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Libido

Libido is the spontaneity, frequency, and magnitude of sexual desire. Some supplements (falsely referred to as aphrodisiacs) are known to enhance libido or normalize a reduced libido seen in instances of sexual dysfunction.

Our evidence-based analysis on libido features 40 unique references to scientific papers.

Research analysis led by Kamal Patel.
All content reviewed by the Examine.com Team. Published: Jul 5, 2013
Last Updated:

Frequently Asked Questions about Libido

Do herbal aphrodisiacs work?
It depends on the product touted to be an aphrodisiac, but some of them do apparently increase sexual desire; it is a relatively under-researched topic though, and we don't know why they increase sexuality.
Supplements that could help rev up your libido
Most supplements marketed as "libido enhancing" are just hype. Very few, like Maca and cocoa extract, have evidence indicating they may help.
As a female, does orgasm affect my health?

Human Effect Matrix

The Human Effect Matrix looks at human studies (it excludes animal and in vitro studies) to tell you what supplements affect libido
Grade Level of Evidence
Robust research conducted with repeated double-blind clinical trials
Multiple studies where at least two are double-blind and placebo controlled
Single double-blind study or multiple cohort studies
Uncontrolled or observational studies only
Level of Evidence
? The amount of high quality evidence. The more evidence, the more we can trust the results.
Outcome Magnitude of effect
? The direction and size of the supplement's impact on each outcome. Some supplements can have an increasing effect, others have a decreasing effect, and others have no effect.
Consistency of research results
? Scientific research does not always agree. HIGH or VERY HIGH means that most of the scientific research agrees.
Notes
grade-b Notable Very High See all 3 studies
An increase in libido appears to occur following Maca ingestion, which is notable as it appears to influence all demographics and is not associated with systemic hormones
grade-b - Very High See all 3 studies
Insufficient evidence to support an increase in libido despite increases in androgen status
grade-b - Very High See all 4 studies
Although a potential benefit cannot be ruled out at this moment in time (the first pilot study showed promise and there are some responders), overall ginkgo does not appear to influence SSRI-induced sexual dysfunction in more well conducted trials.
grade-c Notable - See study
Increases in libido have been noted before, which is notable due to the lack of significant influence on testosterone and possible suppression of DHT (theoretically should reduce libido, yet a large increase is seen with fenugreek)
grade-c Minor - See study
Perhaps secondary to causing an antidepressive effect, supplementation of chromium was able to alleviate a suppressed libido resulting in an increase relative to control; no studies in nondepressed persons.
grade-c Minor - See study
An increase in libido is seen with prolonged daily ingestion of eurycoma supplements in the range of 8.4-10.8%
grade-c Minor - See study
May increase libido as a side-effect of reducing the symptoms associated with menopause, may not work inherently in youth or men
grade-c Minor Very High See all 5 studies
Most studies found an improvement in sexual desire in women reporting a general loss of libido. One study in men found an improvement. The research is still in its early stage and great confidence in these results would be unfounded.
grade-c - - See study
No significant influence on libido
grade-c - Very High See 2 studies
There do not appear to be any significant interactions with nicotine and libido
grade-c - - See study
There does not appear to be a significant influence of velvet antler supplementation on the libido

