Lack of lack of libido is more common in women than men, but it significantly affects both sexes. Research shows that 32 percent of women and 15 percent of men lack the desire to have sex regularly. (1) Whether you’re on the lower or higher end of the age spectrum, a low libido can strike at any year of your life for a whole variety of reasons, including depression, stress, relationship issues, prescription medications, low testosterone, being overweight, too little exercise, and drug or alcohol use. (2) So naturally, many people wonder how to increase libido.
If you have little to no sex drive, you’re definitely not alone. The great news is that there are a lot of natural remedies to increase libido, and you can start increasing your sex drive naturally today. If a higher sex drive is your goal, then it’s time to make some lifestyle changes. For instance, decreasing your stress levels, improving your sleep, adding more natural aphrodisiacs to your meals, and exercising the right amount to put your mind and body back into a libido-encouraging state are all techniques for how to increase libido without potentially harmful drugs.
What Is Libido? Why Does It Disappear Among Some of Us?
Libido is defined as a person’s overall sexual drive or desire for sexual activity. Low libido in women and low libido in men have some similar roots, along with some gender-specific ones as well.
For men, it’s actually quite normal to have a gradual decrease in libido as a man gets older. Each man is different, but most men tend to have some amount of sexual desire into their 60s and 70s. If aging isn’t at the root of libido decrease, a man may be depressed or experiencing too much stress. Other possible causes of low sex drive men are a medication side effect, a decrease in male sex hormones due to an endocrine disorder or sleep apnea. A little-known fact is how sleep apnea can lead to an unusually low testosterone level. (3)
Low testosterone can also cause erectile dysfunction (ED), a condition in which a man can’t get or maintain an erection. While both issues may involve low testosterone, ED and low libido do not necessarily equate or even happen at the same time. Men who have a hard time getting or maintaining an erection usually have a normal or even high sex drive. (4)
When it comes to a low sex drive in women, there can be many causes. According to sex psychologist Sheryl Kingsberg, Ph.D, “Women’s sexuality tends to be multifaceted and fairly complicated.” (5)
Common causes of a loss of sexual desire or low libido in women include issues in your relationship with your sexual partner, sociocultural influences (job stress, media images of sexuality, etc. ) and medical conditions (like fibroids, endometriosis and thyroid problems).
Low testosterone doesn’t just cause sexual issues for men. Women can also experience low testosterone. Female testosterone levels peak in the mid-20s and then steadily decrease until a woman goes through menopause. After menopause, female testosterone levels drop dramatically, and sex drive can drop dramatically as well. Birth control pills and other forms of hormonal pregnancy prevention can also have negative effects on a woman’s desire for sexual activity. (6)
When it comes to how to increase your libido, there are two key biological chemicals that may affect your level of sexual desire whether you’re a man or woman. I’m talking about dopamine and prolactin. It’s theorized that dopamine increases desire while prolactin decreases it. If you take any medications, it’s important to know that some can increase prolactin release or inhibit dopamine release. Either of these two scenarios can decrease sexual desire and also cause other sexual side effects. (7)
In men, low prolactin has been linked with multiple signs of poor sexual health and psychological health. Low prolactin levels are also associated with a larger body mass index (BMI), high blood sugar levels, lower levels of physical activity and just generally feeling unhealthier. (8)
Relationship issues, depression, prescription medications, alcoholism, drug abuse and/or chronic diseases like diabetes can all be at the root of low sex drive for both sexes. A BMI that’s too high can also cause problems for both men and women when it comes to libido. Obese men tend to struggle with erectile difficulty, but studies have shown that losing only a small percent of weight can improve both male and female sexual function. A study conducted at Duke University reports that obese people are 25 times more likely to report sexual problems. (9)
How to Increase Libido Through Diet
Let’s talk about how to increase libido through your diet, which includes what you should eat more of and what you should avoid or reduce significantly.
Foods That Help
Natural Aphrodisiacs — Figs, bananas and avocados are natural aphrodisiacs loaded with vitamins and minerals that can encourage more blood flow to the genitals and naturally increase sex drive. (10)
Vitamin C foods — Vitamin C improves blood circulation to the organs so it’s important to make sure you consume foods rich in vitamin C on a daily basis. Vitamin C has also specifically been linked with a healthier female libido. (11) Some great choices include broccoli, oranges, red peppers and guava.
Iron-rich foods — For women in particular, low iron levels can have a negative affect on sexual desire, arousal, lubrication and ability to have an orgasm. Great sources of iron include dark leafy greens like kale and spinach, along with grass-fed beef.
Collagen-rich foods — Collagen production naturally declines with age. This has a direct negative effect on skin health and makes it harder to keep skin firm. This phenomenon can make it harder for men to maintain an erection, and it can lead to a looser vaginal wall in women. (12) To increase your collagen levels, you can consume more bone broths and opt for a collagen supplement powder. Vitamin C also helps to increase collagen production.
