Human sexuality is a complex and important part of psychological and physical well-being as well as an important quality-of-life issue for many people. Because libido and sexual response can decline as a result of age and other factors, many women and men seek healthy, non-drug ways of optimizing or restoring their libido and a healthy sexual response.
The sexual formulas in this section are dietary supplements formulated to support libido (sexual desire), a healthy physical response to sexual stimuli (e.g., erectile function) or in many cases both. Sexual formulas utilize combinations of herbs, vitamins, amino acids or other nutrients many of which have clinically-proven effectiveness. The ingredients in sexual formulas may affect circulation, nerve function, hormone levels or, as is true in some cases, their exact mechanisms aren't known. Here's a look at some of the more common ingredients in sexual formulas.
Horny Goat Weed – HGW or epimedium is a herb in continuous use for thousands of years as a part of Traditional Chinese Medicine. According to legend, thorny goat weed was discovered and subsequently named by a Chinese goat herder who noticed a dramatic increase in the sexual activity in his flock after they ate the weed. HGW works in a similar manner to drugs like Viagra, by increasing blood flow and relaxing smooth muscle. HGW has no hormonal effects and can be used by men or women. Nature's Way Horny Goat Weed has a robust 10% concentration of the active ingredient iicarin, making it a good choice for anyone interested in trying it.
Tribulus terrestris – Tribulus is often "cycled" (used for a time, then discontinued for a time) by bodybuilders since it may be able to produce a short-term rise in testosterone. Tribulus is also used to support sexual desire and libido by raising testosterone, although the effects are highly variable. NOW Foods Tribulus, at 45%, is one of the more concentrated formulas available and would make a good choice.
Arginine – Arginine is an amino acid used in the production of nitric oxide (NO) which is the primary vasodilator involved in both male and female arousal. Arginine supports a healthy sexual response by enhancing circulation. Arginine does not affect libido per se, so it's a good choice for individuals who have a strong desire but have problems with the physical response. Arginine is a key ingredient in products like Twinlab Male Fuel and Irwin Natural's Steel Libido.
Yohimbe – Yohimbe is an herbal ingredient. In high concentration, yohimbe extract is actually a prescription drug indicated for erectile dysfunction. Yohimbe increases blood flow to the pelvic region and also sensitizes nerves in that area, increasing and enhancing both the physical response and pleasurable sensations associated with sexual stimuli. Yohimbe extract is a key ingredient in Maximum International Sizable.
Maca – also known as Peruvian ginseng, Maca has been shown to increase male reproductive behaviors in test animals and has a long and well-established reputation as a sexual tonic for humans as well. One of the good things about Maca is that it is not gender specific and can be used by men and women. In fact, Maca is a key ingredient in some sexual formulas sold in both 'male' and 'female' versions such as NOW Men's Virility Power or or Irwin Naturals Steel Libido for Women.
LongJack/Tongkat Ali - also known as Eurycoma longifolia, LongJack has become popular in sexual and bodybuilding formulas for its purported testosterone-enhancing properties. NOW Foods TestoJack is an excellent choice since it combines LongJack with other nutrients for enhanced results.
While sexual formulas can be very effective, customers considering them should keep in mind that libido and sexual response depend on many seemingly unrelated factors such as hormones, state-of-mind, circulatory health, nutrition, medical condition and other considerations. So no single product or ingredient will ever work for every person in every case. Some customers may need to try several products before finding the one that works best, as is the case with many other types of supplements such as pre-workout formulas or multivitamins. Speaking of multivitamins, most sexual formulas will perform best when the user has a solid nutritional foundation – a lack of almost any essential vitamin or mineral can adversely affect sex drive and function and undermine the effectiveness of a sexual formula. So be sure to use a multi, fish oil for omega-3 essential fatty acids and a good protein powder along with your sexual formula.