Not having as much sex as you’d like? Not liking the sex you’re having? Are the things that usually turn you on leaving you tepid? Your libido could probably use some support. Loss of libido, or low sex drive, will affect up to one in five men in the course of their lives, and even more women—from 26.7% of premenopausal to 52.4% of menopausal women (1, 2). Libido is difficult to quantify and can be mysterious to trace, but age, stress, and mood can all play a role in your reduced sexual interest. The good news is that there are ways to help increase libido naturally, from clearing your mind through meditation to filling your cup with supplements that get your juices flowing.
Causes of a Li-bad-o Libido
Low libido has many causes. It can naturally fluctuate during pregnancy, childbirth, and perimenopause—and even with age. Testosterone naturally falls as men get older, along with lower energy and decreased muscle tone, which can contribute to lower sex drive in men.
Stress and fatigue can also drop libido. A demanding schedule and the fatigue that often comes with it can have a negative impact on your sex drive—this can be especially true for women (3). Stress triggers the release of cortisol, and
high cortisol resulting from ongoing stress can lead to a decrease in testosterone, a primary hormone responsible for sexual desire and sexual satisfaction.
Stress can also indirectly affect sexual desire by leading to poor sleep.
Hormonal conditions can also play a role. Low sexual desire may be caused by an underactive thyroid, also known as hypoactive hypothyroidism, which means that your thyroid gland isn’t producing enough of its hormones. This can impact many physiological processes, including sexual function (4). Medications like birth control can also impact hormone production and sexual response as a result.
And then there’s mood. Low self-esteem can impact drive and level of comfort with sex in general. Lack of trust or intimacy with a sexual partner—not to mention a loss of interest or esteem for them—can equally explain a sudden change in sexual desire.
Because sex is largely psychological, help from an expert like a relationship counselor, sex coach, or psychiatrist may be a good option to consider when grappling with potential emotional and relational causes of low libido. Identifying the root cause of your low sexual desire can lead to you having a better sex life.
Last but not least, any number of physical imbalances can inhibit sexual desire and satisfaction. Poor blood circulation, high blood pressure, erectile dysfunction, painful sex, endometriosis, and vaginal dryness are all factors to consider when it comes to lessened libido.
While all these causes of low libido are undoubtedly common, if you experience an unexpected loss in libido, you should always check with your healthcare practitioner to see if it may be a result of an underlying medical condition.
11 Ways to Increase Libido Naturally
So what can you do if you’re struggling with libido? Here are 9 steps you can take to increase it naturally and get yourself feeling sexual again.
1. Eat for Erotics
If you’re after a higher sex drive, be sure you’re getting adequate nutrition and are eating consistently throughout the day. This supports the health of your adrenal gland, which makes precursors that can be converted to sex hormones. Traditional aphrodisiacs like oysters, asparagus, or strawberries might also help stimulate sex drive via compounds that increase blood flow or minerals that support sex hormone production.
Some foods can increase genital blood flow. For instance, garlic contains Allicin, a vasodilator that can improve blood flow. Compounds like Carnitine, L-arginine, and Zinc can all help improve blood flow, which is crucial to sexual function. You can find these in substantial amounts in high-protein foods.
Plenty of protein and complex carbohydrates will help you have energy and better ready your body for sexual activity. Try to get the recommended grams of protein per day. Eating fish, particularly, has been linked to an increase in sex drive, and healthy fatty acids like omega-3s will help regulate adrenal hormones. Oysters are also rich in Zinc, a necessary ingredient for testosterone production.
If you follow a plant-based diet, look for quality protein sources or combinations that form a complete protein, like quinoa, beans, and rice. If needed, seek a protein supplement to support your macronutrient needs. Plant-based foods like avocados that provide healthy fats can further support the balance of sex hormones to help get you in the mood. If a change in diet isn’t in the cards, there are a variety of supplements to balance hormones that you can take.
Cacao is infamous for being an aphrodisiac, and there’s some scientific reasoning to back this up. With its ability to stimulate the release of endorphins and serotonin, Cacao may help boost mood and spark libido (5,6,7). That’s because serotonin acts on vasoconstriction and vasodilation in the female genital tract, meaning it could enhance blood flow down there, helping you feel more fiery. Cacao also contains a compound called theobromine that stimulates the nervous system. This, in conjunction with cacao’s fatty acid amides acting as cannabinoid mimics, might contribute to transient feelings of pleasure or arousal (7). So grab that dark chocolate bar and increase your sex hormone levels naturally.
