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Libido-Boosting Supplements for Women: Can They Help?

Libido is an important element of women's sexual health that contributes to sexual satisfaction and is associated with reduced stress and improved overall well-being. Introducing libido-boosting supplements for women into a daily routine may enhance drive and desire, leading to a more fulfilling sexual life.

Here, we review the potential effects, benefits, safety, and effectiveness of libido-boosting supplements and discuss the effects of their active ingredients.

What is libido?

Libido is a sexual desire and drive that encompasses sexual thoughts, fantasies, and behaviors. This term is most commonly attributed to the psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud. The level of libido in every woman is different and may change under the influence of biological, psychological, and social factors.

One common biological factor responsible for libido changes is the fluctuation of hormones such as estrogen, progesterone, cortisol, serotonin, and androgens. The level of these substances changes in the body during the menstrual cycle. Some women might experience an increased libido during their fertile days, just before ovulation, and during ovulation. The hormonal levels and, therefore, sexual drive might also change during pregnancy, postpartum, and menopause. Potential psychological and social factors that affect libido include stress, lifestyle, or relationship dynamics.

Libido plays an important role in women's sexual health as it contributes to sexual satisfaction and overall well-being. Sexual excitement increases blood supply to the genitals, causes swelling, and increases sensitivity to touch and lubrication in the vagina, which altogether improves the sexual experience. It is also relevant from a psychological perspective. Increased libido and enhanced sexual activity might improve relationship dynamics by fostering intimacy and bonding between partners. A healthy libido and good sex life might improve mood and reduce stress.

What causes a decrease in women's libido?

Women's libido can be decreased by both physical and psychological factors. Here are the most common causes:

1. Hormonal changes

Hormones play an important role in regulating women's sexual desire. Estrogen and testosterone are the ones that affect the libido the most, as do their fluctuation (increased or decreased). Estrogen helps to maintain vaginal lubrication and stimulates circulation. Testosterone is involved in the production of dopamine, which is a neurotransmitter associated with pleasure and desire.

The estrogen levels decline during perimenopause and menopause, which might reduce the desire for sexual intercourse. Pregnancy and postpartum are other periods when women experience important hormonal fluctuations affecting sexual desire. Hormones also fluctuate during the menstrual cycle. For instance, after ovulation, progesterone levels rise, which might reduce sexual desire as estrogen levels drop simultaneously.

2. Medical conditions and medication use

Certain medical conditions and drugs might result in libido changes. Thyroid disorders, such as Hashimoto (an autoimmune disorder affecting thyroid glands), might disrupt the hormonal balance, causing low libido. Certain antidepressant drugs, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), which are used for mood disorders, might affect neurotransmitters involved in sexual function, which might consequently lead to a decrease in sexual desire.

Women are often afraid that some hormonal contraceptives, such as pills, patches, and injections of IUDs, might lower libido. Even though some studies support this, it is important to mention that the research is not unambiguous, as the impact of hormonal contraception might vary among individuals, and some women might even experience heightened libido due to no longer being afraid of pregnancy.

3. Stress

It is an important psychological factor that might reduce libido in women. Prolonged stress might affect hormone levels in the body. It might lead to an increased production of cortisol, frequently called the ‘stress hormone,’ which is known to suppress the production of estrogen and testosterone, leading to a decrease in libido.

Stress also has a strong psychological aspect on women's sexual health. High levels of stress and burnout might lead to mood disorders, which would reduce sexual desire. It can also lead to overall physical fatigue, which might make sexual activity less appealing.

4. Lifestyle

Diet, exercise, and sleep might influence women's libido. A diet that does not provide sufficient micro and macronutrients might lead to deficiencies affecting sex hormone production. Exercise is known to improve blood flow, which is important for sexual arousal and response. The lack of exercise might also result in higher stress levels, which reduce sexual desire.

Sleep hygiene is important for maintaining the hormonal balance and for restoring the body. It also helps to reduce stress. Therefore, poor sleep might result in fatigue or irritability, which might negatively affect the libido.

What are libido-boosting supplements for women?

Libido-boosting supplements are dietary supplements designed to potentially stimulate sexual desire, arousal, and sexual function in women. They usually contain a mixture of amino acids, herbs, vitamins, minerals, and other ingredients that might have beneficial effects on women's sexual health.

These natural supplements aim to address various factors that might contribute to low libido, such as hormonal changes or fatigue. The effect of libido-boosting supplements might vary depending on the age or health condition of an individual. It is always recommended to consult with a healthcare provider to select supplements suitable for personal needs.

What can they help with?

