What is Sexual Dysfunction in Women?
Sexual dysfunction refers to persistent or recurring problems during any stage of the sexual response (desire, arousal, plateau, orgasm, resolution) that prevents the individual or couple from experiencing satisfaction from sexual activity and causes distress.
Natural Remedies for Sexual Dysfunction in Women
Here are five natural remedies that are being explored for female sexual enhancement in women with sexual dysfunction:
DHEA (dehydroepiandosterone) is a hormone produced naturally by the adrenal glands. It is converted in the body to the hormones estrogen and testosterone. Levels of DHEA decline naturally with age and also with a condition called adrenal insufficiency. Both have been associated with low libido, which is why researchers have examined whether DHEA supplements can boost libido in these groups.
There is some evidence suggesting that DHEA may help older women. In one study, 280 women and men between 60 and 79 years were given DHEA (50 mg) or placebo daily for a year. There was a slight increase in testosterone and estrogen levels in women, and a significant increase in the libido and sexual satisfaction of women over 70 with DHEA use. No benefits were seen in women between 60 and 70 years. Two additional studies have found that DHEA boosted sexual arousal in older women. Not all studies on DHEA and libido have found a benefit, so more research is needed.
See more on DHEA.
Ginkgo biloba is a herb used for centuries in traditional Chinese medicine as a remedy for respiratory conditions, cognitive impairment, and circulatory disorders. In North America, it is most commonly used to improve cognitive function and memory in people with age-related cognitive decline and memory loss.
There has been some preliminary studies suggesting that ginkgo may also help people with sexual dysfunction related to antidepressant use. It was first investigated after an older man with sexual dysfunction due to antidepressant use decided to take ginkgo to improve memory. His sexual function improved noticeably, and his case caught the attention of researchers.
Studies to date, however, have not confirmed the effectiveness of ginkgo for antidepressant induced sexual dysfunction. For example, one small study examined the use of ginkgo or placebo in 37 people with antidepressant-induced sexual dysfunction. After two months, ginkgo was no more effective than the placebo in relieving symptoms. Larger, longer-term studies are needed.
For more information, read my article on Ginkgo.
L-arginine is an amino acid that has numerous functions in the body. It is needed by the body to make nitric oxide, a compound that helps to relax blood vessels and allow blood to flow through arteries.
Studies on L-arginine for sexual dysfunction in women have used a combination product, which makes it impossible to know if any improvement was due to the L-arginine or other ingredients in the formula.See more about L-Arginine.
The bark of the herb yohimbe (Pausinystalia yohimbe) was historically used as a folk remedy for sexual dysfunction. The active constituent in the bark is called yohimbine.
Studies have not found yohimbe to be effective for sexual dysfunction in women. Yohimbe is not recommended and is a potentially harmful herb with severe side effects. For more information on yohimbe, read the Yohimbe Fact Sheet.
Damiana (Turnera diffusa) is a herb used traditionally by the Mayan people of Central America to enhance sexual function in men and women. It is reported to be an aphrodisiac, stimulant, mood enhancer, and a tonic.
The use of damiana as an aphrodisiac is somewhat controversial because there is no scientific evidence that it works and yet it has been widely promoted as a sexual stimulant.
Check out my article on Damiana.
Baulieu EE, Thomas G, Legrain S, Lahlou N, Roger M, Debuire B, Faucounau V, Girard L, Hervy MP, Latour F, Leaud MC, Mokrane A, Pitti-Ferrandi H, Trivalle C, de Lacharriere O, Nouveau S, Rakoto-Arison B, Souberbielle JC, Raison J, Le Bouc Y, Raynaud A, Girerd X, Forette F. Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), DHEA sulfate, and aging: contribution of the DHEAge Study to a sociobiomedical issue. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 97.8 (2000): 4279-4284.
Ito TY, Polan ML, Whipple B, Trant AS. The enhancement of female sexual function with ArginMax, a nutritional supplement, among women differing in menopausal status. J Sex Marital Ther. 32.5 (2006): 369-378.
Kang BJ, Lee SJ, Kim MD, Cho MJ. A placebo-controlled, double-blind trial of Ginkgo biloba for antidepressant-induced sexual dysfunction. Hum Psychopharmacol. 17.6 (2002): 279-284.
Wheatley D. Triple-blind, placebo-controlled trial of Ginkgo biloba in sexual dysfunction due to antidepressant drugs. Hum Psychopharmacol. 19.8 (2004): 545-548.