Supplements can be a powerful tool for helping you achieve your goals, especially when you follow a regimen that’s tailored to meet your specific needs. I’ve written about supplements a lot—you can read about some of my general favorites here, and I’ve also listed some of the best supplements for your heart and brain. Today I’d like to tackle the topic of sexual health with my top 5 supplements to increase sex drive. Don’t forget to check with your healthcare practitioner to make sure any supplement you are considering is safe for you given your medical conditions and medications.
Practitioners of Traditional Chinese Medicine have long relied on this root to enhance vitality, and Western science supports this use. According to LIVESTRONG, some experts believe Panax ginseng’s libido-lifting power comes from its ability to help the body adapt to stress. Research suggests ginseng may also improve sexual performance as well as sperm count and quality, meaning it can help with infertility. Ginseng also shows promise for treating erectile dysfunction. In a study where men who had been clinically diagnosed with erectile dysfunction were given either 900 mg of Korean red ginseng a day or a placebo, those who took ginseng experienced significantly better penetration, rigidity, and erection maintenance compared to the placebo group. Just remember that the type of ginseng with these effects is Panax ginseng (often called Chinese or Korean Ginseng). Panax ginseng is a different species with unique effects while Siberian Ginseng is a different plant altogether so be very careful when doing your shopping.
Maca is an herb with a history of use dating back to the Incas. Traditionally favored for its ability to enhance endurance and boost libido, this hearty plant that thrives in the extreme growing conditions of the Andes is also thought to improve fertility. Animal studies have found maca improves sperm quantity and quality, and may also act as an aphrodisiac for both men and women. As reported by Psychology Today, the effects of maca on sex drive have been thoroughly researched—with intriguing results. In one study, men who took three grams of maca per day for eight weeks showed improved sexual desire compared to those who took a placebo. Another study looking at the effect of maca on reduced libido caused by antidepressant medication found it enhanced desire and, in those who took a high dose, sexual function. Maca has also been found to help with erectile dysfunction. To that point, it’s even known colloquially as Peruvian ginseng.
Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) is a hormone produced in your body’s adrenal gland that aids in the production of testosterone and other hormones. Since testosterone is critical to healthy male sexuality, supplementing with DHEA may help with issues like sluggish libido and impotence. One double-blind, placebo-controlled study found men given 50 milligrams of DHEA every day for six months experienced improvement in symptoms of erectile dysfunction.
This essential trace mineral affects testosterone levels, and zinc deficiency has been linked to hypogonadism (low testosterone). Research suggests supplementing with zinc can help modulate testosterone levels, and it has also been shown to help with sexual competency and erectile dysfunction. The Mayo Clinic suggests men take 15 milligrams daily. Zinc can deplete your body of other nutrients and interact with medications, so check with a practitioner before you take it. And don’t overdo it—the National Institutes of Health (NIH) warns that taking high doses of zinc can cause diarrhea, vomiting, and other digestive discomfort.
Men’s Fitness says this herb is a popular ingredient in men’s health supplements thanks to its purported power to intensify arousal. They cite a study where participants who took fenugreek for six weeks experienced an impressive 82 percent increase in libido. In this same study, 63 percent reported stronger orgasms after taking fenugreek, with no negative side effects.
Wondering what others areas of your health could use your attention? Consider taking my Optimal Men’s Health quiz. It’s designed to help you determine your next best step to getting healthier and closer to winning.
About Myles Spar, MD
Myles Spar, MD, MPH is board-certified in Internal Medicine and in Integrative Medicine. As a clinician, teacher