Diet & Nutrition

Increase your libido with six simple steps

Sex can lose its lustre for many reasons, ranging from hormonal hassles to stress, poor diet, boredom, medication and everything in between. Get your motor running with these tips.
Eat smarter
What you eat plays a big role in your sexual health. Zinc, in particular, is necessary for the release of hormones. Good sources include nuts, seeds, eggs, wholegrains, beans and lean meat.
Coenzyme Q10 can significantly raise energy levels, especially in older men and women. Rich dietary sources include liver, kidney and wholegrains.
A lack of B vitamins causes lethargy and irritability — not good news for your sex drive. Niacin (vitamin B3) is especially important, as it helps women feel ready for sex by dilating blood vessels. The richest food sources are meat, fish, eggs and cereals.
Other foods that improve circulation and therefore help move blood towards the genitals include chillies, ginger and curry.
Manage stress
Being overscheduled can significantly dampen your sex drive, due to the damaging effects of the stress hormone cortisol, which blocks sex-hormone receptors and makes you tired.
Stress also throws oxytocin — the "love hormone" that promotes bonding and nurturing feelings — way out of whack. It's crucial for your libido and your general health that you take time to relax, meditate and exercise.
Get herbal help
For some women with low libidos, depression may be the culprit; for others, herbs that balance hormones may help.
Ayurvedic practitioners prescribe the herb tribulus to increase energy and heighten sexual awareness. Research suggests that it also relieves menopausal symptoms.
Hormonal imbalances may be treated with chasteberry or damiana, which support testosterone levels, often too low in women with reduced sex drive, and ginkgo may improve peripheral circulation to the sex organs.
The Peruvian native maca root is said to nourish the endocrine glands, which are responsible for making sex hormones, while the Ayurvedic herb ashwagandha and the Chinese herbs ginseng and cordyceps act as adaptogens, helping to build up stamina.
Check your meds
Some drugs, including the contraceptive pill and some antidepressants, can cause a downturn in sex drive.
Women taking the pill may also have low levels of vitamin B6, and this further reduces sex drive because it is needed in the formation of dopamine and serotonin, brain chemicals involved in pleasure, sensation and mood.
Ask your doctor about possible side effects of drugs, and consider taking vitamin B6.
Try a (sex) toy story
Couples who laugh together are more satisfied with their relationship, sexual and otherwise. Experimenting with a sex toy can also lend a sense of humour and adventure.
The Rabbit — popularised by Sex and the City — is non-threatening and stimulates the clitoris and the G-spot.
Embrace your inner goddess
Convince your beloved to attend a weekend Tantra workshop, the ancient Indian practice of sacred sexuality and spirituality (think of those sensuous statues of intertwined Hindu gods and goddess), and learn how time-tested breathing practices, sexual positions and emotional healing techniques can help you reclaim your sex life.

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