Libido, or sex drive, naturally varies between individuals. Having a low sex drive is not necessarily a problem, but if a person wishes to boost their libido, they can try a range of effective natural methods.

Anxiety, relationship difficulties, health concerns, and age can affect libido. While low libido is not usually problematic, it can affect a person’s relationships and self-esteem.

This article examines some of the best ways that males and females can increase their libido using natural methods.

A note about sex and gender

Sex and gender exist on spectrums. This article will use the terms “male,” “female,” or both to refer to sex assigned at birth. Click here to learn more.

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High anxiety levels are a common barrier to sexual functioning and libido for males and females. This may be anxiety due to life stress or specific sex-related anxiety.

People with an intense work schedule, caring responsibilities, or other life stresses may feel fatigued and, as a result, have a low sexual desire.

Anxiety and stress can also make it more difficult for someone to get or maintain an erection, deterring a person from having sex. A 2017 review of erectile dysfunction in young men has suggested that depression and anxiety can result in reduced libido and increased sexual dysfunction.

People can take several steps to manage their anxiety and boost their mental health, including:

  • practicing good sleep hygiene
  • making time for a favorite hobby
  • exercising regularly
  • eating a nutritious diet
  • working to improve relationships
  • talking with a therapist

Many people experience a lull in sexual desire and frequency at certain points in a relationship. This may occur after being with someone for a long time or if a person perceives issues in their intimate relationships.

Focusing on improving the relationship can increase each partner’s sex drive. This might involve:

  • planning date nights
  • participating in activities together outside of the bedroom
  • practicing open communication
  • setting time aside for quality time with each other

Having better sexual experiences may increase a person’s desire for sex, thereby boosting their libido. In many cases, people can enhance their sexual experiences by spending more time touching, kissing, using sex toys, and performing oral sex. Some people call these actions outercourse.

For females, foreplay may be especially important. According to 2017 research, only around 18% of women orgasm from penetrative intercourse alone, while 33.6% report that stimulation of the clitoris is necessary for them to orgasm.

Good sleep can improve a person’s overall mood and energy levels, and some research also links sleep quality to libido.

A small-scale 2015 study of women suggested that getting more sleep the night before increased their sexual desire the next day. Women who reported longer average sleep times reported better genital arousal than those with shorter sleep times.

Learn more about the science of sleep here.

Following a nutritious diet can benefit people’s sex drive by promoting good circulation and heart health and removing specific foods that can decrease libido.

Metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular disease can affect physical sexual functioning. Polycystic ovarian syndrome can also affect hormone levels, disrupting libido.

Eating a diet rich in vegetables, low in sugar, and high in lean proteins can help prevent disorders that affect libido.

Read more on a healthy, balanced diet here.

There is little research into how effective herbal remedies are at improving sexual function in males and females, though some people may find them beneficial.

A 2015 review study states that there is limited but emerging data that the following herbal remedies may improve sexual function:

People should be wary of using herbal medications without their doctor’s approval. Some herbal products can interact with existing medications, and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate them as it does with medications. For this reason, their quality, purity, and safety remain unclear.

Regular exercise can help libido in many ways. A 2015 study of men undergoing androgen deprivation therapy, which lowers testosterone levels, found that regular exercise helped men cope with body image concerns, low libido, and relationship changes.

Learn more about exercise here.

Some scientists link overweight and having obesity with low sex drive and other factors related to reduced fertility. This may be due to hormonal factors, such as low testosterone concentrations.

Maintaining a moderate body weight can improve a person’s sex drive, both physically and psychologically. Eating a healthy, balanced diet and getting regular exercise can help achieve this, as well as boost a person’s overall energy levels.

Sexual desire is complex, with both psychological and physical components. Even when a person has a physical condition that affects libido, such as diabetes, improving the emotional and psychological response to sex can improve libido and sexual functioning.

Discover the best options for sex therapy here.

Therapy is an effective strategy for increasing low libido. Individual counseling can help address negative views about sex, self-esteem, and secondary causes of low libido, such as depression and anxiety. Relationship counseling can help some people work through factors affecting their sexual desire.

Various studies show that cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can also help to improve sexual dysfunctions. A 2018 trial involving 198 women found that CBT can play a positive and effective role in improving sexual relationships. In addition, a 2021 review concluded that CBT can help to treat erectile dysfunction alongside drug therapies.

People can find a suitable therapist in their area in the AASECT directory.

Smoking cigarettes can have a negative impact on a person’s cardiovascular system. Good heart health is important for good sexual functioning.

People who smoke cigarettes may find that their energy levels and sex drive increase after stopping.

Read these tips for giving up smoking.

Libido in males is often related to testosterone levels, which will naturally decline with age. Testosterone replacement therapy can help.

In men with testosterone deficiency or hypogonadism, testosterone replacement therapy can result in improved libido, reduced depression, and improved erectile function, according to one 2017 review.

There is little evidence to suggest that certain foods or supplements increase a person’s testosterone levels and sexual function. Some research suggests that zinc, vitamin D, and omega-3 fatty acids may be important dietary components for testosterone.

Learn more about foods that help boost testosterone here.

Sex-related hormones, such as estrogen and estrogen-like compounds, can also affect sexual desire in females.

Many females experience a dip in libido and sexual functioning at menopause, when estrogen levels drop. Estrogen replacement therapy may help some people.

Vaginal dryness is another symptom of menopause. Using lubricants during sexual activity can increase people’s enjoyment.

Certain birth control pills may also decrease libido. If a person suspects that their hormonal contraception is affecting their sex drive, they can speak with a doctor about changing pill type.

Learn all about the causes of low libido here.

If a person is concerned about decreased libido, a doctor can offer advice and information about potential causes and treatments. Doctors who are knowledgeable about alternative and complementary remedies may also help an individual choose natural remedies.

A person may wish to consult a doctor for low libido when:

  • it appears suddenly or without explanation
  • additional symptoms appear, such as high blood pressure or pain
  • it occurs after starting a new medication or having surgery
  • it causes serious relationship problems or psychological distress
  • sex is painful

There is a wide natural variation in people’s sexual desires and libido. It is important to note that having a lower libido than other people is not necessarily a problem.

However, if a person wants to increase their libido, many methods are available to try. These include eating a nutritious diet, getting regular exercise, reducing anxiety, and focusing on improving intimate relationships.

Low libido is a complex issue, with relationship, psychological, and physical components. Understanding the cause can help a person find the best treatment.

While low libido, or a sudden shift in libido, can be a sign of a health condition, it is safest to talk with a doctor before trying libido boosters.

Read the article in Spanish.