Supplements and Foods For Female Libido

Natural remedies for females sexual dysfunciton- DHEA, Gingko, L-Arginine, Damiana

Verywell / Anastasia Tretiak

Research shows that 40% of women experience sexual dysfunction, persistent or recurring problems during any stage of the sexual response.

Low libido is the most common type of sexual dysfunction in women. It refers to a reduction in the desire to engage in sexual activity.

This article looks at some supplements and foods that may boost female libido. It also discusses the safety of these supplements, nutrition, and other ways you might be able to increase your sex drive.

Causes of Low Libido

Low libido can have several causes, both internal and external. Stress, low self-esteem, relationship issues, and a lack of sleep can all contribute to reduced libido. Alcohol and drug use can negatively affect your libido as well.

And some medications can contribute to a low sex drive. Common offenders include:

  • Antidepressants, in particular, Celexa (citalopram), Prozac (fluoxetine), Paxil (paroxetine), Zoloft (sertraline), and Effexor (venlafaxine)
  • Opioid pain medications
  • Cholesterol-lowering medications called statins, such as Lipitor (atorvastatin)

If you are experiencing low libido while taking these medications, don't stop taking them abruptly, as this could cause side effects. Instead, ask your healthcare provider if switching meds could be beneficial. You'll likely be directed to taper off a medicine while adding a replacement gradually.

Some medical conditions can also lead to a reduction in your desire to have sex. Here's a quick overview of just a few of these.

Mental Health Disorders

Mental health disorders are one of the most critical risk factors for sexual dysfunction in women. Women with anxiety or depression often experience low sexual desire. And low libido is associated with depression symptoms like anhedonia (the inability to feel pleasure).


Impaired sexual functioning is extremely common after giving birth. Some reasons include fatigue, altered body image, stress, and pain during sex. Some studies have found that decreased sexual desire persists for at least six months after childbirth but typically returns to pre-birth levels after about a year.


During menopause, the ovaries stop making hormones that influence sexual desire, like estradiol, testosterone, and progesterone. When levels of these hormones drop during menopause, a woman's sex drive may also decrease.

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome

Large ovaries, hormonal imbalances, and irregular menstrual periods mark polycystic ovary syndrome. It's the most common endocrine disorder in women of reproductive age. One study showed that 99% of women with this condition also have a decreased libido.


A ten-year study of 652 women with type 1 diabetes showed that 57% experienced decreased libido. And a smaller study showed that about 50% of women with type 2 diabetes also had low sexual desire.

Other Medical Conditions

Other issues that can impact energy and libido include:

Getting treated for these underlying conditions may help improve your sex life.


Dietary supplements are not regulated like drugs in the United States, meaning the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not approve them for safety and effectiveness before products are marketed. When possible, choose a supplement tested by a trusted third party, such as USP, ConsumerLab, or NSF.

However, even if supplements are third-party tested, that doesn't mean they are necessarily safe for all or effective in general. Therefore, it is important to talk to your healthcare provider about any supplements you plan to take and check in about potential interactions with other supplements or medications.

Although many supplements are advertised as natural libido boosters, few have clinical trials to back up these claims. Most haven't been well studied. Generally, herbal supplements are unlikely to increase libido more than a sugar pill.

Here's the latest research on supplements that may have some benefits.


DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone) is a hormone produced naturally by the adrenal glands. In the body, it is converted to the hormones estrogen and testosterone.

DHEA supplementation may benefit premenopausal women with low libido and postmenopausal women with hypoactive sexual disorders.

In one study, 50 premenopausal infertile women took a DHEA supplement and reported on their sexual function. DHEA supplementation at doses of 75 milligrams daily seemed to improve desire, particularly in women who reported low sexual function at the beginning of the study. Of note, this study didn't include a placebo for comparison.

Another study found that low-dose (10 milligrams) supplementation of DHEA for one year in postmenopausal women helped improve sexual function and frequency of sex.

But just because it occurs naturally in the body doesn't mean DHEA is safe for everyone. For instance, people with hormone-sensitive cancers such as breast or ovarian should not take DHEA because it is converted into estrogen. Taking DHEA long-term or in doses higher than 100 milligrams per day may increase your risk of cancer. And using DHEA for several months may increase testosterone and cause unwanted side effects like facial hair growth or acne.

Vitamin E with Ginseng

A clinical trial of 62 women studied the effects of a combination of vitamin E, Korean ginseng, and Eleuthero on libido. At the end of six weeks, the women who took the supplement had an increase in sexual desire-- but there wasn't a difference in overall sexual function between women taking the supplement and those taking a placebo.