Sweet potatoes — Sweet potatoes or yams are loaded with potassium and vitamin A. The potassium can help with high blood pressure, which makes a man more likely to have erectile dysfunction. (13)
Watermelon — In 2008, research conducted at Texas A&M demonstrated that watermelon may have a Viagra effect. The phytonutrients known as lycopene, beta-carotene and citrulline found in watermelon help relax blood vessels. While watermelon might not be as organ-specific as Viagra, it can be helpful in the bedroom without any negative side effects when you naturally want to improve libido. (14)
Spices like nutmeg and clove — Spices are loaded with antioxidants, which is great for overall health, including libido. Research published in the journal BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine specifically found that extracts of nutmeg and clove enhanced the sexual behavior of male animal subjects. (15) Clove is also great at improving bad breath.
Dark chocolate — Research has shown that chocolate consumption leads to the release of phenylethylamine and serotonin, leading to some aphrodisiac and mood-lifting effects. (16) Just make sure you choose a low-sugar, high-quality dark chocolate.
Brazil nuts — These nuts are high in selenium, which plays a role in maintaining healthy testosterone levels.
Almonds — Rich in zinc, selenium and vitamin E, almonds contain vitamins, minerals and healthy fats that can improve sexual health and reproduction.
Water — Making sure you’re not dehydrated is helpful when it comes to your libido since dehydration can cause a number of negative side effects that can easily dull sexual desire. If you want to avoid possible fatigue, headaches and vaginal dryness then drink up.
Foods to Avoid
Trans fats and fried foods — Foods items that are greasy and/or loaded with trans fats are not helpful in the bedroom by any stretch. The adverse effects of consuming trans fatty acids can include increases in abnormal sperm production for men and interference with gestation for women. (17)
Processed foods — Chemicals in these foods may negatively affect sexual performance.
High-sodium foods — Foods that are very high in sodium, like canned foods and processed foods, can contribute to high blood pressure, which in turn decreases the flow of blood to the sex organs.
Conventional dairy — Milk, cheese and other dairy products from cow’s milk can have synthetic hormones that have a negative effect on estrogen and testosterone levels.
Sugar — Sugar in general negatively affects sex hormones. Studies have shown specific and scary affects on testosterone levels. In a 2013 study of male subjects, the consumption of glucose decreased blood levels of testosterone by an average of 25 percent, regardless of whether the men had diabetes, prediabetes or normal glucose tolerance. Testosterone levels also remained low hours after glucose consumption. (19)
Caffeine — Overindulgence in caffeine can have unwanted affects on sexual performance.
Alcohol — Overdoing it on alcoholic beverages is known to decrease sexual desire, arousal and sensitivity. If you’re going to imbibe, opt for one glass (yes, just one) of polyphenol-rich red wine. The antioxidants in red wine can help widen blood vessels and increase blood flow to key arousal areas. (20)
Microwaveable Popcorn — It may be convenient, but it’s certainly not healthy. The chemicals found in the lining of microwave popcorn bags (as well as nonstick pots and pans) have been linked to a lower sex drive for men. According to a 2009 study, these types of popcorn bags contain perfluoroalkyl acids, such as PFOA or PFOS, known to significantly lower sperm counts. (21)
How to Increase Libido with Supplements
Supplements for Low Libido in Men:
- L-arginine (1,000 milligrams twice daily): Helps with blood vessel dilation and improves blood flow to the genital region.
- Ginkgo biloba (120 milligrams twice daily): May improve blood flow to the genitals.
- Tribulus (85–250 milligrams three times daily): Used in Traditional Chinese Medicine as an aphrodisiac. (22)
- Maca (500 milligrams three times daily): Research shows this adaptogen herb helps increase sexual desire.
- Niacin (250 milligrams three times daily): Vitamin B3 (niacin) vasodilator that helps improve blood flow.
Supplements for Low Libido in Women
- Panax Ginseng (1,000 milligrams once daily for three weeks): This amount and duration of Panax ginseng (Asian ginseng) has been shown to increase sexual desire in women going through menopause. (23)
- Maca (500 milligrams three times daily): Research shows this adaptogen herb helps increase sexual desire, hormonal balance and fertility in women.
- Iron (25–30 milligrams daily): If you have iron deficiency anemia, then supplementing with iron might help your libido. Look for iron chelate, which is generally well-absorbed, and take it with a vitamin C source. Iron supplements can cause constipation — therefore, it’s important to confirm that your anemia is being caused by iron deficiency.
