Improve Your Sex Life: 21 Nutrients to Boost Libido, Fertility, and Testosterone Naturally

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Improving your sex life by enhancing libido and fertility requires optimizing your levels of certain hormones. Testosterone, DHEA, growth hormone, estrogen, and progesterone are the major hormones involved. And their optimal levels in the body can be achieved without the use of prescription hormones in the majority of individuals.

In the case of testosterone (the major hormone regulating libido in both men and women), certain biochemical issues must be overcome.  Testosterone must be freely available to brain cell receptor sites in order to promote libido, sexual satisfaction, and performance. Unfortunately, testosterone becomes more and more bound to a carrier protein called serum globulin as men age – even though the actual level of testosterone production does not generally decrease with aging. The result is that testosterone is no longer available to the sex stimulating centers in the brain.

The solution isn’t as simple as taking more testosterone or DHEA, the latter of which the body converts to testosterone. This is because supplemental testosterone, through the action of liver enzymes, also becomes bound to its carrier protein and is unavailable to receptor sites.

How can this bound testosterone be freed naturally? You may have noticed the ads in American health magazines or the internet for various formulas promising the user fabulous sex for life.  Some of the claims being made for one product aimed at women include increased intensity and ease of achieving orgasm, improved clitoral sensitivity, enhanced intensity of pelvic sensation during sex, and decreased time needed for vaginal lubrication.

For men, equivalent products are said to intensify orgasm, firm up erections, prolong erections during sexual activity, and reduce the time needed to produce a subsequent erection. Sound too good to be true?

While published studies have not verified that certain brand name products create the results advertised, research has confirmed the effectiveness of several components of these supplements in boosting the sex lives of both men and women. If you know the ingredients of these formulas it’s easy to understand how they might work to create such results.  More on this later.

Diet and Lifestyle Solutions

 LIFESTYLE STRATEGIES: To enhance sexual energy, consider such methods as deep breathing exercises, light aerobic exercise, meditation, visualization, and yoga. Avoid severe stress, excessively vigorous exercise, or the overuse of hot tubs and saunas, all of which can lower production of hormones involved in potency, fertility, and sex drive. Eliminating these stressors can make a significant difference.

Potency, fertility, and sexual prowess are also affected by the presence of chemicals, especially estrogen-like chemicals, antibiotics, and other pollutants in the environment. That’s why it’s critical to avoid the chemicals, growth hormones, and antibiotic residue commonly found in conventional animal products (non-organic) and processed foods.

DIETARY CHANGES: Nutritional support is a cornerstone of sexual health. I recommend a balanced diet low in animal fats, fried foods, sugar, caffeine, white flour products, alcohol, and junk foods. Your healthiest choice is a whole food diet with plenty of organic fresh fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grains.

In your daily diet, include unrefined cold-pressed nut and seed oils such as hemp seed, flax seed, walnut, or pumpkin seed oil. Essential fatty acids are particularly important for sexual health because the body uses them to make hormones called prostaglandins, necessary for normal sexual response. Since the vast majority of fish on this planet are contaminated by mercury, it’s best to keep fish and seafood consumption to a minimum. However, in regards to fish oil supplements,  all such supplements must be free of mercury according to Canadian law, so these products are safe from contamination.

Eat your oats. Rich in vitamin E, oats release testosterone from its binding protein, making it more available to cells that require this hormone. This can lead to enhanced libido, improved stamina, and a stronger nervous system.

Avoid alcohol and high-caffeine products such as coffee, tea and cola drinks. They deplete the body of zinc, manganese, magnesium and other nutrients. They also cause an imbalance between estrogen and testosterone, favoring higher estrogen levels. It’s also wise to bypass foods high in sugar and refined carbohydrates _– they boost estrogen levels, destabilize blood sugar levels, and devour nutrients such as chromium and B-complex vitamins.

