Natural Ways to Improve Libido & Sex Drive in Women

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Whether it’s a recent pregnancy, new job stress, or an underlying health issue, many women complain about a lack of sex drive at some point in their lives. Unfortunately, many don’t know what the cause is of their dip in desire and blame themselves, or resign themselves (and their partners) to a much diminished sex life. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Here are some ways to improve libido and increase sex drive in women, naturally of course!

Causes of Low Sex Drive & Libido in Women

To fix the problem we have to first understand what’s going on under the surface. Here are some of the most common causes of low sex drive in women:

  • Psychological causes- Low self esteem, body image issues, bad past sexual experience, sexual abuse, mental health issues. Just stressing or feeling guilty about low libido can perpetuate the problem.
  • Physical problems- Pain during sex or an inability to orgasm could affect desire. Surgery, especially related to the breasts or genital area. Vaginal atrophy and dryness (which occurs naturally with age and menopause) may also be making sex uncomfortable.
  • Health issues- When the body is working on healing it’s less likely to put effort into a sex drive. This can include arthritis, cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, coronary artery disease and neurological diseases among many others.
  • Prescription medications
  • Smoking and drinking
  • Fatigue- Newsflash: caring for small children can be exhausting!
  • Hormonal changes and imbalances- May be caused by pregnancy, breastfeeding, postpartum, menopause.

There can be one or more of the above reasons affecting sex drive at any given time. Obviously if there are any causes on this list that can be easily fixed, you may want to consider doing so (like quitting smoking).

How Hormones Affect Sexual Desire

Hormonal dysfunction may be the most common reason for low sex drive in women. Hormones are the body’s chemical messengers. They travel in the bloodstream to tissues and organs. They affect many different processes including sexual function.

The most common hormones that affect libido are:

  • Cortisol– Dysfunctional stress in the body is the root cause of most if not all hormone imbalances. Cortisol imbalance means it may be too high, too low, or it may fluctuate. In a biological sense, it makes sense that in times of high stress (like during a famine) the body would want to avoid pregnancy. The natural mechanism to do that may be low libido and infertility.
  • Testosterone– Often thought of as a man’s hormone, testosterone is incredibly important for women’s sexual health too. It’s the main hormone responsible for sex drive in both men and women. However, just increasing testosterone isn’t enough to improve sex drive alone. All hormones work together  and need to stay in balance (and at the proper levels) for optimal health.
  • Estrogen– Though estrogen is very important for sexual function, too much is not good. The more estrogen in a woman’s body the less testosterone there is. This is called estrogen dominance and is one of the biggest contributors to sexual dysfunction.
  • Progesterone, prolactin, and luteinizing hormone– These hormones also play a role in female sex drive. These hormones change throughout the month, causing normal hills and valleys in sex drive. However, if they are out of balance they can affect sex drive in a more serious way.

The bottom line: Hormones in the body are very complicated and have a complicated effect on each other. Hormones are so important for sex drive (and many other functions in the body) that even a slight disruption in balance can cause problems.

How Hormones Become Imbalanced

Hormones get out of balance in a number of ways:

  • Hormonal birth control– Synthetic hormones increase thyroid and sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG) which can decrease the available testosterone and thyroid hormone in the body. In a trial all three hormonal birth control types that were tested were found to increase SHBG.
  • Environmental endocrine disruptors– The endocrine system is very important for optimal hormonal balance. Endocrine disruptors can mimic natural hormones in the body and bind to receptors, leaving no receptors for natural hormones. People exposed to some kinds of endocrine disruptors have less testosterone in the body. Estrogenic foods like soy and certain additives should also be avoided.
  • Hypothyroidism– The thyroid, just like any other part of the body, doesn’t work on its own. One way it can affect sex drive is that if the thyroid is working slowly (hypothyroid) then the reproductive system is working slowly too. One study show that women with thyroid disease have a higher prevalence of low sex drive. Women with hyperthyroidism (an overactive thyroid) may also have low sex drive but are more likely to oscillate between high and low libido. Read more about thyroid imbalance in this post.
  • Chronic stress– Though stress can diminish libido in obvious psychological ways, stress has a hormonal effect on the body that is often to blame. Stress causes production of cortisol which can inhibit the function of the hypothalamus (the organ that sends out many of the hormonal signals in the body).

