An ancient adage from Chinese medicine states,
“A doctor would rather treat 10 men than one
woman.” In a way, this validates what women
have always known—that they are indeed intricate
creatures. At the heart of a woman’s complexity
are her hormones, their ebb and flow influencing all aspects of
physical, emotional and mental wellness. Sexy hormones are
sex hormones including, but not limited too, estrogen, testosterone,
DHEA and progesterone. When a woman’s hormones
are in balance, she feels fabulous, her skin glows, she has energy
Sexual desire and satisfaction are affected by hormone havoc.
A woman’s feelings of being “sexy” are hormone driven. Sex
is a central part of who we are. It is the basis for our relationships.
Men are being prescribed the “little blue pill” in record
number and you can’t turn on your computer without being
bombarded by spam to make “it” bigger, longer and stronger.
Yet according the University of Chicago study, 43 percent of
women have no sex drive; and over 51 percent of women are
suffering with pain during intercourse. Not much is being done
in the research community to help women with sexual health
concerns. Most people believe a drop in a woman’s libido is
age-related affecting only older women but over 21 percent of
women 70 or older still have regular sex and younger women in
their 30s tend to be the ones with the biggest declines in libido
due to stress, working, young families and lack of time.
Factors Affecting Sexual Health
So many factors contribute to a decline in a woman’s libido:
- Low thyroid (hypothyroidism)
- The birth control pill
- Excess levels of the hormone prolactin
- Low testosterone
- Prescription and over-the-counter medications especially anti-depressant medication
- Hormone disrupting estrogens in the environment
- Relationship problems
- Hysterectomy where the nerves for pleasure are accidentally damaged.
If you are struggling with low libido, pain upon intercourse, no
or blunted orgasms or vaginal dryness certain, diagnostic tests
should be performed:
- A blood test for Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) should be performed. The result should be below 2.0. Above 2.0 is an indicator of subclinical low thyroid. Doctors do not prescribe medication until your TSH is above 5.5 but by then you may have a multitude of low thyroid symptoms (including weight gain, depression, constipation, feeling cold, hair loss, low to no libido, infertility, recurring miscarriage, terrible hot flashes and night sweats and more).
- A blood test for free testosterone, which measures testosterone that is not bound to sex hormone binding globulin. Testosterone is the hormone of desire and when it is low, sex drive and the ability to reach climax is affected.
- A saliva hormone panel for estrogens including estradiol, estrone and estriol. Blood testing is not accurate in measuring estrogen levels—saliva is more accurate.
Get Your Libido Back Naturally
Once the physical, emotional and physiological factors are ruled
out getting your sex drive back is simple with a healthy diet,
regular exercise and a few key nutritional supplements. A scant
amount of research has been performed in the area of libido enhancing
drugs or nutrients for women but a couple of nutrients
shine when it comes to improving a woman’s love life.
Arginine is an essential amino acid. (Essential means your
body can’t make it, and you have to obtain it from foods.) In
supplement form it is known as “L-arginine.” L-arginine is the
main source of the primary molecule nitric oxide (NO), which
is responsible for sexual arousal in women. Without arginine,
there is no nitric oxide and no sexual arousal. In research on
women, L-arginine in supplement form has been reported to
increase the intensity of sensation during sex. That is because
NO stimulates blood flow to the genitals to lead up to orgasm.
Tribulus terrestris has been used as a prosexual herb for
thousands of years. Tribulus terrestris works in a special way in
women. One of luteinizing hormone’s (LH) many functions is
to command the production of testosterone. As a woman ages,
follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) increases dramatically, peaking
a few years after menopause and staying high for several
decades thereafter. The ratio of FSH to luteinizing hormone increases,
and LH does not have the same ability to increase testosterone.
Tribulus terrestris helps to naturally boost the levels
of luteinizing hormone to FSH, which then helps produce more
testosterone. Tribulus terrestris is both a libido enhancer (and
has been proven in multiple clinical trials in this regard) and
has an ability to increase testosterone to normal levels.
Clinical trials using Tribulus terrestris were performed at
the First Obstetrical and Gynecological Hospital in Sofia, Bulgaria
on 150 women with abnormal ovulation associated with hormone imbalances. One group of
women were given tribulus terrestris with
a high percentage of the active ingredient
protodioscin. They also had a group of
women that received estrogens and testosterone
only, with no Tribulus terrestris.
The study resulted in a normalization of
ovulation, improved fertility, a reduction
in peri- and postmenopausal symptoms.
Most importantly Tribulus terrestriswas
found to provide better results in women
in regards to increasing libido than the
hormone therapy alone.
Ginkgo biloba has been used in several
clinical trials in women with low libido.
One trial found that women on anti-depressant
medications, which can cause
sexual dysfunction including low libido,
had their libido improve and orgasms return.
