About one in five men and women report low sex drive in the U.S. — and those numbers are almost certainly underreported. Low libido can prevent you from making a meaningful sexual connection, weigh heavily on your mind, and stand between you and your best quality of life. Male and female libido boosters and supplements may restore some peace of mind.
In a 2018 review of women in the U.S., 70% said sexual dysfunction led to other various challenges, including body image issues and a loss of connection to their partner.
Here’s everything you need to know about taking vitamins for libido, the best men’s and women’s supplements for libido, and lifestyle changes that can boost your libido as well.
Best Male and Female Libido Boosters
Hormones play an essential role in your sexual desire. Both male and female sex hormone levels naturally decline with age, which can profoundly impact your sex drive. Identifying and optimizing low sex hormone levels is often the most reliable method to manage low libido.
1. Estrogen Replacement: The Best Women’s Libido Booster
One of the most effective female libido boosters is estrogen replacement. Physicians often prescribe this hormone therapy to improve low estrogen levels. A drop in estrogen before and during menopause can reduce your interest in sex. It can also cause physical symptoms like vaginal dryness that can make sex uncomfortable and even painful.
Estrogen replacement can improve libido in women, according to a 2016 study. Estradiol cream may function as a women’s libido booster, improving lubrication and helping to alleviate painful intercourse.
2. Testosterone Replacement: Key Libido Booster for Men
Testosterone supplementation is often the best libido booster for men. Testosterone interacts with different parts of the male brain, testes, and penis to stimulate sexual arousal and its physical effects (like sustaining an erection). As testosterone reduces during aging, so can a man’s sex drive.
You can support testosterone with the following prescriptions:
3. Estradiol: Not Just For Women
In both men and women, estradiol, one of the main estrogens in the body, plays a powerful role in supporting healthy libido. In men, estradiol modulates sex drive, sperm production, and erectile function.
4. DHEA: Men’s and Women’s Supplement for Libido
Supplementing DHEA — a vital precursor hormone that your body uses to make testosterone and other hormones — may improve libido in men who have testosterone deficiency. DHEA may also work as a powerful female libido supplement for those experiencing postmenopausal hormone changes.
Disclaimer: These statements have not been evaluated by The Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
Check Before You Supplement
It’s important to understand your hormone levels before using products to boost testosterone or estrogen. Speak to a physician and have them run a blood panel like the Lifeforce Diagnostic to check your current hormone levels before you boost your libido with hormonal supplements.
“A full blood panel can rule out hormonal causes of low libido,” says Lifeforce Medical Director Vinita Tandon, MD, “as well as cardiovascular and metabolic health biomarkers including cholesterol, hs-CRP, and hemoglobin A1c. This ensures that there are no underlying medical issues that could be contributing to a decrease in desire.”
Vitamins for Libido
You can use vitamins to increase libido to some degree, though the effects are less pronounced than by directly providing testosterone or estrogen. Certain supplements and vitamins can help you maintain optimal hormone levels and manage health conditions like depression or correct nutrient deficiencies that could be interfering with your sex drive.
Zinc is a nutrient that helps your body make key sex hormones, and a zinc supplement may be a simple but effective female libido booster. A 2021 randomized controlled trial found that zinc improved orgasm, arousal, sexual desire, vaginal mucosa, and pain levels in postmenopausal women.
While more research is needed on zinc and male sex drive, a 2009 study found that a medium dose of zinc improves testosterone levels and sexual performance in male rodents.
6. Vitamin D
A 2016 study linked low vitamin D in women to lower self-reported scores for sexual desire, orgasm, and satisfaction. A 2018 study found similar effects in male sexual desire, erectile function, and orgasm, so vitamin D may be a libido booster for women and men alike.
Several early studies in a 2018 review found that the amino acid L-arginine can be an effective libido booster for women, both in isolation and combined with other supplements. L-arginine may also directly manage erectile dysfunction, as it may help to promote blood flow in the penis.
According to a 2021 review, many people who suffer from depression have abnormally low magnesium levels. Since depression can affect your sex drive, magnesium supplementation may improve your depression symptoms and, by association, help to restore your sex drive.
Lifestyle Libido Boosters
As you age, a complex interplay of factors can affect your libido. “The more common reasons are psychological and physiological,” says Dr. Tandon. “A decline in hormones, acute or chronic medical issues, relationship issues, stress, sleep deprivation, erectile dysfunction, and anorgasmia can all cause low sex drive.”
While hormone support and certain supplements can be potent libido boosters, there are several lifestyle changes you can use to build a more fulfilling, active love life.
9. Practice Relaxation Techniques
“Stress can prevent you from feeling turned on, block emotional connections with others, and prevent adequate blood flow to the erogenous zones,” says Dr. Tandon. Several survey and lab-based studies have linked chronic stress with low levels of genital arousal in women, with distraction as the leading cause of low libido.
