Lost Libido? Supplements Can Help

If you don't have much interest in sex these days, you may worry that you'll never reclaim the passion and sexual desire you once had. You can't seem to recall just when you started feeling less than passionate, and wonder if you'll ever again enjoy a care and worry-free sex life.

If you're concerned, the first thing is to try to pinpoint the cause of a low libido, which  can vary from hormonal issues to poor dietary habits to medical conditions. It also can be caused by negative body image. Fortunately, there are many ways to get your sexual life back on track.

To start with, of course, eat a balanced diet, avoid stress, and get enough sleep, says Sara Nasserzadeh, Ph.D., a certified sexuality counselor. "Depression can also cause low sexual desire," she says. "If you are unhappy, your sex life will suffer."

If you think you may be depressed, she says, seek professional counseling.

Becoming more positive about your own body is also crucial to a good sex life, says Terri Orbuch, Ph.D., author of 5 Simple Steps to Take Your Marriage from Good to Great. "Research shows that individuals with high body satisfaction have more frequent sexual experiences and just feel more desirable," she says. "The more positive your body image, the greater your sexual satisfaction."

To increase positive feelings about your body, practice self-affirmation, Orbuch says. This can be as simple as being kind to yourself, she explains. It's also important to get yourself into the best health possible, and to focus on what you do well rather than always striving to be something you're not. "It's not your actual weight or height that's important, but how you feel about yourself," Orbuch says. "Feeling comfortable and confident about your body helps you develop a positive body image."

Will Supplements Help?

Finally, certain supplements are believed to increase your libido, says Barbara Bartlik, MD, assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City. "If a person is feeling low desire and having difficulty achieving orgasm, supplements can be helpful," she says. "One that is effective is tyrosine."

A nonessential amino acid that the body actually makes from phenylalanine, another amino acid, this is widely available at health food stores.  Phenylalanine itself also may be helpful sexually, Bartlik says.

Taking omega-3 fatty acids can also be helpful, Bartlik says, as these can increase your circulation and improve the nervous system. Propionyl-L-carnitine,  an amino acid that is produced in the body, is sometimes used to treat low sexual desire, Bartlik says. "And if you are going to take this, you also need to take alpha lipoic acid," she says. "They go hand in hand together."

As with any medications, be sure to check with your doctor before taking any supplements, and only buy from reputable, established companies. "Be careful about buying supplements, because some products contain contaminants and are misleading," Bartlik says.