Dr Sarah Brewer August 02, 2018

Ageing is often associated with male impotence and a dwindling sex drive in both men and women, but this doesn’t have to be the case. With the long-list of health benefits that come from regular sex – including stress relief boosted immunity (1) - it's time to up your bedroom action with our top three supplements for men AND women experiencing sexual performance problems, including the newest addition to the mix – Ginkgo biloba.

Top sexual performance boosting supplements for men:

Saw palmetto has long history of use to aid the sexual performance problems in men with an enlarged prostate gland. But a study published in April 2012 was one of the first to provide us with scientific proof. Spanning over eight weeks, the study found participants experienced a 64% improvement in erectile function and a 54% improvement in libido when using this herb.2

  • How does it work?

Saw palmetto works in several ways to reduce the effects of dihydrotestosterone (DHT), a male hormone formed from testosterone within the prostate gland. Counteracting the effects of DHT helps to ‘relax’ the central lobe of the prostate gland which helps to improve male sexual function. Saw palmetto may also help to reduce night time urination (nocturia) which is one of the most troublesome symptoms experienced by men with an enlarged prostate gland.

You may have heard of Gingko biloba as a potential cognitive health booster, but studies now show it could help with sexual performance problems, too. The research – an alternative medicine review undertaken by Douglas Mackay – found ginkgo biloba extract to be 76% effective in improving anti-depressant induced erectile dysfunction.3

  • How does it work?
Ginkgo leaves contain unique antioxidants called ginkgolides and bilobalides. These relax blood vessel walls, reduce blood stickiness and increase red blood cell flexibility to improve blood flow to the peripheries, including the genitals. Some studies also show that Ginkgo extracts improve sexual dysfunction in both men and women experiencing problems as a side effect of antidepressant medication.

 

Top sexual performance boosting supplements for women:

Caused by the thinning of 'mucous membranes' which are a type of bodily tissue, vaginal dryness is especially common in women going through the menopause – with 40% battling on despite it being a solvable problem. Research by the University of Turku found women given a daily dose of sea-buckthorn oil over a course of three months experienced an improvement in vaginal dryness compared with those taking placebo.

  • How does it work?

Sea buckthorn oil is rich in essential fatty acids and has an unusually high amount of omega-7 (palmitoleic acid). These oils help to lubricate mucous membranes, and overcome troublesome gynaecological dryness, itching or burning. As a bonus, Sea buckthorn oil also improves hair and skin quality as well as containing plant sterols which lower cholesterol.

For women, urinary tract infections (UTIs) can be a sex-life nightmare. While your local GP should be the first port of call – in case you have a urinary infection that needs treating with antibiotics - many swear by cranberry as an aid for preventing the onset of UTI symptoms. One study shows cranberry reduces the risk of UTIs in healthy women by 26%.4

  • How does it work?

Cranberry extracts contain a variety of antioxidant polyphenols with an antibacterial action. Known as anti-adhesins, these coat bacterial landing equipment and prevent them from sticking to the walls of the urinary tract, so they are flushed out more easily. A recent analysis of 7 clinical trials, involving 1498 people, showed that using cranberry products reduced the risk of UTI by 26%.5


References
1 NHS (June 2017) Benefits of love and sex, NHS Choices.
2 Suter, A; Saller, R; Riedi, E; Heinrich, M (June 2017) Improving BPH symptoms and sexual dysfunctions with a saw palmetto preparation? Results from a pilot trial, Sexual Medicine reviews.
3 Mackay, D (June 2004) Nutrients and botanicals for erectile dysfunction: examining the evidence, Alternative medicine review;
4 Fu, Z; Liska, D; Talan, D; Ching, M (December 2017) Cranberry Reduces the Risk of Urinary Tract Infection Recurrence in Otherwise Healthy Women; A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.
5 Ibid.

 

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