4 Natural Remedies for Females to Treat Sexual Dysfunction
Sexual dysfunction refers to persistent or recurring problems during any stage of the sexual response (desire, arousal, plateau, orgasm, resolution) that prevents an individual or a couple from experiencing satisfaction from sexual activity and causes distress.
So far, scientific support for the claim that any natural remedy can treat sexual dysfunction in women is fairly lacking. Here is a look at several findings from the available research.
DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone) is a hormone produced naturally by the adrenal glands. It is converted in the body to the hormones estrogen and testosterone.
Levels of DHEA decline naturally with age and also with a condition called adrenal insufficiency. Both have been associated with low libido, which is why researchers have examined whether DHEA supplements can boost libido in these groups.
There is some evidence that suggests that DHEA may help premenopausal older women who are infertile improve their sexual function.
In one 2018 study, 50 women between the ages of 37 and 45 took DHEA supplementation and reported on their sexual function.1 The results implied that supplementation with DHEA improved sexual function (desire, arousal, and lubrication) in those women.
Another study found that low dose (10 mg) supplementation of DHEA for one year in postmenopausal women provided improvement in sexual function.2
There is barely any evidence that it improves sexual dysfunction in premenopausal fertile women. Further, many studies have found that the effects of DHEA supplementation on sexual function are inconclusive and present disparate results—with some having no effect on libido and sexual function at all.
Ginkgo biloba is an herb used for centuries in traditional Chinese medicine as a folk remedy for respiratory conditions, cognitive impairment, and circulatory disorders. In North America, it is most commonly used as a form of alternative medicine for cognitive function and memory.
Studies on the effectiveness of ginkgo for antidepressant-induced sexual dysfunction exist but are few and far between.
In one of such studies published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior, Ginkgo biloba extract was assessed for its short-term and long-term effects on sexual function in women with sexual arousal disorder.4 It concluded that “neither short- or long-term administration of GBE alone substantially impacts sexual function in women.”
L-arginine is an amino acid that has numerous functions in the body. It is needed by the body to make nitric oxide, a compound that helps to relax blood vessels and allow blood to flow through arteries.
In comprehensive studies where L-arginine was shown to be effective for female sexual dysfunction, the administered product always contained other substances.5 This makes it impossible to know if any improvement was due to the L-arginine itself or the other ingredients in the formula.
Damiana (Turnera diffusa) is an herb used traditionally by the Mayan people of Central America to enhance sexual function in men and women. It is reported to be an aphrodisiac, stimulant, mood enhancer, and a tonic.
The use of damiana as an aphrodisiac is somewhat controversial because there is no scientific evidence that it works and yet it has been widely promoted as a sexual stimulant.
Not Recommended: Yohimbe
The bark of the herb yohimbe (Pausinystalia Yohimbe) was historically used as a folk remedy for sexual dysfunction. The active constituent in the bark is called yohimbine. Studies have not found Yohimbe to be effective for sexual dysfunction in women. Yohimbe is not recommended due to serious health risks.
Safety and Precautions
While there are many natural remedies available to treat female sexual dysfunction, you should be very cautious about using them. There is no way to ascertain their safety. Supplements are not strictly regulated for safety and effectiveness by the FDA the way prescription and over-the-counter drugs are.
Also keep in mind that the safety of supplements has not been established in children, people who are pregnant or nursing, and those with medical conditions or who are taking medications. If you’re considering the use of a supplement or other form of alternative medicine for sexual dysfunction, talk with your doctor first.