4 all-natural ways to boost your libido

Feeling a little less than blissed out in the bedroom? Western medicine has maintained a stubborn resistance to addressing issues around female sexual satisfaction and desire, and there’s truly nothing less sexy than yet another gynaecological exam or the personal lubricant aisle at a drugstore.

Luckily, there are natural ways to tap into your sensuality and up the romance. We spoke with Melanie Hill, a Toronto-based healer and graduate of the Institute of Traditional Medicine with a focus on sex and women’s health, about simple, holistic ways to bring back your spark. “Sexual health always starts with self-love,” says Hill, which is a philosophy we can totally get behind.

By the way, consult with a professional before going wild with herbs to make sure you’re using them safely and productively.

Oils

Let’s start with the obvious: a sexy rub-down never hurt anyone. But before you go hunting for that sticky, half-empty bottle of baby oil you’re sure you saw somewhere at the bottom of your gym bag, why not experiment with something that actually works with your body’s natural lubrication and energy, rather than against it?

Hill recommends playing with essential oils to make your own version of a “sex oil.” Try a warming or a cooling oil to stimulate physical sensations, and experiment with aromas to figure out what works for you. For a less DIY approach, many apothecaries are making sex oils that minimize sensitivities or allergic reactions in the more delicate parts of the body. Or just try adding a few drops of an essential oil like damiana to your favourite massage oil. Damiana is stimulating herb used for centuries to increase libido and is a potent aphrodisiac, although Hill cautions that it “doesn’t taste the greatest,” so keep that in mind when things get playful.

Since you’re already smearing coconut oil on every accessible body part – not to mention dunking it in your coffee, using it to clean your teeth, building a shrine from it in your bathroom, etc. – why not try using it as a lubricant? The moisturizing and anti-fungal properties of coconut oil actually make it a great substitute for commercial lubes. Plus, there’s the smell. It’s like having sex in a piña colada.

One major caveat: While natural oils are amazing for massage and lubrication to a point, they can dry and become sticky quickly, and don’t play well with latex condoms. Additionally, certain oils can affect your pH levels, so do your research first! You can also seek out a natural or vegan version of traditional lube if that’s a concern.

Herbs

Herbal remedies are used in many cultures to treat issues around sexual health and intimacy. However, they have only recently been re-integrated into Western medicine. “The main focus of herbs when addressing sexual health is around circulation; we’re looking for ways to help blood circulate more freely. Respiratory and circulatory herbs are used to cure impotence, and there are also great herbal cures for stress and anxiety that can really help with intimacy.”

Hill recommends a few in particular: “Korean Ginseng is a great sexual tonic, and it helps our bodies cope with stress. The cool thing about ginseng is that it isn’t a stimulant or a sedative; it actually works with your body to respond to what you need in the moment.”

For women struggling with pain during sex, try dong quai, an anti-spasmodic and anti-inflammatory. A hormone regulator, it can also help to reduce pain during periods and mediate anxiety. Ashwaganda, another favourite of Hill’s – “a wonder herb!” – also functions as a uterine tonic and mild relaxant and aphrodisiac. These can both be ingested as tinctures or teas.

Since all herbal treatments work best when they are targeted to your personal needs, visit a registered herbalist if you want to get serious about addressing concerns around your sexual health.

Diet

Feeling more Netflix than chill? Simple diet changes could be the key to finding your sexual equilibrium. Try incorporating more antioxidants, like dark berries, coffee, and walnuts. Hill notes that increased oxidation in your body allows for better blood flow and a healthier cardiovascular system. “You become more sensitive and attuned, which allows for more natural lubrication production and easier arousal.”

Zinc is also extremely important for both men and women; it stimulates the ovaries and helps replenish semen count. Supplements are easiest, but you can also get it through food sources. In fact, many of the trace minerals you need for sexual health are found in foods we traditionally think of as aphrodisiacs – think oysters and other shellfish, dark chocolate, and red wine.

Hill cautions people to look at their diet before they start piling on the gummy vitamins. “No matter what supplements you take, if your nutrition is crap and you aren’t absorbing anything, it’s a lost cause.”

Meditation

While meditation might not be high on your list of sexy-time activities, it’s possible a little zen could be key to getting your romance back on track. “Stress is the number one underlying issue in sexual problems, and reducing stress is one of the primary functions of all of these herbs,” says Hill. “You need to learn how to sit with yourself and practice the best self-care you can.”

For a rather unorthodox weekend activity, try out a meditation workshop, or gift yourself or your sweetheart a subscription to Headspace.

All of these suggestions are part of the hard work of taking a more holistic approach to your health and mood. “You need to look at the big picture with sexual issues,” says Hill. “That’s the whole point of holistic medicine. No one herb will fix everything for everyone; you really have to look at the root of the problem.” And, hopefully, have some sexy fun while doing so.