Natural Libido Boosters Boost Drive and Performance
Each spring a young man’s (and presumably young woman’s) fancy turns to love—but what if you’re no longer quite so young and ready? Age apparently matters. In a recent survey by Massachusetts General Hospital, four out of 10 women expressed sexual concerns such as diminished libido (especially at middle age), while men reported a consistent trend toward more frequent sexual dysfunction with increasing age. But whether you’re male or female, the truth is you can have a healthy and fulfilling sex life at any age.
DON’T OVER-MEDICALIZE AGING
A decrease in libido with age is commonly chalked up to declining hormone levels, but in reality it’s far more complicated. In addition to the hormonal effect of aging, your sex drive is also significantly influenced by what’s going on in your life overall, explains Daily Health News contributing editor Andrew L. Rubman, ND. The state of your health, relationship, job, mortgage, concerns about children, care for aging parents, the medications you take—all these and other factors come with you into the bedroom. Sexuality is a complicated equation, which is why he doesn’t believe that infamous “little blue pill” so relentlessly hawked on TV and the Internet is the solution.
As Dr. Rubman reminds us, menopause and andropause (its male equivalent) are life passages, not diseases. While treating low desire with pharmaceutical products may mask symptoms, it’s important to recognize that these drugs have powerful and undesirable side effects. For example, in addition to sudden vision loss, Viagra, Cialis and Levitra have resulted in erections lasting four hours or more, which are dangerous and require a really embarrassing visit to the emergency room. Testosterone (creams, gels, injections, pills) may help boost a woman’s sex drive—but may also bring on baldness, a deep voice, liver damage, acne and abnormal hair growth…not a pretty picture.
A far better way to address changes in libido is to provide gentle support to natural biological processes, Dr. Rubman points out. Examine your day-to-day life. If you’re driving yourself hard, eating poorly or not getting enough sleep or exercise, it’s not surprising that you have trouble in the bedroom. Paying more attention to your health in general will soon pay off in a better sex life.
Dr. Rubman notes that sexual concerns may also be a sign of problems elsewhere in the body. For instance, erectile dysfunction is often one of the earliest signs of cardiovascular disease in men. And for both genders, problems in the large intestine or urinary tract may end up disturbing sexual function.
HOW TO GET A MORE SATISFYING SEX LIFE
Among the strategies Dr. Rubman recommends…
- Quell inflammation. Imbalances in the pelvic-abdominal region may be related to inflammatory disturbances that disrupt microbial colonies in the genital-urinary and lower gastrointestinal tracts. To correct this imbalance and restore digestive and immune health, which in turn support sexuality, Dr. Rubman prescribes probiotics such as Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium. Also helpful to this end is to cut back on sugar, white breads, dairy products, trans fats and fried foods…eat protein at every meal …and two or three times a week enjoy cold-water fish such as salmon or tuna, rich in omega-3 fatty acids. A good over-the-counter option is Nordic Naturals.
- Ease vaginal dryness or thinning. Dr. Rubman prescribes a variety of topical low-dose bioidentical hormonal products, botanical extracts and supplements.
- Relax and take a deep breath—literally. Dr. Rubman suggests making a habit of consciously breathing deeply at every available opportunity—when waiting for the light to change, when you ride the elevator, each time you sit at your desk—whatever pattern works for you. Excess anxiety raises blood levels of the stress hormone cortisol, and impedes the body’s ability to manufacture the estrogen and testosterone which are vital to sexual response. Dr. Rubman’s favorite breathing technique is the meditative deep breathing exercises of pranayama yoga, which fuel your natural balance, energy and sexuality. Read more about these techniques at Yoga Point.
- Exercise. Regular workouts not only clear your mind and improve your mood, they make you feel better about your body—often a libido boost. Aerobic activity such as brisk walking, biking or dancing also increases blood flow to organs, including the sexual ones.
- Practice Kegel exercises. To enhance pelvic muscle control and thus sexual satisfaction, Dr. Rubman recommends daily Kegel exercises for both men and women. Learn to locate and isolate pubococcygeus (PC) muscles by interrupting urine flow next time you go to the bathroom. Next, three or four times a day, strengthen your PC muscles by alternately clenching and releasing them for five to 10 seconds at a time. Learn how to perfect your Kegel technique at MayoClinic.com.
- Date your partner. Use novelty to break up humdrum routines. For instance, steal away for a romantic weekend or fashion your own “stay-vacation” at home. Take a long walk together in the park or on the beach, buy lavender oil for a shared bath, light an aromatherapy candle, enjoy a leisurely dinner (make sure to go light on the sleep-inducing carbs) and see what happens. Read about romantic recipes to “feed the soul” at TheRomantic.com.
- Yohimbe bark extract. In cases of specific sexual dysfunction, Dr. Rubman prescribes an extract of the botanical medicine yohimbe, derived from the bark of an evergreen tree in West Africa. This medicine can be taken by either men or women to stimulate desire. Dr. Rubman prescribes it in drop form, available from Scientific Botanicals. (Note: If you have high blood pressure, kidney problems or a psychiatric disorder, do not use yohimbe.)
In the long run, making adjustments toward a healthier lifestyle—fitting in more exercise, eating healthier foods, spending more time with your partner and less time at the office—will do a lot more for your sex life than taking a pill. That way, says Dr. Rubman, when the moment is right, you’ll be ready.