE US IN THE BEDROOM

“I would suggest the app Kama. It’s really beautiful to explore and touches on so many different things such as sexual positions and information around sexual health. I also like Bellesa, which is a feminist site with visual porn, audio porn and erotic stories. We can’t take everything we watch in porn as reality, but it is a way to see things happening and see some sexual positions to help inspire. Another one is Ferly which helps you navigate mindful sex.

Labia Library is another helpful website for general sexual health information. There’s a page where you can look at real vulvas which can help people normalise what theirs looks like, which has been really helpful for some of my clients.”

ON HER PERIOD AND THE TOM ORGANIC PRODUCTS SHE SWEARS BY

“My period is pretty heavy on the first day, then the second day becomes a little lighter and then day three-to-six becomes super-light. I use period briefs for the whole period. I use both the mid-rise and bikini styles. I’m super-happy with those and I’m recommending them to everyone I talk to. I love them so much. If I’m going out and wearing a G-string then I’ll swap them out for the period cup or the regular tampons.”