Can libido supplements improve intimacy?

Libido Supplements for Men: Can They Support Sexual Health?

Time waits for no man (or woman, for that matter!) And with time and age, it can be more difficult to maintain the stamina you had back in the day. This also applies to the bedroom—specifically, enjoying the same level of sexual stamina you recall from your younger years. But that doesn't mean you should let your sex drive, well, drive away into the sunset!

It's not just pillow talk: in addition to its role in sexual desire, healthy libido is connected to self-esteem, especially in bed. And beyond that, healthy sexual function and libido both play essential roles in physical intimacy in relationships, an important factor in maintaining quality of life as you age. And while it can be more challenging to keep the fire burning as you get older, it doesn't mean your prime has passed.

In fact, your best days are ahead with the right lifestyle choices, including targeted supplements and ingredients for men's sexual health.

Do libido supplements work?

When it comes to making sure your libido is working optimally, it's important to know there is no magic method; many factors contribute to whether you experience optimal sexual performance. But, libido supplements can play a role; indeed, there are several ingredients that have been studied in specific dosages to promote men's sexual health in several ways—one of them being support of healthy testosterone levels, which is integral to sexual performance.

Best sexual supplements for men

No matter what stage of life you're in, who doesn't want some enhancement in their sex life? These 12 ingredients—found in both standalone and combination formulas—will have you ready to add some extra spice to your life…literally!

1. Kaempferia parviflora

Otherwise known as black ginger extract, Kaempferia parviflora has been well studied for supporting male sexual health for many years. This is because K. parviflora promotes nitric oxide (NO) synthesis. In simpler terms, this just means that it relaxes blood vessels and enables healthy penile blood flow, making it an ideal ingredient for male sexual response. In fact, the results of one study of male participants found that those who took 100 mg of black ginger extract daily for 30 days supported healthy erectile function (aka maintaining an erection), among other sexual health benefits.

2. French maritime pine bark

Pycnogenol®, aka French maritime pine bark extract, makes it easier to rev up arousal by supporting blood flow and vascular health. It does this by supporting the production of the enzyme that actually makes nitric oxide. This process helps relax the blood vessels, enabling blood flow to the penis for men to get an erection. This can be found as a standalone supplement or part of a combination formula.

3. L-arginine

L-arginine is an amino acid that helps support protein production in the body, and benefits the whole body due to its role as a precursor to nitric oxide, the compound responsible for promoting healthy blood flow (including to the penis). When combined with French maritime pine bark extract and icariin in a comprehensive sex support formula, it is an effective option to boost libido.

4. Icariin

A compound derived from the aptly named horny goat weed, which is known for the aphrodisiac effects that their leaves have on goats and benefits both men and women. Icariin is thought to mimic some properties of testosterone, and other studies suggest it can promote the expression of nitric oxide synthase, two valuable aspects of men's sexual function.

5. DHEA

DHEA, a hormone abundant in men and women, has a reputation for supporting optimal hormone balance, including testosterone and estrogen. Due to DHEA's ability to be metabolized into testosterone, it supports sexual function and a healthy libido. DHEA also supports nitric oxide synthesis and blood flow to the penis, which is important for maintaining an erection. Making sure you have enough DHEA is important, as suboptimal levels can impact attaining an erection in men.

6. Pomegranate

A great way to support your healthy sexual function is simply by supporting your general endothelial health and blood vessel function. This is where pomegranate comes in. In preclinical and clinical studies, pomegranate was found to positively support endothelial health, which in turn helps support healthy blood flow to the penis and healthy penile function. In one clinical study, pomegranate juice consumption positively influenced healthy testosterone production by 24%. Pomegranate is sometimes combined with cacao for general testosterone support.

7. Ginseng

Panax ginseng, also known as red ginseng, has been linked to exercise endurance and some studies have found that taking a ginseng supplement helps support normal levels of testosterone. Ginseng is also well studied for energy production—another great way to boost your experience in between the sheets.

8. Fenugreek

Fenugreek is a seed extract that has been studied to boost libido, support healthy erectile function and promote male sexual health.

9. Luteolin

In a preclinical study, luteolin encouraged the expression of a protein that helps transport cholesterol into mitochondria. This in turn helps support healthy testosterone synthesis.

10. Chrysin

Chrysin is a plant flavonoid that inhibits aromatase, the enzyme that converts testosterone to estrogen. By inhibiting aromatase, chrysin helps men keep their testosterone levels within a healthy range.

