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Libido, or sex drive, refers to the spontaneity, frequency, and magnitude of sexual desire. It’s affected by hormones and neurotransmitters (their dysfunction, as in depression, can suppress libido).

Our evidence-based analysis on libido features 39 unique references to scientific papers.

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Summary of Libido

Libido, or sex drive, refer to the spontaneity, frequency, and magnitude of sexual desire. When a persistent lack of sexual fantasies and desire leads to notable distress and difficulties in relationships, that's when it's deemed Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder (HSDD). It affects both men and women and is fairly common.

Low libido is a combination of physiological, psychological, and social factors, and varies in its cause from person to person. Fatigue, depression, and stress/anxiety are commonly cited reasons for low libido. Dysfunctional signaling in the dopaminergic reward system of the brain, or an excess of inhibitory neurotransmitters such as serotonin, prolactin, opioids, and endocannabinoids, particularly from drug abuse, is a reason for low libido. On the social end of things, strained relationships may be a common cause, and in that case, supplements will be unlikely to help.

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Human Effect Matrix

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The Human Effect Matrix looks at human studies to tell you what supplements affect Libido.

Full details on all Libido supplements are available to Examine members.
Grade Level of Evidence
Robust research conducted with repeated double-blind clinical trials
Multiple studies where at least two are double-blind and placebo controlled
Single double-blind study or multiple cohort studies
Uncontrolled or observational studies only
Level of Evidence
? The amount of high quality evidence. The more evidence, the more we can trust the results.
Supplement Magnitude of effect
? The direction and size of the supplement's impact on each outcome. Some supplements can have an increasing effect, others have a decreasing effect, and others have no effect.
Consistency of research results
? Scientific research does not always agree. HIGH or VERY HIGH means that most of the scientific research agrees.
grade-b Notable Very High See all 4 studies
An increase in libido appears to occur following Maca ingestion, which is notable as it appears to influence all demographics and is not associated with systemic hormones
grade-b - Very High See all 3 studies
Insufficient evidence to support an increase in libido despite increases in androgen status
grade-b - Very High See all 4 studies
Although a potential benefit cannot be ruled out at this moment in time (the first pilot study showed promise and there are some responders), overall ginkgo does not appear to influence SSRI-induced sexual dysfunction in more well conducted trials.

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Frequently Asked Questions and Articles on Libido

If you’re female, is sex healthy?
A wide range of psychological and physiological health factors benefit from penile-vaginal intercourse, but other sexual activities don’t seem to provide the same benefits, and masturbation and anal intercourse might even be detrimental to health. (Sorry.)
Supplements that could help rev up your libido
Most supplements marketed as "libido enhancing" are just hype. Very few, like Maca and cocoa extract, have evidence indicating they may help.
Do herbal aphrodisiacs work?
It depends on the product touted to be an aphrodisiac, but some of them do apparently increase sexual desire; it is a relatively under-researched topic though, and we don't know why they increase sexuality.
Click here to see all 39 references.