Another study, published in Advances
in Therapy in 2000, found that study
participants using Ginkgo biloba reported
having significant increases in sexual desires,
had intercourse more often, had
more sexual fantasies, and were able to
Other research studies have shown
Ginkgo biloba to be a major aid in improving
blood flow to small blood vessels. Enhancing
blood flow to the genitals heightens
sexual sensations. Research has also
shown that Ginkgo biloba significantly increases
mental acuity and memory—and
sexual desire starts in the brain. Look for
Ginkgo biloba extract that is standardized
to 24 percent Ginkgo flavonglycosides and
6 percent terpene lactones.
For women, the neurotransmitter that
sends sexual messages to the nerves,
called acetylcholine (ACh), is also a very
important part of sexual function. Too little
ACh and sexual activity goes down; increase
ACh levels and sexual activity goes
up. ACh is involved in the build-up toward
orgasm and the urethral and vaginal
contractions that occur during orgasm,
as well as the subjective perception of
orgasm intensity and duration. Female
rat studies have shown that when ACh
is increased, female rats seek out male
rats and are receptive to them. Choline
bitartrate, along with vitamin B5, helps to
enhance acetylcholine, thereby enhancing
Eurycoma longifolia, also known as
Malaysian Ginseng, is the missing ingredient
in helping women’s libido. This potent
herb brings the zest back in your sex
life and aids vaginal dryness. Published
research has been performed in male
mice and men. To date no published research
has been completed in women or
in female mice.
Testimonials from women using Eurycoma
longifolia have reported that they
are finally having orgasms again, and that
the orgasms they are having are longer
and more intense. Women have reported
to us that they are waking up in the middle
of the night with strong orgasms. The
combination of Eurycoma longifolia, L-arginine,
vitamin B5, choline, and Gingko
biloba has been on the market in Canada
for over two years. This combination is
reported to have them thinking about
sex again. The added benefit of increased
vaginal lubrication has them more comfortable
while they’re doing it as well.
Lubrication occurs during arousal in
most women. But for some, due to
hormones out of balance, stress, performance
anxiety, and/or prescription
medications, lubrication just does not
happen. If you are moaning from pain
due to inadequate lubrication during sex or you can’t get excited because of lack
of lubrication—there are signals sent to
the brain when you start to notice lubrication
that further promotes arousal—then lubricants are a great solution.
Drugstores, health food stores, and
Web sites sell vaginal lubricants. Some
have stimulants in them like peppermint
or menthol and are called warming
lubricants. These are used to enhance
sexual pleasure and orgasm.
Other lubricants contain herbal extracts
to aid dryness and soothe the vagina.
Oil based lubricants are not safe to use
with condoms. Oil-based lubricants
can cause the vagina to harbor bacteria.
Never use petroleum jelly. Look for
water-based formulas. Always test the
lubricant on your skin before applying
it to your sensitive genitals. If any rash,
redness, or irritation occurs do not apply
to the genitalia.
Vaginal bioidentical estriol cream (not
Estradiol) for hormonally related symptoms
of vaginal dryness, vaginal atrophy,
urinary incontinence, burning, and urinary
frequency is often recommended.
Even with the use of vaginal estriol cream
for these symptoms, you will also want
to add a lubricant for sexual intercourse.
Vaginal dryness can also occur at different
stages of the menstrual cycle (right
after the period or just before), during
pregnancy, when breast-feeding, or when
using a condom.
Your Lubricant Should Be:
- latex friendly
- non-staining and non-toxic
- designed to be soothing and not disrupt normal vaginal pH balance
- pleasant tasting or have no taste
- providing lots of lubrication that does not get sticky over time
- free of parabens, toxic preservatives, mineral oil, animal products or petroleum ingredients
Most women think a lube is for use
only during intercourse, but a lubricant
should be used throughout the day if
you have vaginal dryness, in order to
prevent infections, itching, burning,
heat, and pain from the dryness. That is
why it is important to select a lubricant
that has no odor and does not stain your
Exercise for More Testosterone
The best way to enhance testosterone
is to exercise. This hormone of desire is
essential for maintaining muscle tone,
stamina, and strength. Testosterone
starts to naturally decline in women over
the age of 40 who do not exercise regularly.
This is about the time you notice
that slow slide in muscle tone, with your
breasts racing to meet your waist. Testosterone
increases your metabolism—how quickly your body burns food as
fuel—so you burn fat faster. Testosterone
also makes women feel sexy and strong.
Blood levels of testosterone increase with
just 20 minutes of exercise and remain
elevated for up to three hours after.
If you miss your libido and want it back,
find out more in Sexy Hormones by
Lorna R. Vanderhaeghe, M.S. and Alvin