References

  1. Gonzales GF, et al. Effect of Lepidium meyenii (MACA) on sexual desire and its absent relationship with serum testosterone levels in adult healthy men. Andrologia. (2002)
  2. Zenico T, et al. Subjective effects of Lepidium meyenii (Maca) extract on well-being and sexual performances in patients with mild erectile dysfunction: a randomised, double-blind clinical trial. Andrologia. (2009)
  3. Gonzales GF, et al. Effect of Lepidium meyenii (Maca), a root with aphrodisiac and fertility-enhancing properties, on serum reproductive hormone levels in adult healthy men. J Endocrinol. (2003)
  4. Gonzales-Arimborgo C, et al. Acceptability, Safety, and Efficacy of Oral Administration of Extracts of Black or Red Maca (Lepidium meyenii) in Adult Human Subjects: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Study. Pharmaceuticals (Basel). (2016)
  5. Brooks NA, et al. Beneficial effects of Lepidium meyenii (Maca) on psychological symptoms and measures of sexual dysfunction in postmenopausal women are not related to estrogen or androgen content. Menopause. (2008)
  6. Petrone A, Gaziano J, Djoussé L. Effects of Dark Chocolate and Cocoa Products on Endothelial Function: A Meta-Analysis. Curr Nutr Rep. (2003)
  7. Adeniyi AA, et al. Yohimbine in the treatment of orgasmic dysfunction. Asian J Androl. (2007)
  8. Guay AT, et al. Yohimbine treatment of organic erectile dysfunction in a dose-escalation trial. Int J Impot Res. (2002)
  9. Gilbert DG, Hagen RL, D'Agostino JA. The effects of cigarette smoking on human sexual potency. Addict Behav. (1986)
  10. Harte CB, Meston CM. Acute effects of nicotine on physiological and subjective sexual arousal in nonsmoking men: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. J Sex Med. (2008)
  11. Harte CB, Meston CM. The inhibitory effects of nicotine on physiological sexual arousal in nonsmoking women: results from a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, cross-over trial. J Sex Med. (2008)
  12. McLeod AL, McKenna CJ, Northridge DB. Myocardial infarction following the combined recreational use of Viagra and cannabis. Clin Cardiol. (2002)
  13. Cui T, et al. A Urologist's Guide to Ingredients Found in Top-Selling Nutraceuticals for Men's Sexual Health. J Sex Med. (2015)
  14. Basson R, et al. Revised definitions of women's sexual dysfunction. J Sex Med. (2004)
  15. Salonia A, et al. Physiology of women's sexual function: basic knowledge and new findings. J Sex Med. (2010)
  16. Meston CM, et al. Disorders of orgasm in women. J Sex Med. (2004)
  17. Pfaus JG. Pathways of sexual desire. J Sex Med. (2009)
  18. Traish AM, et al. Androgens in female genital sexual arousal function: a biochemical perspective. J Sex Marital Ther. (2002)
  19. Kingsberg SA, Simon JA, Goldstein I. The current outlook for testosterone in the management of hypoactive sexual desire disorder in postmenopausal women. J Sex Med. (2008)
  20. Riley AJ. Life-long absence of sexual drive in a woman associated with 5-dihydrotestosterone deficiency. J Sex Marital Ther. (1999)
  21. Berglund H, Lindström P, Savic I. Brain response to putative pheromones in lesbian women. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. (2006)
  22. Savic I, et al. Smelling of odorous sex hormone-like compounds causes sex-differentiated hypothalamic activations in humans. Neuron. (2001)
  23. Miller SL, Maner JK. Scent of a woman: men's testosterone responses to olfactory ovulation cues. Psychol Sci. (2010)
  24. Hull EM, et al. Hormone-neurotransmitter interactions in the control of sexual behavior. Behav Brain Res. (1999)
  25. Meston CM, Frohlich PF. Update on female sexual function. Curr Opin Urol. (2001)
  26. Levine KB, Williams RE, Hartmann KE. Vulvovaginal atrophy is strongly associated with female sexual dysfunction among sexually active postmenopausal women. Menopause. (2008)
  27. Genazzani AR, et al. The European Menopause Survey 2005: women's perceptions on the menopause and postmenopausal hormone therapy. Gynecol Endocrinol. (2006)
  28. Maclaran K, Panay N. Managing low sexual desire in women. Womens Health (Lond Engl). (2011)
  29. Brown AD, Blagg J, Reynolds DS. Designing drugs for the treatment of female sexual dysfunction. Drug Discov Today. (2007)
  30. Safarinejad MR. Reversal of SSRI-induced female sexual dysfunction by adjunctive bupropion in menstruating women: a double-blind, placebo-controlled and randomized study. J Psychopharmacol. (2011)
  31. Stryjer R, et al. Trazodone for the treatment of sexual dysfunction induced by serotonin reuptake inhibitors: a preliminary open-label study. Clin Neuropharmacol. (2009)
  32. Brody S, Weiss P. Simultaneous penile-vaginal intercourse orgasm is associated with satisfaction (sexual, life, partnership, and mental health). J Sex Med. (2011)
  33. Brody S, Costa RM. Satisfaction (sexual, life, relationship, and mental health) is associated directly with penile-vaginal intercourse, but inversely with other sexual behavior frequencies. J Sex Med. (2009)
  34. Tao P, Brody S. Sexual behavior predictors of satisfaction in a Chinese sample. J Sex Med. (2011)
  35. Brody S. The relative health benefits of different sexual activities. J Sex Med. (2010)
  36. Effects of Mating on c-fos Expression in the Brains of Male Macaques.
  37. Rupp HA, Wallen K. Sex-specific content preferences for visual sexual stimuli. Arch Sex Behav. (2009)
  38. Polan ML, et al. Female sexual arousal: a behavioral analysis. Fertil Steril. (2003)
  39. Tsujimura A, et al. Sex differences in visual attention to sexually explicit videos: a preliminary study. J Sex Med. (2009)
  40. Park K, et al. Blood-oxygenation-level-dependent functional magnetic resonance imaging for evaluating cerebral regions of female sexual arousal response. Urology. (2001)