- Yohimbine (15–30 milligrams daily): Has been shown to help with orgasm dysfunction. (24)
- Ashwagandha (500 milligrams once or twice daily): Shown to help women treat female sexual distress. (25)
How to Increase Libido with Essential Oils
Wondering how to increase libido with essential oils? You’ll want to try essential oils like sandalwood, rose, jasmine and ylang ylang have been shown to naturally increase the libido of both men and women. They also act as natural aphrodisiacs and have been shown to improve mood and outlook on life.
When it comes to the essential oils for hormonal balance, sandalwood essential oil is especially helpful to both sexes when it comes to libido. It’s excellent at balancing testosterone levels in both men and women. Sandalwood is also a natural aphrodisiac, which is why it’s commonly used in many colognes and perfumes.
For men with low testosterone, you can simply add a few drops of sandalwood oil into your deodorant or homemade lotion to not only smell good, but to improve your hormones and libido.
Cinnamon oil is another great essential oil choice when it comes to how to increase libido. Cinnamon oil is a natural remedy for impotence. It works by influencing enzymes in the nitric oxide pathway to increase blood flow to the genitals.
Bonus Remedies for How to Increase Libido
Let’s talk about how to increase libido naturally with some easy lifestyle changes. Too little exercise can be a cause of low libido, but you also don’t want to overdo it either. Low libido is one of the risks of overtraining. Exercises that increase human growth hormone like weight training and burst training can greatly improve blood flow to the genitals, mood and your own body perception. Also, try yoga, which can lead to better orgasms by increasing genital blood flow .
If you smoke, here is yet another reason to stop. To improve the fire in the bedroom, you need to put out the flame of your next cigarette. Smoking not only decreases sexual desire and satisfaction, but it also decreases fertility. According to one group of researchers, smokers reported having sex less than six times a month while nonsmoking men were having sex nearly twice as often. (26)
If body image or confidence is an issue, how to increase your libido means improving your self-esteem and sex drive by focusing on your attributes rather than your flaws. You should also find ways to reduce your stress levels and improve your length and quality of sleep.
To see how to increase libido by increasing your testosterone levels, check out my article: 9 Natural Testosterone Boosters for More Energy, Better Sleep + More.
Conventional Treatment for Low Libido
There can be a physical or psychological cause of low libido, or it could be both. It’s estimated that four out of 10 men over the age of 45 have low testosterone. Meanwhile, the American Medical Association estimates that several million women in the United States suffer from what doctors often call female sexual arousal disorder. (27) Many people do turn to conventional treatment when it comes to how to increase libido, so let’s see what some of the common low libido treatments are in the conventional medicine world.
For men, testosterone replacement therapy is a common conventional treatment, although it’s controversial. Many men might think that a prescription drug like Viagra or Cialis is the simple answer. Now, this is very important to know, guys: These drugs do not boost your libido — they only help you to get and keep erections. This will not get to the root of your low or nonexistent sex drive, and these drugs are not without scary side effects like memory problems, back pain, loss of hearing and many more. (28)
If a woman has a low libido and has already gone through menopause, vaginal estrogen creams are commonly recommended to treat vaginal dryness. Testosterone therapy in the form of pills or patches is also conventionally recommended for women. If a medical condition like a fibroid is causing sexual issues, it might likely be recommended that you surgically remove the fibroid(s). If your birth control pill is lowering your desire for sex, your doctor might prescribe a non-hormonal option.
Other conventional treatments for low libido in both men and women include a change in medication or the prescribing of antidepressants if depression is believed to be the cause. However, many antidepressants can lower sex drive. For both men and women, relationship counseling or sex therapy is sometimes recommended and helpful.
Precautions with Increasing Libido
If you experience a low libido and natural remedies don’t seem to help, it’s important to see your doctor sooner than later to make sure you don’t have a more serious underlying physical or psychological issue. It’s also important to know the side effects of any and all medications you currently take to make sure they’re not causing your low libido.
If you see a conventional doctor and seek advice on how to increase libido, hopefully he or she will suggest some healthy lifestyle choices. If you’re a man, you might likely receive a little blue pill, but you must know that this absolutely will not get to the real root of your low libido, whether physical, mental, emotional or all of the above.
Final Thoughts on How to Increase Libido
People don’t like to talk about sex with their doctors, but it’s important that you don’t ignore a low libido and only have it negatively affect your life and self-image more and more as time goes on. There are so many natural foods and remedies that can greatly improve your love life. You should also make sure to address any mental blocks to your sexual desire, including but not limited to a negative body image, mood issues or relationship problems.
How to improve your libido naturally means be willing to make simple changes to your daily life that can lead to noticeable improvements in your sexual desire. It may not happen overnight, but if you stick with these natural libido remedies, it won’t take long before you feel like your old, or should I maybe say younger, self again.
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