By Dr. Laurie Steelsmith and Alex Steelsmith
Do you feel like you need to recharge your libido and completely re-energize your sex drive? If so, you may be living in “Libido Limbo”–a term we coined in our recent book, Great Sex, Naturally, to describe a host of symptoms that can thwart your capacity for full arousal and healthy sexual expression. You’re not alone if you experience this condition at any stage of your life; diminished sexual energy is reported by many women, of all ages.
If you’re living in Libido Limbo, you probably want to know what happened to the high level of sexual energy you once knew. The good news is that there are numerous natural approaches that can help you overcome this condition, at any age, and reignite the sparks of desire. Here are five “samplers” from our book to help you get started in leaving Libido Limbo behind:
1. Use a natural personal lubricant. This can promote pleasure in two basic ways: first, by moistening your vaginal tissue a lubricant can facilitate more comfortable, enjoyable sex; second, some lubricants contain additional ingredients to create extra-stimulating effects. Since the receptive tissue of your vagina can directly absorb lubricants’ ingredients, you need to be savvy about which products are safest. Look for natural, organic ingredients, and avoid synthetic, potentially unhealthy compounds.
One wholesome example is Aloe Cadabra, which tops the list in Great Sex, Naturally. With 95 percent organic aloe vera, it’s water based, latex-friendly, and available in five scents and flavors. All have sex-enhancing, moistening properties, and some can further amplify pleasure with slight tingling sensations, arousing scents, and edible flavors. You can find Aloe Cadabra at CVS and select Whole Foods and Walgreens, or purchase it directly at www.Aloecadabra.com.
2. Do sex-enhancing exercises. Your PC muscle, one of your main pelvic muscles, tightens rhythmically with orgasm and boosts sexual pleasure. By keeping this muscle well-toned, you can help create more intense orgasms.
Kegels are the best-known exercises for strengthening your PC muscle and enhancing pleasure, but Ben Wa balls–spherical weights of different types and sizes, developed in ancient China–can take your PC muscle workouts to an entirely new plateau. Designed to be placed inside your vagina, with consistent use they develop your PC muscle because you have to keep it contracted to hold the balls in place. (You shouldn’t use Ben Wa balls if you have a vaginal infection, cervical or uterine cancer, or acute uterine or bladder prolapse. Also refrain if you’ve had vaginal surgery within six weeks, you’re pregnant, or you’ve given birth within six weeks.)
3. Balance your hormones to treat PMS. Maintaining your hormonal balance is essential for keeping your sexuality healthy and robust. One of the many ways to balance your hormones is by treating PMS. Many women, and many doctors, are unaware that PMS can often be prevented or treated. This is unfortunate, because the symptoms of PMS can impede your sex life. (The emotional symptoms alone can make you feel notably unsexy.) Among the most frequent causes of PMS symptoms are estrogen and progesterone imbalances; symptoms can be worsened by excessive estrogen in relation to lagging progesterone.
If you’d rather not take hormones, there are many ways to treat this imbalance naturally. One example, the herb Chaste-tree berry, can support your body’s own progesterone production. The usual dose: 175 mg of standardized powdered extract, or 40 drops of liquid extract, a day.
4. Consider using herbal aphrodisiacs. They can enhance sexuality by stimulating genital nerves, elevating levels of brain chemicals that promote receptivity to pleasure, boosting your nitric oxide level (which increases blood flow to your vagina, enhancing sexual response), and in many other ways.
One well-known example, Chinese ginseng, can mimic sex hormones, support hormone production, reduce vaginal dryness, and more. Women are often advised to take it long-term, to gradually strengthen libido, and along with other herbs; if taken alone, the usual dose is 200 mg, containing 7 percent ginsenosides, up to three times daily. Avoid taking it late in the day, and refrain altogether if you’re pregnant, lactating, have hypertension, or taking blood-thinning medications. Other herbal aphrodisiacs include catuaba, cordyceps, epimedium, rehmannia, reishi, and damiana. (These should be taken only with appropriate advice; see Great Sex, Naturally for detailed guidelines.)
One example, pumpkin seeds, can offer many health and libido-related benefits because of their high omega-3 fat content. Pumpkin seeds also contain L-tryptophan, a precursor to the neurotransmitter serotonin, which can impact your sexual health. The seeds can be blended into pumpkin seed milk, and they make a wonderful addition to cereals, salads, and trail mixes. And their source, by the way–pumpkins themselves–may influence sexuality in other unexpected ways: research shows that an aroma connected with pumpkins can stimulate a man’s sexuality. A study testing the effects of numerous scents on male sexual response found the greatest reaction to that of pumpkin pie combined with lavender. _________________________________________________________________________________ Dr.Laurie Steelsmith is a licensed naturopathic physician and acupuncturist, and coauthor of the critically acclaimed books Great Sex, Naturally and Natural Choices for Women’s Health. A leading spokesperson on the topic of natural medicine, she has appeared on CNN’s HealthWatch, and numerous other television and radio programs. She is frequently quoted in popular publications, and has presented hundreds of public lectures and seminars in the United States and abroad. A graduate of Bastyr University, Dr. Steelsmith has had a private practice in Honolulu since 1993. For more information, visit: www.DrSteelsmith.com.
Alex Steelsmith coauthored the critically acclaimed books Great Sex, Naturally and Natural Choices for Women’s Health. He is also the author or coauthor of more than 200 articles on health-related topics that have appeared in The Honolulu Advertiser, Nature & Health magazine, Healthy Living Today, Vision Magazine, Hawaii Health Guide, and many other publications. A fine artist as well as a writer, Alex also illustrated Great Sex, Naturally and Natural Choices for Women’s Health as well as a number of his articles. To learn more, visit www.AlexSteelsmith.com.
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