“Sex appeal is fifty percent what you’ve got and fifty percent what people think you’ve got.” — Sophia Loren

Top 10 Foods to Increase Sex Drive & Libido

“To succeed with the opposite sex tell her you’re impotent. She can’t wait to disprove it.” ― Cary Grant

  • SPINACH – increases pelvic blood flow and is rich in magnesium a mineral that decreases inflammation and increases blood flow in blood vessels. So Popeye may have had more than stronger muscles going for him.
  • DARK CHOCOLATE – increases both serotonin and dopamine levels in the brain thus boosting libido. Cocoa is also a good source of magnesium and that improves circulation in the pelvic region.
  • HOT PEPPERS – if you can stomach them they do boost your metabolism and stimulate endorphin release. This can make you sweat and speed up your heart rate while improving blood flow to essential areas for the sex act. You may need to take some calcium and magnesium supplements to reduce any heartburn issues.
  • GREEN TEA – contains catechins that boost desire by promoting blood flow in the pelvis that releases more nitric oxide which enhances erections. Aside from that, green tea can also speed the liver’s ability to turn fat into energy that can assist in weight loss regimes.
  • OYSTERS– not for vegans and nothing compares with its high zinc levels, a mineral that can help elevate both testosterone and human growth hormone (HGH) levels. Performance in the bedroom as well as fertility is enhanced by eating (or should I really say swallowing) oysters.
  • GINGER – this spice can definitely spice up your sex life basically by reducing inflammation and aiding arterial blood flow to the pelvic regions. Use real ginger and not ginger ale which is a mere shadow of its natural self.
  • PUMPKIN SEEDS – a great snack for better sex life because they are a good source of the amino acid tryptophan which boosts serotonin levels in the brain. This helps relieve anxiety, depression and basically enhances one’s positive mood. In addition pumpkin seed oil has been known to improve symptoms associated with an enlarged prostate such as excessive night time urination.
  • BANANAS – are high in potassium, a mineral that counteracts the harmful effects of high sodium which can diminish blood flow to the genitals causing difficulty in reaching orgasms.
  • POMEGRANATE JUICE – has antioxidants that support blood flow that has a positive impact on erectile dysfunction. Pomegranate can also reduce blood sugar and blood pressure if it’s high so has a positive impact on circulation in general.
  • Watermelon – contains lycopene, a nutrient that performs as well as Viagra to improve circulation in the genital region.

Other libido enhancing foods include blueberries, fatty fish (although go easy on these due to the high mercury content), pistachios, walnuts, garlic, oats and potatoes.

Reduce Xenoestrogen Exposure

“Nobody dies from the lack of sex. It’s lack of love we die from.” — Margaret Atwood

An often-overlooked cause of reduced libido, low sperm count, poor sperm motility, and infertility is excess exposure to xenoestrogens – chemicals like PCBs, DDT, dioxin, BPA (bisphenol A), other pesticides, plastics and industrial pollutants. These are compounds that can mimic the effects of estrogen thus creating a relative testosterone deficiency. They are well known to be endocrine system disruptors.

Research has shown that the semen of the average man today has half the amount of sperm in it (and is of poorer quality) than fifty years ago. Furthermore, breast cancer, early onset menses, prostate cancer, testicular cancer, undescended testes, childhood cancers, precocious puberty, and numerous other disorders have all been linked at one time or another to exposure to xenoestrogens.

One can prevent exposure to xenoestrogens or at least minimize their impact on health by doing several things:

