Changes in your sex drive are normal, but it can be alarming. Here are six supplements that can help naturally boost your libido.
Whether it comes on suddenly or gradually decreases over time, loss of interest in sex opens up questions and concerns about whether something else could be wrong.
Sexual desire can change on a short-term basis due to a number of factors, including fatigue, seasons, and hormones. If your desire seems to disappear for a longer stretch, however, there could be an underlying health condition that needs addressing.
Struggling to lose weight? Unable to focus? Chances are, your hormones are out of whack.
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The good news is that there are common causes of low sex drive, and easy, natural solutions.
Common Causes of Low Libido
Both men and women can experience a decrease in sex drive. While there are some common overlapping causes, there are others that are unique to each sex.
Not all of these causes can be addressed by natural methods, and many might require a visit to your doctor to verify underlying causes. While it can feel difficult to discuss sex drive with your physician, libido is just another gauge of overall physical health and well-being.
For Both Men and Women:
Low testosterone: Essential for regulating several men’s health factors, testosterone is required for sex drive. Testosterone is also required in smaller amounts in women, and it naturally decreases with age for both sexes. (1)
Depression: Whether you take medication for it or not, depression can lower libido. (3)
Drinking too much: Imbibing too much or too often requires your liver to work harder, taking away from its other task of metabolizing hormones. As a result, regularly drinking alcohol can suppress sex hormones and libido. (4, 5)
Drug use: Tobacco, marijuana, and other forms of drugs all have a suppressing effect on sex drive. (7)
For Just Women:
Birth control: Taking hormonal birth control can deplete certain nutrients and alter sex hormone levels, leading to a decreased sex drive. (8)
Vaginal dryness: Women can experience vaginal dryness for many reasons, but it naturally worsens with age, making sex more painful and less comfortable, which could impact desire. (9)
For Just Men:
Restless Legs Syndrome: Research shows that men who have RLS, the condition where your legs seemingly cannot stop moving, are more likely to develop erectile dysfunction. (11)
Sleep apnea: Sleep apnea leads to excessive tiredness, when not treated, that can result in low libido. One study found that men with sleep apnea, regardless of weight, had lower levels of testosterone. (12)
6 Supplements to Naturally Boost Libido
While supplements won’t fix all types of libido problems, they can help with a few key factors like chronic health problems, depression, and stress management.
Supplements can be potent enough to have interactions with medications and even other supplements, so be sure to check with your doctor before either stopping medications or starting supplements.
1. Vitamin D
To supplement, you need to take the D3 form, which is the closest to the form that is created when your skin is exposed to sunlight. Recommended dosages are dependent on your levels, so get a blood test from your doctor to determine the dose that’s right for you.
You can also get vitamin D from some foods like salmon, mackerel, and beef liver, but it won’t be enough to meet your daily needs.
Many people are low in selenium, a potent antioxidant. Selenium helps the thyroid produce the right level of hormones and it also boosts serotonin in the body, which helps curb feelings of low mood or depression. (15)
Brazil nuts are the best source of selenium, and other good sources include ham, pork, beef, turkey, and chicken.
To supplement with selenium, follow the recommended dosage on your supplement or take it as part of a multivitamin.
Iron is a vital mineral in the body that is needed to ensure that the blood carries enough oxygen to cells. Iron deficiency is a common problem worldwide, especially for women. When it occurs, symptoms include fatigue, feeling short of breath, and depression. None of these are conducive to a healthy sex drive, and as it turns out, anemia is a major factor in sexual dysfunction. (16)
Your doctor should test your iron and ferritin (the storage form of iron) levels to ensure you’re balanced before starting a supplement. Men rarely need an iron supplement unless another underlying cause is triggering anemia. Regardless, minerals from supplements can become toxic if over-supplemented, so check with your doctor on dose and form.
Foods that are rich in iron include grass-fed beef and liver, spinach and other leafy greens, and beets.
An herb common in India and Ayurvedic medicine, fenugreek has a wide variety of uses. Research shows that fenugreek can help to potentially increase testosterone levels and that it can boost libido in men. (17)
Fenugreek is safe for men and women to take, but as with most supplements, shouldn’t be taken if you’re pregnant or could become pregnant.
Lycopene is a potent antioxidant that helps relax blood vessels and promotes heart health. Research also shows that lycopene might have a similar effect to Viagra, without the typical side effects of prescription drugs. (18)
You can get lycopene in supplement form, and find this nutrient in watermelon and tomatoes.
Magnesium is often associated with relaxation, but this mineral can also free up testosterone for circulation in the bloodstream, increasing available levels. Both men and women need adequate levels of free testosterone in order to establish a healthy sex drive. (19)
You can find magnesium in most multivitamins, or you can take magnesium citrate for better absorption and bioavailability. Food sources of magnesium include spinach, dark chocolate, almonds, and avocado.
Your libido will naturally fluctuate according to life’s patterns. Stress, poor sleep, drinking too much, and even seasonal changes can impact desire in the short-term. If it becomes a pattern, try getting more of the above nutrients to naturally boost your sex drive.
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