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It happens to just about everyone: Your sex life ebbs and flows. Your age, health, and how you feel about your relationship can all have an impact. 

In some situations, nutritional supplements might help. But you need to look at the big picture first. Don’t be shy about telling your doctor what’s going on.

“Before trying an herb or a supplement, think about what you can add or subtract from your life: exercise, weight loss, treating a condition, or changing a medication. These can all help,” says Adriane Fugh-Berman, MD, an associate professor of pharmacology at Georgetown University.

Most of the attention about sex and supplements focuses on men. But what might work for a man doesn’t necessarily work for a woman, Fugh-Berman says. Both sexes have options.

For Women

Iron: If you are low in iron, it might dim your libido. This includes desire, arousal, lubrication, and ability to have an orgasm.

In one study, women noticed improvements after they took iron to correct a shortfall of that nutrient.

Too much iron is bad for you. More than 20 milligrams of iron a day can cause constipation and other kinds of stomach upset. More than 60 milligrams at once can be life-threatening.

Tribulus terrestris is a fruit-producing Mediterranean plant that's covered with spines. It's also called puncture vine.

People use the fruit, leaf, or root of the tribulus plant as medicine. Some formulations also include other ingredients.

In a small study, women with low sexual desire disorder took 7.5 milligrams of Tribulus terrestris every day for 4 weeks. They said were doing better with their desire, arousal, lubrication, orgasm, and satisfaction, and they had less pain during sex.  

Maca,also known as Peruvian ginseng, is a South American root vegetable.  If you are taking an antidepressant that makes you lose your sex drive, maca may help, according to one small study.

“Because it’s a food, it’s probably safe to try,” Fugh-Berman says. But she recommends you skip it if you have an estrogen-sensitive cancer or condition because it could raise your estrogen levels. If you have sexual side effects from antidepressants or any other medication, ask your doctor if you can change your medication before you turn to a supplement.

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