Tips on Preventing Your Exposure to Xenoestrogens

  • Avoid plastic containers for food storage, as well as plastic bottles, wraps and utensils.
  • Use office paper products whitened without chlorine.
  • Use only non-bleached coffee filters, paper, napkins, toilet tissue, tampons, etc. in order to reduce dioxin exposure.
  • Use tampons and sanitary napkins made of organic cotton without chlorine.
  • Avoid chlorinated tap water, chlorine bleach, and other chlorinated products; use hydrogen peroxide as an alternative bleach.
  • Eat organic food as much as possible to avoid pesticides or herbicides.
  • Avoid synthetic deodorants and cosmetics; use only organic products whenever possible.
  • Avoid commercial animal foods with a high fat content that contains hormones, especially milk, dairy products, chicken, beef and pork.
  • Avoid alcohol and caffeine.
  • Avoid fried, charcoal-broiled, or barbecued cooking.
  • Eat lots of high antioxidant foods like green leafy vegetables, kale, carrots, citrus, broccoli, cauliflower and yams which contain carotenes, vitamins A, C, E, and selenium.

11 Supplement Solutions

“Sex at age 90 is like trying to shoot pool with a rope.” –– George Burns

The benefits of diet and lifestyle changes can be amplified by nutritional and herbal supplements. One or more of the following remedies, in order of most to least effective, may be all that’s needed  to enhance libido and fertility:

L-ARGININE SUPPLEMENTATION (6,000 – 12,000 mgs. daily) – promotes natural body production of nitric oxide, much like the drug Viagra. What nitric oxide does is to dilate (widen) the arteries to the genitals. Unlike Viagra, arginine is inexpensive, has never caused any deaths, and has a very low toxicity potential. Arginine has been proven effective for treating low sperm counts and male infertility, as well as wound healing after surgery.  Contraindications for its use include kidney disease and herpes simplex, both of which can be made worse by high arginine/low lysine foods like chocolate and nuts.

Women will also welcome arginine supplementation for enhancing their libido levels.  Nitric oxide increased by arginine improves vaginal circulation and stimulates the perivascular nerves in the genital area involved in sexual arousal.

The best way of utilizing arginine supplements is to take between 6 and 12 grams an hour before an anticipated sexual encounter. People who cannot take large amounts of this amino acid in capsule form at one sitting can get almost as good results for sexual performance by taking the arginine in divided doses, 3 or 4 times during the day. Alternatively, arginine comes in a powdered form and can be mixed with fruit juice.

L-arginine is an essential amino acid which can be very effective oral therapy for erectile dysfunction, producing harder and longer lasting erections and increasing libido. Aside from its effects on boosting nitric oxide levels, L-arginine is a stimulator of growth hormone release, another hormone involved in enhancing libido. Growth hormone release helps increase muscle mass while decreasing the amount of body fat.

L-arginine also plays an important role in alleviating post-injury problems such as weight changes, nitrogen balance, fatigue and tissue healing. It increases collagen, the main supportive fibrous protein found in bone, cartilage, and other connective tissue, stimulates the immune system and increases the production of sperm (spermatogenesis). L-arginine can be used in treatment of liver disorders because it promotes the detoxification of ammonia which is poisonous to living cells.

One word of caution about L-arginine is that it can cause circulation side effects in people who have had heart attacks, notably because it can interact with blood pressure and other cardiac medications. It is therefore contraindicated in people who have had heart attacks.

L-CITRULLINE – is another amino acid that can be taken as a supplement (1,000 mg twice daily) because it boosts L-arginine levels that increase the levels of nitric oxide. Nitric oxide then relaxes blood vessels leading to better circulation in the pelvic area arteries. Thus, erections are indirectly enhanced by regular L-citrulline supplementation. Since it can lower blood pressure if one takes it on a long term basis, it can interact with numerous blood pressure medications. Like arginine it has been used as natural therapy for high blood pressure in cases where blood pressure medications are not well tolerated.

FOLIC ACID – is another one of the B complex vitamins whose claim to fame has been its ability to prevent neural tube defects in the developing fetus.  Folic acid is also important in prevention of heart disease because it’s able to keep levels of the amino acid, homocysteine, in check.  Homocysteine has a negative impact on the production of nitric oxide, the molecule considered to be important for both an optimal cardiovascular system as well as a very healthy sex life. Folic acid supplements of 5 to 10 mgs daily help optimize nitric oxide levels. The most active form of folic acid is 5-MTHF (5-methyl-tetra-hydro-folate).

