Sexual desire in women tends to fluctuate through the course of life. This is natural, as a woman’s sex drive is influenced by both emotional and physical life changes that can include the quality of her relationship, pregnancy, menopause, or ill health. Common problems that affect mental health, such as high levels of stress, depression, or anxiety can also adversely impact libido levels. While low libido or the lack of sexual desire may not be life threatening, it can certainly threaten your relationship! After all, sexual intimacy is a vital component in any long term romantic relationship.
Fortunately, women with low libido levels can get treatment to overcome the problem. Unfortunately, many pharmaceutical treatments come with their own set of side effects and risks. For example, flibanserin, one of the most commonly prescribed drugs for a low sex drive in women, causes side effects like low blood pressure, nausea, dizziness, and weakness. Hormonal therapy also poses its own set of risks. For this reason, most couples prefer natural remedies for low libido, using diet and lifestyle changes or herbal and Ayurvedic female libido enhancers.
The Root of the Problem: Causes of Low Sex Drive in Women
The precise causes of a low sex drive can be hard to identify because of the complexity of the problem. Nevertheless, common causes can be classified into 4 broad categories:
- Physical – This could include anatomical anomalies or diseases that impede circulation or make intercourse painful. Certain prescription medications and illegal drugs can interfere with arousal and sexual desire. Similarly, excessive alcohol intake and smoking can also lower libido levels over time.
- Hormonal – Pregnancy, breastfeeding, and menopause can cause hormonal changes that adversely impact sex drive.
- Psychological – Mental health problems are often overlooked, but are the most common cause of low libido levels in both men and women. Common psychological causes of diminished sex drive in women include stress, depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, body image issues, and previous experiences of dissatisfactory sex or abuse.
- Emotional – Men are hardwired differently from women and often fail to recognize the connection between emotional closeness and sexual intimacy. As a consequence, a woman’s sex drive may plummet on account of lack of emotional connection, poor communication, a trust deficit, and frequent conflicts in the relationship.
Ayurvedic Recommendations for a Healthy Sex Drive
According to the ancient Ayurvedic text Charaka Samhita, a healthy sex life is one of the three pillars of wellbeing. The Vajikarana or Vrishya chikitsa branch of Ayurveda deals specifically with sexuality, addressing the use of aphrodisiacs and strategies to raise libido levels and virility. According to the Charaka Samhita, these natural treatments can help to treat several common sexual dysfunctions.
While there is a lack of modern scientific research to support all of the Ayurvedic recommendations, studies have confirmed the efficacy of some of these treatments and medications. Here are some of the best herbs and natural remedies for a low sex drive.
Gokshura or Gokhru (Tribulus Terrestris)
Although we have a lot to learn about this promising Ayurvedic herb, preliminary studies have been encouraging. The ingredient has been found to enhance libido levels in animal studies, with following studies in humans also showing similar benefits. The herb may help to treat erectile dysfunction, but more importantly helps improve a woman’s sex drive.
Although researchers are not certain about the mechanism of action, we do know that gokshura increases the density of androgen receptors in the brain. This action is thought to contribute to its libido enhancing property.
Ashwagandha (Withania Somnifera)
According to Ayurveda, ashwagandha is one of the most potent remedies for low libido levels, with sexual desire increasing within just 3 days of treatment. Clinical studies so far have also demonstrated antidepressant and neuroprotective benefits. However, a pilot study that supports the use of ashwagandha in the treatment of sexual dysfunction in women explained how the herb could help.
They believe that the stress reduction and testosterone boosting effects of ashwagandha work together to alleviate a low sex drive in women. This is because both stress and low testosterone levels are often factors contributing to low libido levels in women.
Shatavari (Asparagus Racemosus)
Shatavari is one of the most widely used herbs in Ayurveda and is regarded as a powerful female tonic. It is often used in the treatment of female infertility, but is also recommended to boost libido. The herb is believed to have an anti-inflammatory effect on the sexual organs, also promoting healthy ovulation and folliculogenesis.
As pointed out by authors of the paper, “Plant profile, phytochemistry and pharmacology of Asparagus racemosus (Shatavari): A review”, Shatavari has immense potential in medicine today. This is why it has also attracted the interest of several pharmaceutical companies.
Ayurvedic Formulations & Supplements for Female Libido Enhancement
Although there are plenty of supplements and Ayurvedic products that may help increase female sexual desire, it is advisable that you look specifically for those containing herbs with a proven record, like the ones mentioned above. To make life simpler for you, here are some of the most effective formulations and supplements containing extracts from herbs like gokshura, ashwagandha, and shatavari.
You can purchase all of these products and more right here. However, make sure that you follow dosage recommendations as instructed. It is also advisable that you consult a doctor for appropriate dosage and to make sure that the product is suitable for your dosha type and health condition.
In addition to the use of herbal formulations, supplements, and other home remedies to boost libido, it is also advisable that you make changes to your lifestyle and diet. This means following a disciplined lifestyle in rhythm with your natural body clock – fixed meal and sleep timings. In addition, you need to focus on eating natural foods, while limiting the intake of processed foods. It is also important that you quit smoking and limit your intake of alcohol. Lower those stress levels with meditation and yoga, and try get off your couch and stay active.
If you start to experience any other symptoms or find no relief even after trying these remedies, it is strongly recommended that you consult a doctor, as your condition could be indicative of something far more serious.
Flibanserin. (2015). AHFS Consumer Medication Information [Internet]. Bethesda (MD): American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, Inc., Retrieved March 14, 2018, from https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a615040.html
Chauhan, N. S., Sharma, V., Dixit, V. K., & Thakur, M. (2014). A Review on Plants Used for Improvement of Sexual Performance and Virility. BioMed Research International, 2014, 868062. http://doi.org/10.1155/2014/868062
Akhtari, E., Raisi, F., Keshavarz, M., Hosseini, H., Sohrabvand, F., Bioos, S., … Ghobadi, A. (2014). Tribulus terrestris for treatment of sexual dysfunction in women: randomized double-blind placebo – controlled study. DARU Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences, 22(1), 40. http://doi.org/10.1186/2008-2231-22-40
Gupta, G. L., & Rana, A. C. (2007). Protective effect of Withania somnifera dunal root extract against protracted social isolation induced behavior in rats. Indian J Physiol Pharmacol, Retrieved March 13, 2018, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18476388
Bhatnagar, M., Sharma, D., & Salvi, M. (2009, November). Neuroprotective effects of Withania somnifera dunal.: A possible mechanism. Neurochemical Research, Retrieved March 13, 2018, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19444606
Dongre, S., Langade, D., & Bhattacharyya, S. (2015). Efficacy and Safety of Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) Root Extract in Improving Sexual Function in Women: A Pilot Study. BioMed Research International, 2015, 284154. http://doi.org/10.1155/2015/284154
Alok, S., Jain, S. K., Verma, A., Kumar, M., Mahor, A., & Sabharwal, M. (2013). Plant profile, phytochemistry and pharmacology of Asparagus racemosus(Shatavari): A review. Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Disease, 3(3), 242–251. http://doi.org/10.1016/S2222-1808(13)60049-3