By TAP Integrative

Problems with sexual function can cause significant emotional and psychological distress and lead to dissatisfaction in romantic relationships. In women, sexual dysfunction stems from a complex set of issues – including hormonal balance, psychosocial dynamics and environmental factors.

Balance of estrogens and androgens is essential to healthy sexual function in women. Estradiol stimulates vaginal lubrication and blood flow—both of which are key to arousal and orgasm. Free testosterone is associated with sexual desire. To function properly, estradiol and testosterone must remain in balance. When testosterone levels decrease while estradiol levels remain steady, women can experience decreased libido, reduced interest in – and pleasure from – sex, diminished sense of wellbeing, depressed mood and fatigue.

Because of these links between low testosterone levels and sexual dysfunction, some practitioners offer transdermal testosterone patches to women experiencing low libido and satisfaction. However, supplementing with testosterone may increase risk of thrombosis in women, and long-term effects haven’t been determined.

A natural therapy that is gaining attention is fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum). This botanical extract is rich in steroidal saponins that have been shown to increase sexual function in men. In a 2015 study in the journal Phytotherapy Research, researchers evaluated the effects of fenugreek on sex hormones and sexual function in women with low sexual drive.

The double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled study included 80 women between the ages of 20 and 49. Participants were randomized to receive either a standardized fenugreek extract (600 mg/day) or placebo for 2 menstrual cycles. At baseline and 8 weeks, a number of hormone levels were measured. In addition, sexual function indicators, stress, fatigue and relationship quality were assessed.

The researchers identified a significant increase in free testosterone and estradiol, as well as sexual desire and arousal, in the treatment group compared with the placebo group. The results suggest this standardized fenugreek extract may be useful in treating sexual dysfunction in women.


 

Reference

Rao A, Steels E, Beccaria G, Inder WJ, Vitetta L. Influence of a specialized Trigonella foenum-graecum seed extract (Libifem), on testosterone, estradiol and sexual function in healthy menstruating women, a randomised placebo controlled study. Phytother Res. 2015;29(8):1123-1130.

 


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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