Some individuals, due to a genetic defect, do not convert folic acid from food or supplements to this active form and need to supplement 5-MTHF itself to stay well neurologically.

CHOLINE – is an essential nutrient vital to building and maintaining cell membranes. It is derived in the diet from soybeans and eggs and its use as a supplement is primarily for memory enhancement.

Choline (1.200 mgs, 3 times daily) and pantothenic acid (vitamin B5) (1,000 mgs, 3 times daily) are used by the body in the production of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter important for healthy memory as well as a signal for the release of the enzyme nitrous oxide synthase (NOS). In the presence of L-arginine, this enzyme helps produce nitric oxide. The combination of choline, vitamin B5, and L-arginine are thus needed to produce the nitric oxide for release into the bloodstream so erection can occur.

B COMPLEX (50 – 100 mgs. daily) – should be taken to balance the individual B vitamins taken in higher dosages. While there are no significant side effects to taking high dose folic acid, choline, and pantothenic acid, theoretically one can create relative deficiencies in the other B complex vitamins.

STINGING NETTLE ROOT (1-2 tsps/5-10 ml of the standardized tincture or 500 mgs twice daily of the capsules) – can reduce the testosterone protein-binding process almost tenfold, making more free testosterone available to the brain and other receptors.

AVENA SATIVA (same dosage as above) – is an extract from wild oatstraw, which can also help release bound testosterone, making it more active.

RED CLOVER EXTRACT – is high in the isoflavones genistein and daidzein which are also found in cultured soy products. Not only do these natural compounds help normalize sexual function in men after age 50, but they also prevent prostate cancer as well as other cancers.

MUIRA PUAMA – is a herb that originates in the Amazon rainforests of South America. This plant has shown significant libido-enhancing effects and has traditionally been used as an aphrodisiac. People typically use 1 to 2 ml of the extract in water two to three times daily, or take two 500 mgs capsules. Muira puama fortifies the system over a period of months, but some men report increased vitality within two weeks. It has no known toxicity at any dose and is well tolerated by generally healthy men.

MACA (Lepidium meyenii) – is a Peruvian herb root that can significantly improve erectile tissue response. Apparently, it normalizes the levels of steroid hormones such as testosterone, progesterone, and estrogen to those similar to young adults – thus bolstering libido. Men typically use 1,500 to 6,000 mg or more per day in three divided doses. A teaspoon of root powder, containing 2,800 mg of maca root, is used in 8 ounces (227 ml) of water three times daily.

Maca increases seminal volume, count of mobile sperm, and mobility of sperm by up to 200%. It also increases the levels of DHEA which, in turn, increases the levels of testosterone. Maca is also well known as something that helps one cope better with stress. Many also use maca as an overall energy booster.

SAW PALMETTO (Serenoa repens) – is a very popular herb known for its ability to reverse an enlarged prostate gland (benign prostatic hypertrophy or BPH). About 60% of all men over age 50 suffer from varying degrees of prostate enlargement, which can interfere with normal sexual function. Saw palmetto can be instrumental in reversing this situation. It works by preventing testosterone from converting to dihydrotestosterone, the form of testosterone thought to stimulate prostate enlargement. The recommended daily dose is 1 to 2 grams of whole berries or 320 mg of a standardized extract.

OTHER NATURAL REMEDIES – that support libido and fertility are zinc, vitamin C, niacin, ginkgo biloba extract, panax ginseng, gokhru fruit (Tribulus terrestris), damiana leaf, gotu cola. and velvet elk antler. To read more about these, see my book Boosting Male Libido Naturally (Alive Books, 2000), available at your favorite health food store.