2. Harness Herbs
There are a number of herbs and adaptogens that have been studied for their impact on desire and libido.
Shatavari, a powerful plant from the asparagus family harvested for its thick, succulent roots, is a powerful aphrodisiac primarily used to support sexual health. In its natural form, organic Shatavari extract can be a powerful supplement for those looking to improve their sexual drive.
Considered the “female Viagra” and the “queen of herbs” for its potential to increase female libido, Shatavari literally translates to “she who has one hundred husbands.” In Ayurveda, it’s considered the ultimate women’s tonic, supporting them through each phase of life.
Shilajit, another ingredient known for its libido-boosting effects, is an ancient tar-like substance native to the Tibetan and Himalayan mountains, where it’s found deep in rock crevices. This dark brown or black substance contains over 85 minerals and trace elements that the body needs to function at its peak. Shilajit supports the body’s mitochondria in converting oxygen and nutrients into physical power, thereby supporting hormonal balance and female libido.
Epimedium, also known as “horny goat weed,” is a flowering plant found in Asia and the Mediterranean. It’s a powerful aphrodisiac that helps ignite sexual interest and prepare the body for physical activity. Epimedium contains chemicals that could help increase blood flow and enhance sexual function, as well as phytoestrogens, chemicals that act somewhat like the hormone estrogen that has been found to be beneficial in addressing symptoms of estrogen deficiency (8). It’s a multi-use remedy that helps get the juices flowing in the brain and body, supporting circulatory health to get you in the mood.
Maca is a cruciferous root native to Peru, where it grows exclusively at high altitudes in the Andes. It’s a nutrient-dense plant used for over 2,000 years to support fertility, energy, stamina, and mood. A 2002 study found that Maca improved sexual desire in men (9). In a double-blind study from 2008, researchers found that Maca showed significant improvements in sexual function and libido, with a high-dose group making more attempts at sexual activity (10). Another 2008 study found that Maca decreased sexual dysfunction in postmenopausal women (11).
Ginseng is another adaptogen that’s touted to have benefits for sex drive, particularly in men. It may stimulate the production of nitric oxide, which helps relax muscles in the penis and enhances blood circulation. Further studies suggest that Ginseng could be useful in the imrpovement improvement of erectile dysfunction (12, 13). Because past sexual performance and self-confidence regarding erectile function can impact libido in the future, that’s this is good news all around for male libido.
- A popular herb in Traditional Chinese Medicine, Ginkgo Biloba has also been used historically to spark libido. More Additional studies need to be done, but Ginkgo Biloba could act as a sexual stimulant due to its ability to relax blood vessels and get blood flowing in the body (14).
What if we told you that we make vitamins for sex drive? A number of these potent herbs, along with stimulating Cacao, can be found in Sex Dust®, our adaptogenic blend that targets stress to support healthy hormonal balance and libido.
3. Meditate More
Meditation is a powerful tool to help lower stress and practice being in the present moment, both of which can help your sex life while increasing your sexual pleasure. A 2018 study found that women who meditated scored higher on levels of sexual function and desire (15), while a 2019 study found that people who practice mindfulness during sex tended to have better sexual satisfaction and confidence (16).
4. Get into Bed
Lack of sleep is detrimental to the energy stores needed for sexual arousal and function. Make it a priority to get your nightly 8 hours in—whether that’s creating a wind-down sleep routine, sticking with a consistent bedtime, limiting blue light, or taking a hot bath a couple of hours before bed (this helps drop your body temperature and signal that it's time to rest). These lifestyle changes can help increase your sexual performance in the bedroom, so it may be worth a shot.
5. Cut Back on Booze
Though alcohol may temporarily reduce inhibitions, too much alcohol can actually lead to erectile dysfunction and inhibit the ability to orgasm (17). It decreases blood flow to the genitals and can increase angiotensin, a hormone linked to the inability to achieve an erection.
In a 2016 study of 60 male subjects who met the criteria for alcohol dependence, 58.3% experienced one or more types of sexual dysfunction, with the most common being inability to reach orgasm. Longer duration and amount of alcohol consumption proportionally increased these symptoms. Drinking too much can also impair women’s physiological responses like self-lubrication, which increases vaginal dryness and can cause painful sex.
