When a patient comes to see me, I ask two basic questions: How’s your energy and how’s your sex drive? When they tell me either of these aspects of their life has changed, I know immediately there’s a bigger health problem at play. Unfortunately, many people ignore these changes and simply accept them as normal or are embarrassed to seek professional help.
If this scenario sounds familiar to you, I hope you will take the steps to get your mojo back. Millions of adults experience sexual dysfunction — a problem that is at an all-time high. An extensive study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association reveals that about 43 percent of women and 30 percent of men experience symptoms of sexual dysfunction, including lack of desire, arousal issues, decreased lubrication, inability to orgasm, painful intercourse or lack of enjoyment.
If you think sex has fallen away simply because you’re getting older, are not in a relationship or haven’t had sex in a long time, think again. Pleasurable sex is something every adult should enjoy for a lifetime — with or without a partner. And remember, sex doesn’t mean intercourse alone. Masturbation and other forms of sexual play that get your hormones revving are definitely recommended.
Mind over matter: Bring sexy back through visualization
If you are like so many people suffering from lowered sex drive, the idea of jumping into an active sex life might be hard to imagine at this point. This can change, however. You can fuel sexual desire further with visualizations or small acts of intimacy. For instance, try thinking of positive words — like love, joy, peace, strength, happiness, beauty, etc. — even if you aren’t in a positive mood. Next, tailor this simple exercise by adding words you find sexy such as hot, sensual, sultry or touchable. Also, activities such as back rubs, foot rubs or date nights can be slowly introduced to further intimacy.
I encourage both women and men to investigate other ways to stimulate your sexual interests, including sex toys, books, DVDs, a class (i.e. tantric sex) and so forth. Many women are uncomfortable with the idea of visiting a sex shop, but there are safe, women-friendly stores you can visit. For example, I have referred patients to Come as You Are or Good For Her in Toronto, and both of these options offer online shopping as well. I also recommend the book Mating in Captivity by Esther Perel. Tantric sex classes or a couples massage course may also help to rekindle the desire.
Sex RX: Natural remedies for sexual concerns
Here are a few simple tips you can try to get your love life back in gear without turning to pharmaceuticals.
Concern: Low libido
Several supplements can be used to enhance the hormones related to sex drive for men and women. Two herbs in particular, maca and ashwagandha, have shown promise for increasing libido in both sexes. You can also consider taking a supplement with libido-boosting components (i.e. ginkgo biloba, zinc, horny goat weed), available at your health food store.
My previous supplement recommendations for increasing low testosterone or decreasing stress and high cortisol will also help get your love life back on track. If your concern is associated with menopause, look at these suggestions for balancing low progesterone and low estrogen, as well.
Concern: Vaginal dryness
Local use of an estriol cream or vaginal suppository can be very helpful. See your local compounding pharmacy or your health practitioner. Look for a personal lubrication that is free of harmful or irritating chemicals, such as glycerin, parabens, phthalates, petroleum, propylene glycol, synthetic fragrances and colours. Instead, select an all natural, water-based lubricant such as Hathor lube, which has libido-boosting properties including horny goat weed, jujube zizyphus and Siberian ginseng.