Hi Sweet Friends,
Last week, Aviva Romm, Integrative MD and I walked you through the main causes of sex drive dips and how you can start to address these issues to move toward a healthier, more fulfilling sex life. Today, we’re back! Although we touched upon food’s role in sexual health in part one (you can read that blog here), we’re going to go further in part two with an in-depth look at food, supplements and herbs that can help boost your sex drive.
But let’s get real before we dive into the details. There are countless ways to say it—makin’ whoopee, knockin’ boots, schtuppin’—but how often do we talk about sex in an open, honest way? We may even fib about how well it’s going in the bedroom. So if you’re struggling in this department (we all do sometimes!) I hope that this series will help you step out of your comfort zone and explore how to improve this part of life. Now, let’s dig right into this delicious part of the conversation.
KC: When do you recommend that someone consider integrating certain foods, herbs or supplements into their life to address sexual health issues?
AR: Since the emotional and relationship aspect of sexual health is so strong, I always suggest taking a close look at those parts of life first. (In case you missed it, go check out our Sex Quiz from last week!) Are you happy in your relationship? Are you with the right person? Do you struggle with self-esteem or have poor body image? Maybe there’s some past trauma hanging around that needs some healing. Also, low sex drive can sometimes be a symptom of a medical problem. So if you’re having any other health symptoms, it’s always a good idea to check in with your doctor.
But if you’ve already covered these bases, adding in certain foods, supplements, and/or herbs into your life with the guidance of a qualified practitioner is a great way to address sex drive issues. I recommend starting with foods and supplements and seeing if your sex life improves. After a few weeks, you could add herbs as well if you’re not seeing progress.
KC: Are there specific nutritional supplements or botanicals that can help women to improve their sex drive?
AR: Certainly, but again, please work with a qualified practitioner when integrating herbs or supplements into your life. Here’s a list of my top recommendations:
- Walnuts: An excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids. Known to boost dopamine and arginine levels in the brain, which increases the production of nitric oxide. Nitric oxide is the essential chemical compound for erections (clitoral blood flow and erectile function); it dilates the blood vessels, allowing blood to travel more freely to the sex organs leading to—ooh la la—more sensitivity and sensation. A quarter cup of walnuts will do the job!
- Chocolate: May trigger the release of serotonin, which is the neurotransmitter responsible for feelings of relaxation and pleasure. Better mood means being “in the mood” more often! The bioflavonoids in dark chocolate also open up blood vessels and improve blood flow. Again this is good for clitoral blood flow and erectile function, and thus the pleasure response. Up to 2 oz. of at least 72% dark chocolate daily is recommended.
- Pumpkin Seeds: Studies show that women with a greater sex drive have higher levels of testosterone. Pumpkin seeds are rich in zinc, a testosterone booster, making it the perfect sexy snack. A quarter-cup a few times per week may do the trick.
- L-arginine, an amino acid available in supplement form, may dilate clitoral blood vessels and improve penile erectile function, increasing flow to erogenous zones which helps to improve arousal. The typical dose is 5 grams daily taken for 6 weeks.
- Maca: The Quechua Indians of Peru’s central highlands consider maca a highly nutritious food that promotes mental acuity, vitality, and stamina. It is also well know as an aphrodisiacal tonic that enhances sexual desire and performance. Dried maca root is rich in essential amino acids, iodine, iron, and magnesium, as well as sterols that may possess a wide range of benefits, including aphrodisiac properties. The dose is 3.5 grams per day for 6 weeks or longer.
- Chaste berry can help to stabilize the sex-related hormones estrogen and progesterone. Because it acts directly on female hormones, but does not contain any hormones, it may be used safely to improve sexual response in women with hormone imbalances, especially when caused by menopause or polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). The typical dose is 150-250 mg per day or about 40 drops of the extract 1-2 times daily.
- Chinese ginseng has been used for centuries to improve stamina and improve sexual response as well as energy and mood. This makes it a useful remedy for women suffering from low libido because of stress, anxiety or menopause. The dose is 3 grams per day for 12 weeks.
Thanks for the tips, Aviva! I hope the insights we’ve shared over the past couple weeks inspire you to tune into how you can nurture your sexual health. Whether you find support in a book, make an appointment with your doc, get more sleep or consult with a practitioner about herbs or supplements, you’re one step closer to giving your body and mind the self-care it needs to thrive.
Your turn: Have you experienced a connection between your sex drive and your diet? Share your insights in the comments.
Peace & chocolate-covered strawberries,
Check out my cookbook, Crazy Sexy Kitchen, for nourishing, nosh-worthy recipes that will have you feeling fab in no time! Get my cookbook here.
I love Aviva, and you, Kris!
These topics of desire and health are so important – we need MORE women talking about sex drive, nutrition, and vitality – they’re all one big piece of the healthy-life-pie!
Right on, Alexandra! So happy this series has resonated with you. xo, kc
Thank you, Aviva, so much for your post about food that can boost sexual drive. There are many articles in internet about that, but edibles from your list helped me most!
Thanks so much for the great info! I’m confused by the limited time on some of the herbs and supplements – are these supposed to kick drive libido? Or should these not be taken for a lengthy period (4 weeks off)? Also, where can I find quality supplements that are recommended?