Learning to unwind and practicing relaxation techniques can help reduce stress and clear the way for sexual arousal. “When you lower your stress levels, you allow more intimate thoughts to enter,” says Dr. Tandon. “Your body also becomes more open to sensation and arousal.”
You can use relaxation techniques to boost libido, including:
Deep breathing. Take slow, deep breaths and focus on dropping your daily stressors from your thoughts.
Mindfulness meditation. Sit comfortably, focus on your breathing, and try to anchor your mind in the present. If you feel your thoughts drifting into negative or anxious territory, allow the thoughts to come and then observe them passing.
Body scan. Sit down or lie on the floor, breathing slowly and deeply, while focusing on releasing tension from one body part at a time. A body scan can help you relax your whole body.
Yoga and Tai chi. These ancient Asian practices pair conscious breathing with poses that promote balance and flexibility. There are also specific disciplines of yoga, such as tantric yoga, that focus on releasing sexual energy and are proven to reduce the circulation of cortisol, a stress hormone that may reduce libido
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10. Exercise More
Research supports exercise’s role as a libido booster. In a 2016 study, better cardiovascular fitness and a lower body-fat percentage were directly linked to improved self-image and sexual arousal, pleasure, and orgasm for women. Another 2016 study of 405 women found that exercise improved sexual function.
A sampling of men who completed four 40-minute sessions of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity a week experienced fewer symptoms of erectile dysfunction related to obesity, high blood pressure, or cardiovascular disease.
11. Build Your Self Esteem
Self-esteem is vital to your sex drive. “Sometimes we replay the same negative thoughts over and over — we’re ugly, we’re fat, we’re not sexy enough,” says Dr. Tandon. “This negative self-talk can take its toll on libido and getting in the mood.”
Encouraging positive thought patterns about yourself can help you form a healthier self-image. Try to counter your negative thoughts with positive thoughts, practice daily gratitude, and spend time with those who boost your self-esteem.
12. Get Enough Sleep
Sleep and low libido are closely linked. Women who don’t sleep enough are at higher risk for low libido, and men may be more likely to have erectile dysfunction if they sleep for too little or too much time. Try to get seven to nine hours of sleep a night, keep your bedtimes and waking times regular, and keep your bedroom dark and comfortable.
13. Talk to Your Partner
If you have a long-term partner, several issues could block your feelings of sexual excitement. Consider the following:
Make sex an open conversation. Talk about your hangups and desires.
Allow yourself to be vulnerable. If you don’t discuss emotions with each other, you may not be able to get to the root of your low sex drive.
Set aside time to be intimate. The most natural libido booster is spending dedicated time together.
“Consider couple therapy to strengthen communication and address any psychological factors like stress, anxiety, depression, relationship issues, and past trauma that can play into sexual health,” says Dr. Tandon.
14. Check Your Medications
Some antidepressants can reduce libido as a side effect, particularly selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs). If low libido concerns you, speak to your healthcare provider about alternatives.
Here are answers to a few frequently asked questions about libido boosters for men and women.
What is the best booster for libido?
A little exercise, self-love, and relaxation can help boost your libido. Supporting deficient hormones can help restore your sex drive if they’re currently out of balance.
Can you increase your libido in a day?
Increasing libido takes sustained habits. Even identifying the underlying cause can take time. Any product claiming to increase your sex drive in a single day will likely fail to support its claims.
Are libido boosters effective?
Optimizing your hormone levels, implementing lifestyle changes, and adding certain vitamins or supplements to your routine may help boost your libido and return your natural sex drive.
What vitamins will increase libido?
Certain vitamins and nutrients may increase libido. Zinc can support testosterone production, which may help improve your sex drive. Supplementing magnesium and vitamin D to improve deficiencies may also help your sex drive. However, the effects of these supplements are still being researched.
What increases libido in women?
Estrogen support has proven effective in restoring libido in postmenopausal women. Supplemental zinc may also improve sexual desire in zinc-deficient females.
What increases libido in men?
Taking testosterone replacement therapy may help increase sex drive in men who have low testosterone levels. Since your levels of this hormone naturally decrease with age, testosterone therapy may be the most potent libido booster for men.
Why do I have low libido?
Decreasing hormone levels, medical problems, relationship conflict, sleep issues, stress, and sexual dysfunction can all cause low libido.
You may have low libido for a multitude of reasons. Treating this condition effectively often involves a mix of self-care, relationship-building, lifestyle changes, and hormone optimization therapy. The first step is to understand the causes and then address the underlying issues.
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This article was medically reviewed by:
Julia Afridi, DO, ABIHM Board Certified in Family Medicine and Osteopathic Medicine