Ways to Naturally Increase Female Sex Drive

Boosting a low sex drive is completely possible! Since hormonal imbalance is the biggest factor for a low sex drive in women, balancing hormones  is the best thing to do to improve libido.

  • Eat plenty of healthy fats– Polyunsaturated fats (like those from vegetable oils) do not give the body the building blocks it needs to produce hormones. Choose fats from healthy sources like coconut oil, real butter, olive oil, and animal fats (tallow, lard) instead and eat lots of high omega-3 fish.
  • Eat a nutrient-dense diet– On top of eating enough fat, the diet should be nutrient dense. Pastured eggs (especially the yolk), high quality, pastured meats and offal (liver), fruits and vegetables, and fermented foods are nutrient dense. Zinc is an essential trace element that is necessary for hormone balance. Pregnant and nursing women are at higher risk for zinc deficiency (and they are also more likely to experience low libido). Zinc can usually be found in high enough quantities in foods like beef, oysters, dark chocolate, pumpkin seeds, and crab. (These foods are sometimes considered aphrodisiacs!)
  • Fix leptin– Leptin is a master hormone, and if it is out of balance (or if you are resistant to it) other hormones are more likely to be out of balance. Fixing leptin will also help boost fertility, make weight loss easier, improve sleep, and lower inflammation.
  • Limit caffeine– Bad news for coffee lovers (like me), but caffeine can overwhelm the endocrine system, especially if there are other hormone stressors involved, like pregnancy, presence of toxins, beneficial fat imbalance or stress. As much as I love it, I try to make sure I take breaks from coffee, or drink coffee with lower caffeine and added health benefits. There are many healthy coffee alternatives, like herbal tea, dandelion root tea latte, and chicory root “coffee.”
  • Avoid hormonal birth control– The hormones in birth control can wreak havoc on the body’s natural hormones, sending them into imbalance. There are many natural alternatives to hormonal birth control too.
  • Prioritize sleep– At night the body is active producing hormones (among other things) so sleep is essential for hormonal balance. One of many ways to naturally improve your sleep is to block blue light before bed. Blocking blue light helps the body produce melatonin (a hormone that induces sleep).
  • Essential oils– Though there are a number of essential oils that help balance hormones, the two that stand out are clary sage and lavender. These two oils have been the most studied and show significant benefit in balancing hormones.
    • Clary sage essential oil is amazing at alleviating pain, reducing the feeling of stress, and improving hormone balance. Clary sage has unique hormone like compounds that help to balance out estrogen production in the body.
    • Lavender essential oil helps balance hormones, offers pain relief (especially abdominal cramps associated with PMS and menstrual symptoms), and decreases feelings of stress and depression.

Supplements to Boost Libido

When diet and lifestyle are optimized, supplements may be what’s needed to get the libido back on track.

  • Maca root– Maca root has been used for centuries in the Andes Mountains. Maca’s high iodine is great for thyroid health (which is important for libido health too) and its high zinc level is important for sex hormones. Read more about it here.
  • Vitamins/minerals– Though nutrients from food are best, the foods we eat are often depleted of these important nutrients (because of depleted soil, bad growing practices, etc.) so supplementation may be necessary. Vitamin D, magnesium, and omega-3 fatty acids are typically needed in supplement form.
  • DHEA cream–  If vaginal atrophy or dryness is a factor, consider using a topical vulvar cream with DHEA like the one medical advisor Dr. Anna Cabeca recommends in this podcast on vaginal health.