Depending on the blend of ingredients, libido-boosting supplements might help to address certain factors and imbalances affecting women's sexual lives. It is worth mentioning that, unlike supplements for men, these do not offer immediate solutions (arousal or erection). With what exactly can these dietary supplements help?

  • Stimulate sexual desire. Certain supplements might help regulate hormonal balance by supporting the endocrine system.
  • Improve arousal. Ingredients such as L-arginine and ginkgo are known to potentially enhance blood flow. By stimulating circulation in the genital area, the supplements might help with sensitivity and pleasure perception.
  • Enhance energy. Guarana and ginseng may provide an energy boost, contributing to better sexual performance.
  • Reduce stress. Anxiety and stress are factors that might contribute to lower sexual drive. Taking adaptogens might lead to reduced anxiety and a more positive outlook on sexual life.
  • Supporting vaginal health. Certain ingredients can potentially help with lubrication and elasticity of vaginal tissue, making sexual activity more enjoyable.

Key ingredients in libido-boosting supplements

Libido-boosting dietary supplements often contain a variety of ingredients that are believed to enhance sexual desire and performance. Here, we take a closer look at five of the most commonly used:

1. L-arginine

This amino acid is a common ingredient of many libido-enhancing supplements. This is because it is a precursor of nitric oxide (NO), a molecule that stimulates circulation. L-arginine may have the potential for managing hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD) in women. One small double-blind study assessing a supplement containing this active ingredient has reported an enhancement of sexual desire and clitoral sensation, reduction of vaginal dryness, and frequency of sexual intercourse and orgasm after four weeks of supplementation. However, the results of small studies like this cannot be considered definite.

2. Maca root

It is derived from Lepidium meyenii, a Peruvian plant that grows in the central Andes at more than 4,000 m altitude. It has been used for centuries by Andean populations as an aphrodisiac that is believed to help with sexual function and fertility. Its potential libido-enhancing effects are attributed to the presence of compounds such as polyunsaturated fatty acids and alkaloids.

The potential effects of maca root have been extensively studied in animal models and clinical trials. Some studies suggest that this ingredient might help with regulating women's libido and sexual desire. However, many of the studies were either inconclusive or were performed using a small number of participants, and therefore, further studies are needed to claim the potential libido-enhancing effects of maca root.

3. Tribulus terrestris

Also known as puncturevine from the Zygophyllaceae family, it is a plant that can be found mostly growing in the Mediterranean, India, and Tibet. The aphrodisiac effects of this herbal remedy have been assessed in a number of animal and human experiments. For instance, one control trial with 64 premenopausal women with HSDD has reported improvements in desire, arousal, lubrication, satisfaction, and orgasm. Even though the study was small, the results sound promising.

4. Ginseng

It is an herbal remedy grown in Asia and the Americas and has been used for many years due to its potential anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. It might potentially help with stress management, energy increase, and libido improvement. The supplements containing ginseng have been subjected to clinical trials showing that digesting ginseng might improve sexual arousal and ameliorate desire in menopausal and premenopausal women.

5. Horny goat weed

Horny goat weed refers to a herb species of the Epimedium genus, which has been widely used in China as a potential enhancer of women's libido. The active ingredient of horny goat weed has been suggested to be icariin, which might increase nitric oxide levels and consequently stimulate blood flow. The scientific proof regarding the efficacy of horny goat weed is still very limited, and many things are still unknown about its safety.

Are such supplements effective for low women's libido?

The effectiveness of libido-boosting supplements, as with any other supplements, will be dictated by several factors, such as the specific ingredients, the health condition of an individual, and the cause of low libido.

Some studies support the effectiveness of certain ingredients in stimulating sexual desire, but not all results are conclusive. Research often assesses effectiveness in small numbers of participants, and outcomes frequently rely on subjective results (how participants feel) rather than biochemical markers. More studies are needed to fully support the claims of these supplements.

Discussing your sexual health needs with a professional might provide more guidance and a personalized approach when deciding if libido-boosting supplements are right for you.

How to use libido-boosting supplements for women?

If you are considering incorporating libido-boosting supplements into your daily routine, you can follow these six practices:

  • Consult with a healthcare provider. It is always good to discuss with your medical provider before starting a new supplement, as some of them might not be suitable for pregnant or breastfeeding women or women planning a pregnancy. This will help you ensure that it is safe and appropriate for your needs and expected outcomes.
  • Follow dosage recommendation. Check the dosage instructions on the label of the product to ensure that you are not exceeding the daily dose.
  • Stick to consistent timing. Establish a time during the day to take the supplement. Establishing a routine will help you remember to take your supplement and help your body adapt and maintain consistent levels of active ingredients.
  • Combine with a balanced diet. Supplements will be more effective with a balanced and healthy diet that provides appropriate levels of micro and macronutrients suitable to your health conditions. Remember to stay hydrated to enhance the effectiveness of the supplements.
  • Stay patient, realistic, and consistent. Many of the supplements will require regular dosage and timing before you see potential effects. The results may also vary from person to person.
  • Assure adequate storage. To ensure that your supplements maintain their efficacy, store them in a cool and dry place.

