By TAP Integrative

Intimacy and healthy sexual activity are important parts of life and relationships, but a number of factors—including aging, health conditions, and life experiences—can negatively impact both intimacy and sexual activity. While most of the attention on sexual dysfunction focuses on men, it affects many women as well.

In women, sexual dysfunction can manifest in a variety of ways. It can entail a lack of desire, difficulty becoming aroused, or inability to achieve orgasm. These disorders can be caused or aggravated by vaginal dryness, reduced sensation, and pain during intercourse. In most cases, the causes can be traced back to hormonal imbalances, neurovascular issues, or psychological causes.

Whatever the origin of sexual dysfunction, it can be troubling from both a physical and an emotional perspective. It can have a negative impact on the woman’s self perception and on her relationships. Thus, finding a solution can have far-reaching impacts.

One non-pharmaceutical approach to sexual problems both in men and women is use of herbal adaptogens. One of these herbs in particular, ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) is popular in Ayurveda, a traditional Indian healing system. Stress is associated with increased cortisol, which in turn is associated with gonadal and sexual dysfunction. Ashwagandha is known to reduce cortisol levels in chronic stress. Ashwagandha may also improve sexual dysfunction by increasing testosterone in women and thus offsetting androgen deficiency syndrome, a known contributor to sexual dysfunction.

In this double blind, placebo-controlled randomized pilot study, the effects of high-concentration ashwagandha root extract [KSM-66 (Ixoreal Biomed)] dosed at 300 mg twice a day for eight weeks in women with sexual dysfunction was analyzed. Results were reported using two psychometric scales and by the number of total and successful sexual encounters. Compared to the women in the placebo group, those taking ashwagandha had significantly higher levels of improvement in overall sexual function, as well as arousal, lubrication, orgasms, and satisfaction (p<0001). It did not have a significantly better effect on either pain or desire.

The researchers hypothesize that ashwagandha was effective for two reasons:

  1. It reduces stress, which in turn improves sexual function.
  2. It increases testosterone, and low levels of testosterone can be a cause of sexual dysfunction.

For women experiencing sexual dysfunction, ashwagandha may offer hope for improvement, which can have quality-of-life effects that reach far beyond the bedroom.

Reference:

Dongre S, Langade D, Bhattacharyya S. Efficacy and safety of ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) root extract in improving sexual function in women: a pilot study. Biomed Res Int. 2015;2015:284154.


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*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.