Spark Up Your Love Life

Natural Ways to Boost Libido

Underlying health issues aside, a hectic schedule packed with work deadlines, kids’ sporting events and household chores can leave little time for intimacy. Letting that pattern go on too long can become a problem. “There’s a use-it-or-lose-it phenomenon that occurs,” says Dr. Anita Clayton, a University of Virginia psychiatry professor, neurologist and author of Satisfaction: Women, Sex, and the Quest for Intimacy.

Despite what hyper-seductive female media stereotypes suggest we believe, in the real world, 39 percent of women feel they lack sex drive, and nearly half experience some kind of sexual dissatisfaction, according to a survey of 32,000 women published in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology. About one in eight women are significantly distressed about it. “The truth is, many of us don’t have great sex lives,” confirms Clayton.

Sprout Pharmaceuticals introduced Addyi, aka filbanserin, last fall; the first prescription drug to address low libido in women. Some heralded the controversial medication as “the little pink pill,” seeing it as the female version of males’ blue Viagra pill, which a half-million men purchased in its first month on the market in 1998. Yet several months after its launch, only about 1,000 women had tried Addyi and many doctors declined to prescribe it, due to its lack of widespread efficacy and possible adverse side effects, including low blood pressure and fainting when combined with alcohol.

“This is a complex problem that requires a complex solution,” says Honolulu-based naturopathic physician Laurie Steelsmith, author of Great Sex Naturally: Every Woman’s Guide to Enhancing Her Sexuality Through the Secrets of Natural Medicine. “For most women, drugs are not the answer.” She notes that for men, boosting libido is largely a matter of boosting circulation and blood flow to the penis. But for women, desire for lovemaking stems from an interplay of emotional, interpersonal, hormonal and anatomical drivers that make lack of desire harder to “treat”.

The truth is that many simple, effective, non-drug approaches exist. As Boulder, Colorado, marriage therapist Michele Weiner Davis puts it, “There’s no reason why a woman wanting a more robust sex life cannot have one.”

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