It doesn’t get talked about that often, but a low sex drive is the most common sexual complaint that affects millions of women, according to Sherry Ross, MD, OB-GYN and author of She-ology. Why doesn’t it get more attention? “Let’s face it: A woman’s sex drive is complicated and often challenging to understand,” Ross points out. Plus, there are many different factors that go into whether or not you’re in the mood, ranging from physical to emotional. Sometimes it can be tough to tell if something’s going on physically, or if you’re just not feeling it in a specific situation with a certain person. The good news is that there’s a lot you can do to bring your sex drive back that doesn’t require medication.
We polled top doctors to find out which natural treatments they’ve found most effective for treating low sex drive naturally. Here’s how to navigate your way back to a healthy libido.
What Causes Low Sex Drive?
Before you can figure out how to fix the problem, you’ve got to understand what might be causing it. As it turns out, there are a lot of different things that could cause you to have a low sex drive, experts say. “There is definitely a hormonal component because as women age, we start losing testosterone,” explains Bindiya Gandhi, MD, an integrative physician. “That causes a bunch of other issues, such as weight gain, decreased muscle mass, and of course, lower sex drive.” There’s also a metabolic component, she says, meaning your diet could potentially be a factor.
Lastly, and probably most importantly, is the mental component. “Women’s sexual desire and appetite begins in that great organ above the shoulders, rather than the one below the waist,” Ross says. “The daily stresses of work, money, children, relationships, and diminished energy are common issues contributing to low libido in women.” Other things that could factor in are depression, anxiety, lack of privacy, and medical conditions like endometriosis or arthritis.
Focus on Healthy Fats
An overall healthy diet will help keep hormone levels in check, but in particular, it’s a good idea to make sure you’re getting enough fat. “Testosterone is a derivative of cholesterol, so you need to ensure you’re eating foods with healthy fat like chia seeds, walnuts, and salmon,” says Gandhi. Monounsaturated fats like coconut oil, MCT oil, eggs, and avocados are also great sources of the good stuff.
Give Supplements a Try
Hormone therapy is a game changer for women struggling with low libido, but there are some supplements that may help if you don’t want to go straight for that option. “Prior to taking any supplements, I recommend a comprehensive blood test to find the root cause of the issue,” says Cecilia Lacayo, MD, functional medicine expert at the Biostation. Once you’ve gotten a full evaluation, your doctor can tell you which supplements might help. “Some supplements I utilize in my practice to help boost sex drive are Maca, L-Arginine, and B-complex injectables,” Lacayo says. Gandhi notes that ashwagandha may also be worth a try since it controls stress and may increase testosterone in women.
On a similar note, “stress plays a huge role in libido,” Gandhi says. “It affects your mood, desire, and ability to achieve orgasm.” In order to fix it, she recommends experimenting with different techniques to figure out what works best for you. “Yoga, breathing exercises, and meditation can help you deal with the stress in your life.”
Talk It Out
If you’re in a relationship, part of the solution could be as simple as getting real with your S.O. about what you’re going through. “The most natural method to improve a woman’s sex drive is having a close connection— emotionally, mentally, and physically— with her partner,” Ross says. “Having good communication with your partner is the best foreplay a woman could ask for.”
Simply put, “no one wants to have sex when they’re tired,” says Angela Jones, MD, an OB-GYN and Astroglide’s resident sexual health advisor. “It becomes less enjoyable and more of a chore. Make sure you are giving your body all that it needs to do what it was created to do. An adequate amount of sleep is part of that.”
“Exercise is the perfect prescription for so many medical conditions, sex included,” Ross says. “Women who do moderate to vigorous aerobic exercise show an increase in libido and sexual performance.” You can thank endorphins for that benefit, she says. Plus, exercise has been shown to improve body image. “Self-image and confidence go a long way. When you feel better about the way you look you will be more likely to want to have sex,” Jones notes.
Head over to our wellness verticle THE/THIRTY for more health and well-being advice.