Diet and Nutrition Q&A by Betty Kovacs

Is there anything I can eat to improve my sex drive?

Answer:

If the recipe for a better sex drive was found in food, grocery shopping would take on a whole new meaning! This is a great question that has some compelling and some controversial answers.

Before deciding which to foods to try, you will need to figure out if there is an underlying cause for lack of sex drive. And the best person to help you with this would be your doctor. The compelling answers are based on research and often revolve around uncontrolled medical conditions. Fortunately, your diet is a key factor in controlling many of these conditions. Here are some examples:

Diabetes

  • Men who have diabetes are three times more likely to have erectile dysfunction as men who do not have diabetes.
  • As many as 35% of women with diabetes may experience decreased or absent sexual response.
  • Keeping your blood sugar under control is the key. A diet rich in vegetables, lean meats, whole grains, and fresh fruit and with limited quantities of sugar, refined grains, and processed foods is one of the keys to this.

Obesity

  • Up to 30% of obese people seeking help controlling their weight indicate problems with sex drive, desire, performance, or all three.
  • One study showed that one-third of obese men with erectile dysfunction (ED) can regain their sexual activity after two years of adopting health behaviors, mainly regular exercise and reducing weight.
  • The dietary key to weight loss is to restrict your calories, and the best way to do this is through a plan that is individualized to meet your preferences and needs.

Erectile Dysfunction/Impotence

  • Mediterranean-style diet rich in whole grain, fruits, vegetables, legumes, walnut, and olive oil might be effective in reducing the prevalence of ED in men.

In addition to all of these, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and insulin resistance have also been shown to have an effect. Again, the dietary intervention for these would be to eat a diet high in vegetables, fruit, lean meats, low-fat dairy, and whole grains.

The controversial answers revolve around so-called aphrodisiacs. Aphrodisiacs are thought to be substances that can enhance sexual desire. While aphrodisiacs are not based on any scientific evidence, there are many people who do believe that they work. The most common dietary ones are oysters, chocolate, bananas, avocado, nuts, ginger, and olives. The food supplement DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone) has been used as an aphrodisiac. This supplement can have side effects, and its use should be approved by the doctor. Remember that there is no evidence to back any of these foods or supplements, and you do need to limit how much you eat, so do not go overboard or you can end up with the medical conditions listed above and have a whole new set of problems.

Thank you for your question.


Last Editorial Review: 12/31/2012