Natural ways to boost your sex life

If you feel like your sex drive is flagging, there are several simple lifestyle and dietary changes that can help turn up the heat in the bedroom again.

Aphrodisiacs

Aphrodisiacs have been used for centuries to boost sexual appetite and enjoyment, with no scientific proof of their effectiveness. Now some are beginning to pass the scrutiny of 21st-century research.

  • Coffee. A cup of coffee not only wakes you up but also increases your levels of dopamine, the neurotransmitter that is associated with the pleasure systems of the brain. It also increases sexual pleasure by increasing blood flow, an essential to achieving orgasm in both men and women.
     
  • Ginseng. One of the most ancient aphrodisiacs, ginseng root has been reported to improve erectile function. Ask your doctor's advice before trying this remedy.
     
  • Saffron. Reputedly used by Cleopatra in her bath, this is the most expensive spice in the world. Added to food, it is said to help erectile dysfunction and may boost oestrogen levels in women.
     
  • Ginkgo biloba. The leaves of this ancient species of tree are used by herbal practitioners for a variety of effects, one of which is improved blood circulation. This effect may improve blood flow to the penis, which could help to counter erectile dysfunction. But be aware of possible side effects such as diarrhoea or irritability.

 

Get physical!

 

  • Have a hug–if you're a man. When it comes to satisfaction in long-term relationships, it turns out that men need to cuddle more than women.

    In a study of heterosexual couples carried out in the USA by the Kinsey Institute, men who reported frequent kissing and cuddling with their partners were, on average, 3 times happier with their relationships than those who did so infrequently. For women, what was more important was a long-term relationship accompanied by good sex.
     

  • Get sweaty 4 times a week. Exercise not only helps you keep fit but can also significantly improve your sex life. A study has shown that among people who exercised on 4 or 5 days a week, 88 per cent of the women and 69 per cent of the men reported their sexual performance as being above or much above average. Not only that, those who exercised more actually had more sex. For men, one of the main advantages of exercise is that it increases blood flow to the penis, helping to ward off erectile dysfunction.
     
  • Improve your sex life with yoga. If you want to continue enjoying your sex life, consider taking up yoga. A small study of 40 healthy women found that a 12-week programme of yoga improved their sexual function in 6 areas (desire, arousal, lubrication, orgasm, pain and overall satisfaction). And women aged over 45 seemed to experience the most benefit to their sex lives from this form of exercise.

 

 

 

Resolve your health concerns

 

  • Get a postal diagnosis. If you're worried that you may have contracted genital herpes and feel reluctant to go to your doctor or specialist clinic, you can get a preliminary diagnosis by post. Several online clinics will, on request, send you a tube in which you can return a urine sample for analysis then receive the results by email.

    Alternatively, you can request a lesion swab test. You take a sample from a sore using a swab, which is then sent back for laboratory analysis. It's important to refrain from sex if you have reason to suspect you may have contracted genital herpes–or any other sexually transmissible infection. Whatever the results, only a doctor can confirm the diagnosis and rule out other, potentially serious diseases.
     

  • Don't self-medicate. It's unwise to take drugs such as sildenafil (Viagra) to treat erectile dysfunction without advice from your doctor. He or she will explain how to use the drug safely to minimise the risks.
     
  • Change your medication? Failure to achieve an erection (erectile dysfunction or ED) affects about 1 in 10 men in the UK, with the over 50s being most vulnerable. This common condition is often a side effect of prescription drugs that interfere with nerve signals to the penis.

    The top ‘culprits’ are beta-blockers, which are used to treat heart problems and high blood pressure, antihistamines, taken for allergies, and antidepressants. If you have been suffering from ED and suspect that a drug you are taking may be the cause, ask your doctor if an alternative medication that does not have this side effect might be suitable.
     

  • Don't worry about your heart. For most people, having an orgasm is no more likely to bring on a heart attack than a brisk climb up a couple of flights of stairs or a half-hour session in the gym. So try not to be overly concerned about having sex if you have a heart condition.

    What's most important is to keep fit and active so that you're able to cope easily with strenuous activities of all kinds–in and out of the bedroom. And there's also evidence that regular sex can benefit your heart health.
     

  • De-stress. Money worries come high on the list of stresses that can damage your sex life. A 2011 study of couples found that anxiety over finance, added to increased working hours and the stress of juggling jobs and children were all cited as reasons for having less sex. Balancing the books–and your priorities–can be a boost to your sex life.

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