Final Thoughts on Improving Low Libido

Decreased libido is a real problem for so many women (and men!) and stressful on both sides of any relationship. I’ll be asking experts about this topic more in the future both on the blog and on the podcast and exploring the mind-body connection that may be at play in addition to the physical causes.

This article was medically reviewed by Dr. Robert Galamaga, whois a board-certified internal medicine physician. As always, this is not personal medical advice and we recommend that you talk with your doctor or work with a doctor at SteadyMD.

Did pregnancy, breastfeeding, or another hormonal change cause low libido for you? What was your experience?

Katie Wells Avatar

About Katie Wells

Katie Wells, CTNC, MCHC, Founder of Wellness Mama and Co-founder of Wellnesse, has a background in research, journalism, and nutrition. As a mom of six, she turned to research and took health into her own hands to find answers to her health problems. is the culmination of her thousands of hours of research and all posts are medically reviewed and verified by the Wellness Mama research team. Katie is also the author of the bestselling books The Wellness Mama Cookbook and The Wellness Mama 5-Step Lifestyle Detox.


9 responses to “Natural Ways to Improve Libido & Sex Drive in Women”

  1. Kerri Avatar

    I am in my 30s and already have such a low libido, and I feel bad for my husband but I feel hopeless. Thank you for the great read and suggestions. I was doing some research into a Viagra for women kind of thing and came to find out that there was a pink pill for women…but did you know it was tested on more men than women? Is there another form of it? What are your thoughts about the pill and the study?

  2. Joanie Avatar

    Loved reading this article! Super informative, and the different ways to increase lowered libido is really helpful. I am always looking into more holistic routes, and recently read about acupuncture, and how it helps with low libido and other sexual issues. What are your thoughts?

  3. Christine Avatar

    I have had an amazing effect of cannabis oil! 🙂 my libido was non excisting after pregnancy and nursing a three year old, but after taking a drop of cannabis oil every evening, I am back to normal.

    I started taking it for sleep and inflammation, so the libido part is just a wonderful bonus. <3

    I do not take more than a fraction of what gets me high (never tried to be high, dont want to either). 🙂

  4. Annie Avatar

    Thank you for posting this! I’m currently breastfeeding and find my libido has increased since pregnancy but still not as much as I would like. Obviously it won’t be like it was before kids! But slightly higher would be nice. I’ll try your tips!

  5. Olivia Avatar

    My libido tanked at age 18 after getting on the pill at 17. I was on it until I was 22, I am now 24, and my libido still hasn’t returned. It really sucks to feel post-menopausal in my late teens and early 20s.. I have MTHFR and COMT mutations which probably make things even harder. My diet is fairly clean, I quit drinking coffee almost a month ago, I’ve been drinking maca in homemade hot cacao on and off for months, I’ve tried vitex, I’ve taken every supplement under the sun, and I just can’t seem to get my old self back 🙁 it took a long time for my cycles to regulate when I got off the pill so I figured once that balanced out my libido would return, but nope.. I hope some day it finds it’s way back because that would be a real bummer to only have been able to enjoy a couple of years of a healthy libido as a teenager before losing it forever. The things I would do to have found FAM at 17 and never have gotten on the pill.

    1. Alex Avatar

      The liver and kidneys are very important to keeping hormones in balance. Maca powder helps but if the liver is not healthy and well fed, hormones will be out of balance. Detox from and avoid glyphosate, Difficult to do in todays world but possible. Create an EMF free environment. At the least sleep grounded or in a Faraday Cage. EMFs especially digital EMFs will lower almost all hormones including testosterone and thyroid. One hormone level digital EMFs raise is prolactin. So lower testosterone and thyroid and higher prolactin is a perfect recipe for loss of libido. Over time if a cell tower is erected in a neighborhood, it will be the only erection in the neighborhood but the women will not mind much because they will not have a libido either. Cell radiation has been a more significant cause in the reduction of teenage pregnancies than abstinence training, by far.,

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