Here's Why Libido Supplements Aren't Always the Answer For Boosting Sex Drive
Editor’s Note: We at POPSUGAR recognise that people of many genders and identities have female sex organs. For this particular story, experts generally referred to people with female sex organs as women.
Amidst the sea of powders, capsules, and gummies on the market said to help with things like stress, sleep, and skin health, there are also over-the-counter supplements marketed to support sex drive and arousal. Perhaps you’ve seen them in the supplement aisle at your local grocery store or in an ad while scrolling through social media. Typically, these products are made with a mix of natural ingredients, herbs, and minerals.
If you’ve been looking for ways to give your own libido a boost, you may very well be intrigued. Ahead, get expert input on if these products could have a positive effect on sex drive, a breakdown on some common ingredients found in these supplements, and what you need to know before adding any supplement into your diet.
Can Libido Supplements Increase or Benefit Your Libido?
That answer unfortunately isn’t so simple, as there are many reasons someone might be experiencing a low libido.
According to Kelly Culwell, MD, a board-certified ob-gyn, lack of sex drive in people with female sex organs can be impacted by a variety of different factors, like overall health, medications, relationship issues, stress, past experiences, and more.
“There are physical conditions and/or physiologic factors that can lead to lack of sex drive, which may have the potential to be addressed with medications/supplements, but there is no ‘one size fits all’ treatment that works for all women who are experiencing decreased sex drive,” she said.
Lauren Manaker, MS, RDN, LD, a registered dietitian, and author of Fueling Male Fertility, shared a similar sentiment.
“Low libido can be a result of so many factors, so it is hard to say that one supplement will work for every single person who has a low sex drive,” she said. “While some people have a low libido due to hormonal reasons, others feel these effects due to psychological factors and more. Some supplements can certainly help some people. All? Unlikely.”
What Types of Ingredients Are in Libido Supplements?
While not every product has the same ingredients list or formula, you may have noticed that several over-the-counter libido supplements out on the market now are made with herbal ingredients that are considered to be adaptogens, like maca and ashwagandha.
According to Manaker, adaptogens help the body adapt to stress. As you may know, stress can negatively affect sex drive. This fact, therefore, may explain why adaptogens make the cut in so many of these products. In Manaker’s words: “Who is really in the mood when they are totally wound up?”
Other natural ingredients that are typically found in these products are described by brands to address factors like energy, mood, stimulation, and blood flow.
While some over-the-counter supplements are made with ingredients that may help support the libido, Manaker said many products provide “the ingredients in a subclinical dose.” She explained that this means the ingredient may not be included in the formula in an amount to offer any benefit.
Should You Speak With Your Doctor Before Adding Libido Supplements to Your Routine?
Before taking any supplements, Dr. Culwell suggests speaking to a doctor about your sex-drive concerns. “Some supplements can interfere with prescription medications or worsen existing medical conditions, so it is best to always discuss supplement use with your healthcare provider,” she added.
In addition to determining if the over-the-counter libido supplement is safe for you to take, a healthcare provider can also help you determine if your low sex drive is the result of another medical condition or any medications you may be taking.
“Endocrine problems like hyperthyroidism or hyperprolactinemia can cause lack of sex drive, as can high blood pressure, neurologic conditions like Parkinson’s or multiple sclerosis, and mental health conditions such as depression or anxiety,” Dr. Culwell said. “Medications used to treat these conditions may also have side effects that include decreased sex drive.”