For many women, it may take more than roses and candlelight to get their engines started. Approximately 40% of women experience low sexual desire at some point. This may be a primary condition (a woman never felt much sexual desire) or secondary condition (a woman used to have sexual desire, but no longer has interest) Not surprising, having more sex actually helps boost your libido and having sex comes with a whole host of benefits, for both men and women:
1. Sex relieves stress.
2. Sex boosts immunity.
3. Sex burns calories.
4. Sex improves heart health.
5. Sex boosts self-esteem.
6. Sex improves intimacy.
7. Sex reduces pain.
8. Sex helps regulate menstrual cycles.
9. Sex strengthens pelvic floor muscles.
10.Sex improves sleep.
What level of desire is normal?
According to Kelli Young, an occupational therapist, sex therapist, and group psychotherapist “There really is no such thing as “normal” sex drive. Women vary greatly in their desire for sex. What is important is a woman’sownsubjectiveexperienceof the sex she is having, or not having. In medical terms, low sex drive, or “hypoactive sexual desire disorder” is defined as a persistent or recurrent lack of sexual fantasies, thoughts, and/or interest in sexual activity that causes personal distress.”
Why many women experience low libido. A woman’s libido is controlled by hormones, nerves, blood supply, and stimulation, both physical (e.g. touch) and psychological (e.g. fantasy or imagery). Problems or deficiencies in any of these systems can negatively affect a woman’s sexual satisfaction and in turn her desire for sex.
Low libido can result when a woman is having difficulties becoming aroused. If a woman is not adequately aroused, she is unlikely to reach the sexual peaks necessary to trigger orgasm and the sense of relaxation that often follows.
Lack of arousal can be caused by or associated with insufficient vaginal lubrication, which can in turn lead to vaginal irritation or pain, and may even trigger vaginal or urinary tract infections. When sex is unfulfilling or painful, a woman is unlikely to desire it, and may begin to avoid it.
According to Sherry Torkos, Pharmacist and author of The Canadian Encyclopedia Of Natural Medicine, some other factors that affect libido are:
• Psychological issues – stress, depression, relationship conflict, negative or traumatic sexual experiences
• Health conditions – Cushing’s syndrome, fatigue, menopause, postpartum depression, diabetes, hysterectomy, and obesity
• Hormonal imbalance – low thyroid, estrogen, testosterone or DHEA
•Prescription drugs – beta- blockers (for blood pressure), birth control pills, anti-depressants, tranquilizers, selective estrogen receptor modulators (SERMs)
• Nutritional deficiencies – zinc
• Physical problems – vaginal dryness, vulvodynia, and inability to orgasm
• Use of alcohol or marijuana
What Supplements are Available for Low Libido? While there are no prescription drugs that can raise libido, there are a variety of nutrients and herbs that can be helpful such as: L-arginine and Ginkgo biloba. A study of 77 women who were function received either a supplement containing L-arginine, Ginkgo biloba and pantothenic acid or a placebo.
At the end of four weeks, 70.6% of women in the treatment group reported an improvement in their level of sexual desire and 73.5% saw an improvement in their overall sex life. In addition, the treatment had a 64.7% increase in the frequency of intercourse and 61.8% had improved sexual relationship with the partner. Intensity of clitoral sensation was rated higher by 52.9% of treatment subjects, 52.9% experienced less dryness during intercourse and 47.1% increased in frequency of orgasm. In addition, women taking the supplement also experienced less discomfort during intercourse. There were no side effects in either the placebo or treatment groups. (Ito et al., 2001).
Another double-blind, placebo- controlled study for a supplement containingL-arginine,Ginkgobiloba and pantothenic acid was completed in 108 women differing in menopausal status. After 4 weeks the authors all menopausal stages compared to placebo with respect to frequency of intercourse, improvement in level of sexual desire and satisfaction with overall sex life (Ito et al., 2006).
Kelli Young, a registered sex therapist and registered marriage and family therapist has these suggestions for improving libido:
• Consult with a medical and/or naturopathic professional to be sure you are getting appropriate care/treatment for any underlying illnesses or physiological causes of low libido
• Consider a natural libido supplement like femMED Libido
• Get to know your own body, sexually (self-stimulation)
• Use a water-based lubricant
• Make lifestyle adjustments (exercise, sleep, stress management)
• Strengthen pelvic floor muscles (Kegel exercises)
• Address relationship issues
•Seek counselling from a sex therapist or couples counsellor skilled in addressing sexual issues