6. Get into Your Body
Low self-confidence is a common cause of low libido. Self-perception, body image issues, and social anxiety can all inhibit pleasure and comfort with sex. Of course, these can be complicated issues that aren’t solved overnight!
Find practices and activities that help you feel good in your body. Movement, journaling, spending time in nature, and taking time to laugh with your lover are all simple yet powerful ways to get out of your head and into your body.
7. Get Moving
Speaking of movement, exercise is a great way to get the juices flowing in your body and wake up your sex drive. Exercise works immediately to boost endorphins, lift mood, and reduce stress, all of which can help positively impact sex drive.
After regular exercise, a stronger pelvic floor from exercises like Kegels, and stronger core and leg muscles may help intensify your orgasm, and can lead to an increased sex drive.
And of course, healthy exercise improves circulation and blood flow, which, as we’ve learned, is a key player in physical arousal.
8. Mellow Massage
Not only do massages help you relax, but they also help bring your body back into alignment and improve blood flow critical to sexual arousal.
9. Focus on Feel Good
Past sexual imbalances like erectile dysfunction, premature ejaculation, vaginal dryness, or low satisfaction can lessen interest in sex and compromise a healthy libido. The more positive sexual encounters you have, the more you can rebuild better associations with sex and heightened arousal.
Try focusing on other erogenous zones or non-penetrative sex for a while in order to take some of the pressure off and create positive sexual memories. Taking a supplement to help increase stamina and pleasure can also help improve sex and libido over time.
10. Get Connected
Building trust and intimacy in our relationships can help improve our sex lives and the conditions required for sparking desire. Quality time, cuddling, and meaningful gestures are all good ways to increase feelings of intimacy.
11. Foreplay First
It’s an important function of sexual desire, stimulating physical responses that make sex more comfortable and enjoyable. Physical touch raises your heart rate and sends blood flow to your sexual organs. Kissing triggers the release of oxytocin, dopamine, and serotonin to counter cortisol and relax the body for sex. But foreplay starts long before sex is initiated. Flirtation and touching throughout the day are good places to start.
Kicking Low Libido Out of the Bedroom
When it comes to addressing low libido, you can start by reflecting on the root cause, like any life changes, medications, relationships, stressors, or medical conditions that could be playing a part.
Often there are a number of things that contribute to low libido, which means you can take multiple measures to help. Whether supplementing with adaptogens or ensuring you’re getting quality sleep, these daily practices can help get your sex life back in full swing!
NHS Inform. Loss of Libido.
National Library of Medicine. Prevalence of low sexual desire and hypoactive sexual desire disorder in a nationally representative sample of US women
National Library of Medicine. Average Associations
Between Sexual Desire, Testosterone, and Stress in Women and Men Over Time
National Library of Medicine. Effect of Thyroid Hormone Derangements on Sexual Function in Men and Women British Pharmacological Society. The neuroprotective effects of cocoa flavanol and its influence on cognitive performance.
National Library of Medicine. Anti-Inflammatory and Anti-Nociceptive Effects of Cocoa: A Review on Future Perspectives in Treatment of PainNational Library of Medicine. Chocolate, “Food of the Gods”: History, Science, and Human Health Medical News Today. What are phytoestrogens? Benefits and foods
National Library of Medicine. Effect of Lepidium meyenii (MACA) on sexual desire and its absent relationship with serum testosterone levels in adult healthy men
National Library of Medicine. A Double Blind, Randomized, Pilot Dose Finding Study of Maca Root (L. Meyenii) for the Management of SSRI Induced Sexual Dysfunction
National Library of Medicine. Beneficial effects of Lepidium meyenii (Maca) on psychological symptoms and measures of sexual dysfunction in postmenopausal women are not related to estrogen or androgen content
National Library of Medicine, Red ginseng for treating erectile dysfunction: a systematic review
National Library of Medicine, Multifaceted therapeutic benefits of Ginkgo biloba L.: chemistry, efficacy, safety, and uses
Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy.
Sexual Functioning in Experienced
Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy. The role of sexual mindfulness in sexual wellbeing, Relational wellbeing, and self-esteem
Journal of Medical Research & Review. Prevalence, typology and clinical correlates of sexual dysfunction among men with alcohol dependence syndrome