11. CoQ10

CoQ10, well known for its cellular energy and cardiovascular benefits, may also benefit sexual health. Because of its vascular health benefits, including its positive effects on endothelial function and blood flow to the penis, CoQ10 is another great supplement option for men's sexual health.

12. Saw palmetto

Saw palmetto has a reputation for being an all-star supplement for prostate health support. But it also benefits testosterone production, a key factor in men's sexual health.

Pro tip: While libido supplements can support a healthy sex life for men and their partners, if you're looking specifically for "sexual enhancement," a term referring to enhanced penis size…well, that's not really the kind of enhancement you're going to get from supplements or healthy lifestyle choices, for that matter.

What is the Best Vitamin for Men's Sexual Health?

There are a few science-backed vitamins and minerals that have supportive evidence for men's sexual health and testosterone health (among other health benefits).

  • Vitamin D

    —Vitamin D is important for endothelial function. Vitamin D, like some of the other ingredients mentioned, helps stimulate the production of nitric oxide, which favorably affects blood flow, including to the penis—making it easier for men to get an erection.
  • Zinc

    —A positive correlation has been found between high concentrations of zinc, a mineral that is used by the body for over 300 different reactions, and healthy testosterone levels. This suggests that zinc helps promote healthy testosterone concentrations, as seen in preclinical studies.

Do supplements for libido have side effects?

The vitamins and supplements we've discussed have few or no side effects. However, you should always follow the label instructions and stick with the dosage. If you have any concerns about whether any vitamin or supplement is safe, discuss it with your doctor. And discontinue use of any supplements should you experience side effects.

Will testosterone supplements support libido?

One of the keys to healthy libido lies in supporting healthy testosterone levels. So, any vitamins or nutrients that support testosterone levels (like several of the supplements on our list!) can positively impact male sexual response.

How do you best support male libido?

As we mentioned, a major part of maintaining a healthy libido is making sure you're supporting healthy testosterone levels, which impact everything from the ability to maintain an erection to sexual desire. But, with any health goal, while dietary supplements are one aspect of making sure your sex life is where you want it to be, it's only one part of the equation, and sexual wellness goes hand in hand with overall wellness. And luckily, there are plenty of things you can do to keep your health humming.

  • Exercise

    —Exercise is well known for its whole-body health benefits, as well as for targeted support, particularly when it comes to testosterone levels. In a meta-analysis of 48 studies, both moderate and high-intensity exercise were found to positively influence healthy testosterone levels. Good options include HIIT and weight training to keep your levels right where you want them to be.
  • Healthy diet

    —Overall health in general is heavily influenced by the food you eat and by following a healthy diet. And the Mediterranean diet is a great place to start. With its emphasis on foods that provide nutrients like vitamin D, zinc, and omega-3s, this diet helps promote a healthy inflammatory response, another key component of keeping testosterone levels right where you want them.
  • Stress management

    —Stress can be a major factor when it comes to your health (and can absolutely impact your desire to have sex). The body releases the stress hormone cortisol, which can impact everything from your already-healthy blood pressure and sleep patterns to your mood, and yes, even your sex life. Limiting stress can favorably influence healthy testosterone levels.
  • Limiting alcohol consumption

    —Though there are some health benefits to moderate alcohol consumption (hello, red wine!) it's important to make sure that you are keeping your bubbly intake to a minimum. In fact, studies have shown an association between increased alcohol consumption and difficulty achieving and maintaining an erection. Remember, everything in moderation, so while alcohol isn't totally off the table, intake should be limited.
  • Avoid smoking

    —While any form of smoking can negatively impact your health, there is also evidence that smoking not only impacts cardiovascular health (and in turn, blood flow), but testosterone levels as well.

As with most things, you don't want your testosterone levels to be too high or too low. You'll want them to stay in the Goldilocks zone of just right. To make sure you're on the right track and keeping those testosterone levels where they need to be, it might be a good idea to get them tested. Life Extension recommends optimal free testosterone to be between 15-25 pg/mL and serum testosterone to be between 600-900 ng/dL.

Still not sure what you need? Try this men's health quiz to get personalized options for you!

References

By: Holly Denton, Health & Wellness Writer

Holly Denton got her degree in English Literature from Florida State University and spent a few years working in English education (building English as a Foreign Language curriculums, as well as teaching abroad) before joining Life Extension as a Proofreader.

Scientifically Reviewed By: Michael A. Smith, MD