  • 21 Foods to Increase sex life and libido:
  • Citrulline Benefits:
  • Anderson-Hunt, M, and Dennerstein, L. “Increased female sexual response after oxytocin,” BMJ, 1994;309:929.
  • Brann, DW, and Mahesh, VB. “Excitatory amino acids: evidence for a role in the control of reproduction and anterior pituitary hormone secretion,”    Endocr Rev 1997;18:678-700.
  • Burnett, AL. “Role of nitric oxide in the physiology of erection,” Biol Reprod 52 (1995) 485-489.
  • Choi, YD, et al. “The distribution of nitric oxide synthase in human corpus cavernosum on various impotent patients,” Yonsei Med J, 38 (1997) 125-132.
  • Rona, Zoltan P. Boosting Male Libido Naturally. Vancouver:Alive Books, 2000.
  • Dawson EB, Harris WA, Powell LC. Relationship between ascorbic acid and male fertility.
  • Hunt CD, Johnson PE, Herbel JoL, Mullen LK. Effects of dietary zinc depletion on seminal volume and zinc loss, serum testosterone concentrations, and sperm morphology in young men. Am J Clin Nutr 1992;56:148–57.
  • Netter A, Hartoma R, Nahoul K. Effect of zinc administration on plasma testosterone, dihydrotestosterone and sperm count. Arch Androl 1981;7:69–73.
  • De Aloysio D, Mantuano R, Mauloni M, Nicoletti G. The clinical use of arginine aspartate in male infertility. Acta Eur Fertil 1982;13:133–67.
  • Schacter A, Goldman JA, Zukerman Z. Treatment of oligospermia with the amino acid arginine. J Urol 1973;110:311–13.
    Bayer R. Treatment of infertility with vitamin E. Int J Fertil 1960;5:70–78.
  • Sandler B, Faragher B. Treatment of oligospermia with vitamin B12. Infertil 1984;7:133–38.
  • Costa M, Canale D, Filicori M, et al. L-carnitine in idiopathic asthenozoospermia: a multicenter study. Andrologia 1994;26:155–59.
  • Vitali G, Parente R, Melotti C. Carnitine supplementation in human idiopathic asthenospermia: clinical results. Drugs Exptl Clin Res 1995;21:157–59.
  • Oliva, A et al. Contribution of environmental factors to the risk of male infertility Human Reproduction 2001 Vol 16 No 8 p1768-76
    Gonzales, G. F., et al. “Lepidium meyenii (Maca) improved semen parameters in adult men. Asian J. Androl. 2001 Dec; 3(4):301-3.
  • Bhardwaj A, Verma A, Majumdar S, Khanduja KL. Status of vitamin E and reduced glutathione in semen of oligozoospermic and azoospermic patients. Asian J Androl. 2000 Sep;2(3):225-8.
  • Piacentino R, Malara D, Zaccheo F, et al. Preliminary study of the use of s. adenosyl methionine in the management of male sterility. Minerva Ginecologica 1991;43:191–3 [in Italian].
  • Hong CY, Chiang BN, Turner P. Calcium ion is the key regulator of human sperm function. Lancet 1984;2:1449–51.
  • Moncada ML, Vicari E, Cimino C, et al. Effect of acetylcarnitine treatment in oligoasthenospermic patients. Acta Europaea Fertilitatis 1992;23:221–4.
  • Salvati G, Genovesi G, Marcellini L, et al. Effects of Panax ginseng C.A. Meyer saponins on male fertility. Panmineva Med 1996;38:249–54.



Zoltan P. Rona, MD, MSc, offers consultations on nutrition and natural remedies in Thornhill. He has recently retired from medical practice as a Complementary and Alternative medical practitioner and now strictly offers nutritional consultations. He is the medical editor of The Encyclopedia of Natural Healing and has also published several Canadian bestselling books, including Vitamin D, The Sunshine Vitamin. To see more of Dr. Rona’s articles, visit: and for appointments, please call (905) 764-8700; office located at: 390 Steeles Ave. W., Unit 19, Thornhill, Ontario

Write a Comment

view all comments