Libido, or sex drive, is a complicated topic that is influenced by both physical and psychological components. Some reports indicate that over 40% of women and 30% of men have experienced some form of sexual dysfunction. These numbers skyrocket when the individual is over 50 years of age. If you understand the things that can and do affect your sex drive, you can begin to understand how to increase libido.
Lifestyle Changes to Increase Libido
When it comes to libido, your lifestyle can be your worst enemy! Here are some changes you can make today to increase your libido:
1. Limit alcohol
Alcohol in excess is a sedative. Drinking one drink before sex will not hurt and may help you relax. But more than that may simply decrease your libido and put you to sleep.
2. Quit smoking
Smoking causes blood vessels to restrict – including the blood vessels in a man’s penis. Decreasing the blood flow to that organ will decrease your chance of getting and maintaining an erection.
3. Keep fit
Staying healthy and maintaining an appropriate weight will help your libido in two ways. First, you will feel better about yourself and this positive self-esteem will make you feel sexy. Second, exercise and a healthy weight will help increase the blood flow to your sex organs.
4. Reduce stress
Mental or physical stress is a very common cause of diminished libido. Learn to relax by using meditation, yoga and other relaxation techniques. When your stress is low and your attitude is positive, you may find that your libido increases.
Foods to Increase Libido
There are many foods that can be tried to increase your libido. Some of the more common include:
Famous lovers throughout history have sworn by the aphrodisiac effects of oysters. Studies are beginning to show that there may be more fact than fiction to this belief. The high levels of zinc can help to increase libido. Dopamine, one of the natural elements in the body that controls libido, actually increases after eating oysters.
The folate (one of the B vitamins) in asparagus increases histamine production. Histamine found in asparagus is important in ensuring a high libido. Vitamin E in asparagus can also increase your testosterone.
The folic acid, Vitamin B6 and potassium in the avocado can increase you libido. For a man, the B6 may help increase testosterone. For a woman, potassium may help regulate the thyroid. For both genders, the result is an increase in libido.
Watermelon contains the amino acid citrulline which is one of the amino acids that causes blood vessels to relax. This relaxation can help to achieve and maintain a healthy erection.
High in zinc, vitamins B, C, D, E, and K, pumpkin seeds are a great way to increase testosterone and sperm production. As testosterone goes up, so does a man’s libido.
Another food with a long history of use as an aphrodisiac is chocolate. The phenylethylamine in chocolate is a potent neurotransmitter that has stimulant effects that makes you feel great. This finding is supported by studies that show that women who eat chocolate actually have a more active sex life than those women who do not.
7. Chili Peppers
The capsaicin in chili peppers causes the release of endorphins that are responsible for the feeling of pleasure and masking of pain. As the feeling of pleasure increases, your libido will also increase.
Herbal Supplements to Increase Libido
In addition to lifestyle adjustments and foods, there are a number of herbal supplements that may help to increase your libido. Before beginning any of these supplements, be sure to talk with your healthcare provider to verify that the supplements will not interfere with medications you might be taking.
Ginseng is a well-known and traditional aphrodisiac in Eastern medicine. This supplement increases the production of nitric acid and works much the same as some of the prescription products like Cialis and Viagra. Ginseng also seems to increase energy and endurance.
2. Black Cohosh
Black cohosh is an estrogen like product that can increase blood flow to a man’s penis. Because of the estrogen properties, black cohosh can also be used by women for PMS, hot flashes and night sweats. Controlling these symptoms may help a woman’s libido.
3. Chasteberry (Vitex)
This supplement is approved in Germany for women suffering from menstrual problems. When talking about libido, Chasteberry seems to work by increasing progesterone (one of the female sex hormones) and dopamine.
4. L-Arginine (Arginine)
An essential amino acid, L-Arginine boosts the production of nitric acid to increase blood flow to the penis. When used in conjunction with other drugs, L-arginine has been shown to improve sexual function. If you take blood pressure medicine, be sure to talk to your healthcare provider before starting this supplement.
Another traditional Eastern medicine, Ginkgo is another supplement that increases the effects of nitric acid. Since this supplement is well known for its ability to relieve depression, Ginkgo may also help enhance sexual function and pleasure.
A less well-known supplement, Yohimbe is an African extract that has been used as an aphrodisiac in the African culture. Some studies do show that Yohimbe may have a positive effect on erectile dysfunction.
Maca is a South American vegetable that is safe to eat and may provide aphrodisiac properties that will increase your libido.