Rather curl up with a Jilly Cooper than create a romp of your own ? Our round-up of the hottest libido boosters will change that
Every so often you can’t get enough of him, but sometimes you’d rather veg out on the sofa with Simon Cowell (and not in that way). ‘There are lots of theories as to why women’s libidos fluctuate,’ says Dr Laura Berman, one of the world’s foremost sexual therapists and author of The Sex Bible (£16.99 Dorling Kindersley). ‘Scientifically speaking, the bulk of women get a surge of libido around the time they are ovulating, when testosterone – the sex drive hormone – spikes. But for others they want it more around period time.’ A study in Obstetrics & Gynaecology surveyed over 30,000 women and found that while low desire affected up to 40 per cent, only 12 per cent were bothered by it. ‘When it comes to sex drive, there is no such thing as ‘normal’ and your lack of sex drive is only a problem if it’s bothering you and straining your relationship,’ says Dr Berman. ‘But if you would like to want it more, there is plenty you can do.’
A study in Obstetrics & Gynaecology surveyed over 30,000 women and found that while low desire affected up to 40 per cent, only 12 per cent were bothered by it
1. Pump Up Your Hormones
One of the few medications that treat female low libido is the prescription only testosterone patch, but doctors have linked this with early onset breast cancer, so according to Dr Berman it’s not advisable unless your GP recommends it. But there’s good news. ‘Increased muscle tone boosts testosterone naturally and it’s created when you do any kind of resistance training,’ says Dr Berman. ‘The more muscle tone you have, the more natural testosterone your body generates and this can boost sex drive.’
READ MORE: Why women should lift weights
The more muscle tone you have, the more natural testosterone your body generates and this can boost sex drive
2. The Viagra effect
Viagra works by boosting blood flow to the genitals, helping men achieve and maintain an erection. But in women, increased blood flow can mean better orgasms too and according to Dr Berman, the naturally occurring amino acid L-Arginine has been shown to increase blood flow to the genital areas when applied topically, just before sex – leading to bigger, better satisfaction. A number of new orgasm super-gels containing L-Arginine have been launched recently.
Our favourite is Durex Intense Gel, £9.99 (in trials 79 per cent of women using it achieved orgasm) from pharmacies and Tesco.
READ MORE: Love or lust? What do you prefer?
3. Get French
Most doctors recommend we keep our pelvic floor in shape during pregnancy as the PC muscles are essential not only for childbirth but also for a satisfying sex life (these are the muscles we use to hold wee or wind in, running from the anus to the vagina). ‘Research shows that strong pelvic floor muscles can affect the tone around your vaginal wall,’ says Gill Brook a specialist women’s health physiotherapist. ‘If yours are not toned, you may feel less pleasure during sex and so too may your partner.’ In France, women are prescribed physiotherapy sessions (paid for by the State!) before and after childbirth with treatment targeted towards getting those PC muscles strong again and getting new French mums well on their way to making their next baby.
The Athena Toner is an amazing little (ahem) battery powered device – not sleazy and designed by doctors! – that you use for 15 minutes twice a day. Each session gives your PC muscles 180 contractions and within four weeks can vastly improve your ‘down-there’ tone. It’s £224.25 from athenafem.co.uk. If that sounds too scary, Gill Brook suggests setting the alarm on your computer three times a day . ‘Whenever it goes off, do eight to ten squeezes. Imagine you’re holding in a wee or wind and hold for a long as you can – up to ten seconds,’ advises Brook. ‘If you have concerns about your pelvic floor muscles and an inability to orgasm after childbirth, speak to your midwife or GP as you may be entitled to physiotherapy that can help strengthen your PC muscles.’
READ MORE: The beginner’s guide to BDSM
4. Do something crazy
‘Testoterone has been studied for years as the big sex-boosting hormone,’ says Dr Berman. ‘But more recently scientists are talking about the role dopamine, a chemical that governs adventure and novelty centres in the brain, plays in sexual arousal. It now seems that dopamine-enhancing activities boost libido’. Anything that’s new, adventurous and different to your daily routine can boost dopamine which in turn boosts testosterone and sexual desire and libido. ‘Have sex in a different place,’ suggests Dr Berman. ‘It’s great if you can get to a romantic location that’s warm, safe and quiet, but just moving to a different room or surprising your partner by initiating sex at a time when you wouldn’t normally will increase both your levels of dopamine and boost desire.’
just moving to a different room or surprising your partner by initiating sex at a time when you wouldn’t normally will increase both your levels of dopamine and boost desire
5. The (all-natural) love drug
You probably don’t need us to tell you that stress is the biggest sex-drive dampener of them all. But you don’t have to take it well, lying down. ‘When people are stressed, they create increased amounts of the stress hormone cortisol,’ says clinical nutritionist Naomi Beinart. ‘Cortisol dampens sexual desire because it prevents our feel good brain chemicals from working as they should, for example serotonin and dopamine – both essential for sexual desire and a healthy libido. The herb Rhodiola Rosea has been researched for decades and can not only improve our bodies’ resistance to stress it can reduce levels of libido dampening cortisol in the body,’ she argues. Solgar Balance Rhodiola Complex Vegetable Capsules – Pack of 60 costs £9.39 for 30 from health food shops. Beinart recommends taking 1-2 capsules each morning before breakfast. You should feel results within four weeks.
you may think you want sex with all the bells on, when what you really need is sex that satisfies your physical and emotional needs by offering love and warmth rather than mere sensation.
6. Save the power games for work
Everyone plays the old emo blackmail occasionally and when it comes to sex that can mean anything from holding it back as punishment to giving it as a reward. But it’s a sexual downer. ‘Power games prevent good sex,’ says Val Sampson, co-author of How To Have Great Sex For The Rest Of Your Life (£10.99 Piatkus). ‘Point scoring, trading sex for other things or trying to control a partner through sex destroy real intimacy and lust.’ If this is something you recognize in yourself, Sampson has some tips to help stop power games tonight: ‘Be honest about your feelings,’ she suggests. ‘Manipulating your partner by lying or silence only leads to resentment. Allow yourself to think about what you need rather than what you want. For example, you may think you want sex with all the bells on, when what you really need is sex that satisfies your physical and emotional needs by offering love and warmth rather than mere sensation. Finally, stop trying to control the outcome of sex. Good sex comes from going with the flow of what is arousing and satisfying and not making sure your partner (or you) behaves in a certain way’.
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