Because three supplements were combined in this trial, knowing which was beneficial for libido is impossible. More data is needed.


A study of 116 postmenopausal women found that zinc supplementation increased testosterone levels and improved sexual desire and other aspects of sexual function.

Damiana extract, herbs, and capsules

Verywell / Anastasia Tretiak

Not Recommended

Supplements are generally not recommended during pregnancy or breastfeeding because there's insufficient information to know if they're safe.

In addition, some herbal supplements commonly touted for increasing libido are not recommended due to safety concerns.

Yohimbe, in particular, is not recommended due to serious health risks. Severe side effects are more common at doses of 20 milligrams (mg) or higher, including high blood pressure, anxiety, agitation, rapid heart rate, heart attack, heart failure, and death.

Supplement use should be individualized and vetted by a healthcare professional, such as a registered dietitian, pharmacist, or healthcare provider. No supplement is intended to treat, cure, or prevent disease.


As with dietary supplements, little research suggests that eating certain foods might increase your libido. Some foods, however, have been used for centuries as aphrodisiacs, and proponents believe they can help. A few examples include:

  • Dark chocolate
  • Strawberries
  • Raw oysters
  • Coffee
  • Honey

Enjoying a chocolate-dipped strawberry or two is unlikely to increase your sex drive. However, eating a balanced diet, getting adequate rest, and self-care are crucial to improving overall health.

Also, remember that these foods may not be appropriate for people with particular eating patterns or dietary restrictions, for instance, those with diabetes or people who are vegetarian or vegan.

Staying hydrated is also essential for general wellness and vaginal lubrication, which may improve aspects of your libido.

Other Ways to Boost Libido

Because libido can be affected by many external factors, increasing it with simple lifestyle changes may be possible.

Manage Stress

Chronic stress can cause your libido to nosedive, so finding ways to manage stress is crucial. A few examples of these techniques include:

  • Yoga
  • Exercise
  • Massage
  • Mindfulness
  • Time in nature
  • Asking for help where you need it most

Additionally, try to cut down on alcohol, tobacco, and recreational drugs. These are all known to contribute to sexual dysfunction.

Since reducing your stress is not always possible, discussing your symptoms with a psychologist or psychiatrist can help you learn strategies to manage your stress.

Get More Sleep

Research has shown that sleep deprivation is associated with a decreased sexual response in women. And interestingly, getting more quality sleep may increase sexual desire and arousal the following day.

If you aren't getting enough sleep, begin with sleep hygiene tips like setting a regular bedtime and sticking to it, even on weekends. If you have insomnia, speak with your healthcare provider. Certain conditions like obstructive sleep apnea that can interfere with your sleep are treatable. It is essential to know why you have poor sleep so you can work on getting the rest you need.

Check With Your Healthcare Provider

While a nutrition and self-care-first approach is essential, check with a healthcare provider first. This way, you won't miss critical underlying issues, such as Hypoactive Sexual Desire Syndrome, which needs to be addressed by a healthcare provider.

If pain during intercourse contributes to your low libido, talk to your gynecologist about a pelvic exam and options. And ask if a referral to a sex therapist is proper for you.


Low libido can have many causes, including stress, lack of sleep, and medication use. Certain medical conditions can also contribute to the problem.

There's limited evidence that some dietary supplements may help improve libido. Use these with caution, however. There is no way to know for sure that they are safe. Supplements, like prescription and over-the-counter drugs, are not strictly regulated for safety and effectiveness by the FDA.

You may also have luck with lifestyle changes like stress management and getting plenty of sleep.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What supplements can increase a woman's libido?

    There isn't much scientific evidence that supplements can improve female libido. Some limited research has shown modest benefit for DHEA, vitamin E with ginseng, and zinc, but more robust clinical trials are certainly needed before these can be routinely recommended.

  • What are some causes of a low libido in women?

    Libido can ebb and flow over a woman's lifetime, and low libido can be attributed to many factors. Stress, lack of sleep, medical conditions like depression or a hormonal imbalance, and certain medications can all reduce libido. Menopause is also closely linked with a reduced sex drive.

  • Which antidepressants are associated with low female libido?

    Over 70% of women who take antidepressants also report low libido. Common classes of antidepressants called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) are highly associated with decreased sex drive. A few specific medications that are known to cause this are Celexa (citalopram), Prozac (fluoxetine), Paxil (paroxetine), Zoloft (sertraline), and Effexor (venlafaxine).

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Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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By Megan Nunn, PharmD
Megan Nunn, PharmD, is a community pharmacist in Tennessee with over twelve years of experience in medication counseling and immunization.