Side effects

Most of the studies investigating libido-boosting supplements or their ingredients do not include information about toxicology, safety, or potential side effects. Exceeding the daily dosage might lead to digestive issues, such as:

  • Nausea
  • Stomach cramps
  • Bloating
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation

In most cases, the effectiveness of libido-boosting supplements has not been asserted in pregnant women. Therefore, pregnant women and those planning a family should avoid using products containing these ingredients, and the use of these supplements should be discussed with a healthcare provider.

How to choose the best supplements for libido-boost

While selecting a libido-boosting supplement that is right for you, it is important to consider several criteria to ensure the product is safe and will bring the desired benefits. These are the criteria you should pay particular attention to:

  • Ingredients. The combination of ingredients might determine the product's safety and potential effectiveness. It is crucial that you check the composition of the libido-boosting supplement to ensure that none of the ingredients interacts with medicines or other supplements that you are currently taking.
  • Reputable provider. Opt for brands that are transparent about the composition of their products, sourcing, and manufacturing. Check if the brand adheres to good manufacturing practices and has other relevant certifications that would confirm the quality of the product.
  • Form and dosage. Choose the form of the supplement that suits you best. Supplements can be found in tablets, chewing gummies, powders, and others. To fully take advantage of supplement benefits, pay attention to the recommended dose.
  • Third-party tested. Check if your supplement was tested by an independent laboratory and has certificates of analysis. This can further confirm the product's good quality.

📝Healthnews editor's top picks

Selecting the right libido-boosting supplement might be challenging. Here, we have compared the formulations and potential effects of three common dietary supplements for women:

Bonafide Ristela
  • L-arginine and L-citrulline might improve blood flow and might potentially contribute to enhanced arousal and physical satisfaction
  • Rosehip might contribute to overall health and energy levels
  • French Maritime Pine Bark extract might exhibit antioxidative properties and stimulate blood circulation
FOCL Libido Gummies for Her comm block
  • Might help with alleviating symptoms of perimenopause and menopause, such as low energy levels, dull skin, or signs of hormonal changes
  • Fenugreek powder might help regulate hormones and potentially provide ease during menopause
  • Horny goat weed, pine bark extract, and guarana extract might help with increasing the libido
House of Wise Daily Libido Gummies
  • Might support healthy libido function and potentially boost energy and vitality.
  • Maca root extract might potentially help the body adapt to stress and maintain homeostasis.
  • Ginkgo biloba extract might help enhance cognitive and cardiovascular health.

Further information

Navigating the world of women's libido might be complex. Here, we have selected five recent scientific publications for those searching for more information on the topic:

  • This article by the International Journal of Reproductive Biomedicine provides a meta-analysis of 18 clinical trials evaluating the effects of herbal ingredients on sexual health. The analysis suggests that herbal plants that mimic the effects of estrogen might be beneficial for menopausal women.
  • This review by the Journal of Herbmed Pharmacology describes herbs and ingredients with potential libido-enhancing effects for menopausal women. The comparison between various plants suggests that, among others, ginseng, fennel, and red clover might have a great effect on improving the sex function of menopausal women.
  • This work by Phytomedicine: International Journal of Phytotherapy and Phytopharmacology analyses 20 studies evaluating the effects of natural products on female sexual dysfunction. The analysis suggests that Tribulus terrestris and ginseng may be effective for FSD management in a clinical setting.
  • This article by Sexual Medicine Reviews provides information regarding the effectiveness of various treatments for FSD. The work suggests that treatment selection is not straightforward and depends on what symptoms of FSD we aim to target.
  • This work by the Benha Journal of Applied Sciences analyses the link between diet and sexual performance. According to this work, food is not a remedy for sexual dysfunction, but it might be used to enhance sexual desire.

While starting your journey of boosting your libido, it is important to take a holistic approach. Start by introducing changes to your lifestyle, such as a healthy diet, regular exercise, or mental health practices like medication. This will help you to reduce potential stressors and restore the balance of the body.

To address low libido caused by hormonal changes or medication use, consult with a professional who might provide guidance. You might consider incorporating libido-boosting supplements into your daily routine, which may potentially improve your sexual health and well-being.

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