Hi Dian, I checked in with Aviva & here’s her advice:
“Any limits placed on duration of herb use just mean that’s how long the herb needs to be used to be effective based on studies—but they can be used for longer if they are working for you! There’s really nothing in the scientific literature that says they need to be used for a certain time on and then off, and they are often used continually. Kris and I talk a bit about how to identify high quality supplements in a previous article we did together (http://bit.ly/161IfXU). Overall, most products that you find in high end health food stores like Whole Foods have met basic standards for safety and include what the package says it includes. I also recommend Mountain Rose Herbs as a great place to get excellent quality bulk herbs online, and in small quantities. I use a lot of Herb Pharm and Gaia Herbs for liquid extracts.” – Aviva Romm, MD
Thank you for opening up the discussion to talk about sex. This is how food helped me.
I stopped eating raw vegetables that contain oxalic acid to improve my sexual experience. I discovered one of the reasons I was having painful sex was because of oxalic acid crystals forming in my vagina. This is a condition called vulvodynia. Once I stopped eating raw kale and spinach I saw a huge improvement. Now that sex is more enjoyable I have more sex drive.
Great to hear that you’ve found what works for you! xo, kc
Hi Kris! Thank you for all of the amazing info in this two-part series. I wondered if you or Aviva could clarify if the nutritional supplements and herbs mentioned today can be taken during the same timeframe or should they each be experimented with individually for a time? I’m a life and health coach and want to be sure I’m passing along the right info. Thanks again! xo
Hiya Janie! Great question. I’ll check in with Aviva & get back to you soon. Stay tuned! xo, kc
Hi Again Janie, Check out Aviva’s response to Dian’s question. Hope it helps! xo, kc
As I was young and as sexually active as now but with a partner with whom things were complicated, I remember making some mint tea in the evening but this time, the entire packet of leaves fell in the pot. I brewed it for not too long and some time after I’d drunk it I remember feeling a clear and irrepressible urge for sex, not related to any kind of outside stimulation from my partner. It felt totally linked and very unusual.
Do you know anything about wild yam creams? My doctor prescribed a wild yam progesterone and testosterone cream. I have read mixed reviews online about it. What have you heard?
Hi Beth, Here are Aviva’s thoughts on your question. xo, kc
“Sure do! The thing about wild yam creams is that the effective ones are effective because they do contain pharmaceutical grade progesterone. Wild yam does have wonderful herbal properties, but acting as a progesterone is not one of them. The creams are also helpful for vaginal dryness just because they are lubricating due to the oils in them. ” – Aviva Romm, MD
Thank you (for both posts! This is a very important issue but since it’s so rarely written/talked about, it’s easy to assume there are no solutions. I will add these ideas to my regular supplement list and see if I can get a little help in the “knockin’ boots” department.
I’m so glad you found this series helpful! xo, kc
how about an article for men?
Hey Larry, Thanks for the suggestion! We’ll keep the guys in mind next time. 🙂 kc
Maca powder has really helped for me. Especially after I gave birth and needed a “jump start”!
Garlic really helps. I cook with it most days and it seems to increase desire.
Moringa is also a very credible herbal aphrodisiac.
I think these are great! Women are especially vulnerable to being told that it is all in their mind when there are problems in the bedroom. The mental is so important, but it is also essential to address what is going on physically. Natural supplements like chasteberry can be a life-saver for some and it is great that this is information is being made available.
Thank you sooo much Kris. I bought the book you mentioned in part one “womens anatomy of arousal by Sherri Winston and I couldn’t recommend it more highly! It points out there are no accurate diagrams of female genitalia and so many think there’s something a bit wrong. I suffered from this All My Life! And didn’t realize just how much that affected me. Now I realize the truth I feel so much more whole and yes, empowered in myself. I would never have known this stuff but for your mentioning different books to check out. Thank you so much, you’ve nurtured all the good that’s happened to me since I got breast cancer. You’ve done so much just for me Kris and there are so many you must help so much. I think of you in my day and wish you all the joy and love you give so freely. Love Ellen
Thank you so much for sharing, Ellen! I’m thrilled you love the book & that you’ve found resources and support through my Crazy Sexy world that have brought you more clarity & joy. xo, kc
I’ve been considering supplementing for this reason, BUT I’m a cancer survivor. I was radiated in the chest area and have a high risk for developing breast cancer. I’m also on birth control. With this said-I’m worried about additional hormones or estrogen from supplements. Do any of the ones you recommend have implications concerning breast cancer risk?
Very nice and informative post. Clicked on all the right buttons. Enjoy reading your post. Thanks
Hurray! Another excuse to eat chocolate. I’m going to have to get some of the gourmet dark that is made locally here.
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Oelala i always eat walnuts, but gonna try the rest also!
It’s truly incredible, i got to store a lot of these foods! Thanks for the information.
Mnay people have always said and believed that oysters are an aphrodisiac. But recently when I was reading a post that there has really been no scientific studies support this. They include zinc and some scientists said that oysters are high in zinc, which raises sperm and testosterone production. Its great to see the foods you have included that increase libido I am actually quite shocked at these foods I eat these on a daily basis and I bet most people do. Herbs I have never heard of increasing the sex drive, I find that rather strange. But reading what each herb does its more about increasing the hormone. Not sounding sexist or anything but reading about the herb Chaste berry that acts directly on the female hormone, is it more common for women to have a low sex drive than men?