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Are Supplements the Solution for a Sex Life Gone South?


Women & Supplement Risks

What About Women?

There is no lack of over-the-counter alternatives sold as remedies for women's sexual complaints. What is lacking, in many cases, is scientific evidence to support the sex-saving claims. None of the herbal products promoted for female sexual dysfunction — not ginkgo, kava, saw palmetto — has been scientifically proven, so an approved drug prescribed by your doctor is usually the better bet.

A recent University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine study in a very narrowly defined population of women — those whose adrenal gland had been removed or was not functioning properly — showed that DHEA therapy can improve sexual quality of life (and learning efficiency and general feeling of health, as well). But the study found, too, that too much DHEA could be dangerous and possibly fatal in some older women.

There are external over-the-counter products that can make sex more pleasurable. A simple solution for many women who have lost that lubricated feeling as they have aged: a drugstore lubricant such as K-Y Jelly or Astroglide.

The Real Risks

Risks can be high from so-called alternative therapies because dietary supplements and other such non-drug remedies (technically, those that don't claim to affect "the structure or function" of the body) can be sold without being approved by the Food and Drug Administration based on safety and effectiveness. Recently, the two dietary supplement products Vinarol and Viga tablets, promoted for enhancing sexual desire and improving performance, had to be recalled because they could pose life-threatening health risks to some consumers. To minimize risks, purchase supplements from a reliable outlet and take them according to labeled directions, including recommended doses. To stay safest while trying these types of treatments, work with a doctor to choose the best ones for you.

Sufficient sleep, meditation and yoga are some risk-free recommendations for "balancing your life" and fighting back against sexual problems such as low libido, says integrative medicine physician Janine Blackman, M.D., Ph.D. Based on common sense—no clinical studies needed—the doctor with University of Maryland's Center for Integrative Medicine recommends a holistic mind-body approach for anyone trying to resuscitate a sinking sex life.


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