Excuse us for stating the obvious, but exercise is a proven mood-booster that helps keep you supple and energetic - all of which are key to a healthy sex drive. And a regular fitness regime enhances levels of the sex hormone testosterone in both men and women. A recent US study looked at women whose sex drive had been hampered by side effects from antidepressants. Researchers found that just 30 minutes of exercise immediately before having sex significantly improved the women's libido and ability to reach orgasm. The reason? It could be because exercise boosts blood flow to the genitals.
Want to try a slightly less energetic way of increasing blood flow to those all-important areas? 'It's worth trying a daily supplement of ginkgo biloba to boost circulation,' says GP and nutritionist Dr Sarah Brewer. 'Likewise, ginseng has been associated with sexual function for centuries, and it's been found that it improves sex drive.' Why? Ginseng contains an enzyme known as panquilon, which increases levels of nitric oxide - a nerve chemical essential for blood flow - in both male and female erectile tissues. Try Healthspan Gingko Biloba and Korean Ginseng (£4.22 for 120 tablets) from www.healthspan.co.uk.
'Upping your sex drive is all about boosting your endocrine system as this is the internal motor within us that secretes hormones into the blood and drives everything we do,' explains Sam Bearfoot, kinesiologist and founder of Body Sync. Her advice? Adopt a vitamin-rich diet teamed with a nutrient-packed supplement regime. 'A good vitamin C and B complex - as well as a glandular herb such as ginseng - will get your hormones rocking for all the right reasons,' she says. 'Supporting your endocrine system in this way will not only boost your sex drive, but also give you the energy to sustain it.'
Your bedroom should be used for two activities only: sex and sleep. And countless studies have shown that getting enough of the latter can help you get plenty more of the former. Sleep soundly and you'll have more energy, enjoy better health and feel better equipped to cope with that all-too-common passion-killer, stress. A word to the wise: try to ensure your other half gets a good night's rest, too. Men with poor sleep patterns have significantly lower levels of testosterone, according to a 2011 study from the University of Chicago.
Now, who'd have thought a couple of figs could put you in the mood for passion? Nutritionist Shona Wilkinson from Nutricentre, that's who! 'Figs are high in amino acids, which help increase libido and boost sexual stamina,' she explains. 'They also encourage the secretion of those come-and-get-me pheromones. So just before you slip between the sheets, aim to eat two or three figs. If you don't fancy eating them on their own, try adding to a salad or stirring into yoghurts.'
You didn't think we were going to get all the way through a list of health tips without extolling the virtues of omega-3 fatty acids, did you? Of course not! Here's Shona Wilkinson to explain why: 'Omega-3 is a multi-tasking hero. Among its many attributes, it's the building block of sex hormones in both men and women. It fights the build-up of plaque in the arteries, which in turn improves circulation and increase sensation. Omega-3 fatty acids also help with sexual response, raising levels of brain chemicals that trigger arousal.' Good sources include oily fish, walnuts, flaxseed and wild rice.
Effective exercise and strengthening of the pelvic floor and vaginal muscles boosts blood flow to the vagina, which can improve the intensity and frequency of orgasms. Indeed, women who rate their pelvic floor as 'good' or 'very good' are twice as likely to achieve vaginal orgasms as those that rate the area as 'poor' or 'very poor', according to a 2012 study of 5,000 women in the UK. So how can you tone up? The basic exercise is pretty simple: tighten your muscles as if trying to stop yourself from peeing for a few seconds, then relax. But for added resistance, try using a Pelvic Toner - the only clinically proven exerciser available on NHS prescription. Find out more at www.pelvictoner.co.uk.
The theory? Bach Original Flower Remedies harness the emotional healing powers of particular plants, some of which can help relight your passions. Alison Hunter-Pease from Nelson's Natural World recommends trying: Wild Rose 'to help shake off feelings of indifference and bring excitement back into focus'; elm 'to help you stay calm and in control' when you'd otherwise feel overwhelmed; or Crab Apple to 'help you feel comfortable in your own skin, so you are able to focus on your love life'. Simply add two drops to water then sip at intervals. Buy them from chemists and health food stores nationwide.
Need a last-minute libido-booster? Crack open the scented bath oil! 'Aromatherapy can be an effective way of boosting your mood and enhancing your sex drive,' says Sharon Lovett from Base Formula. 'US research has shown that certain scents can have a powerful effect on the olfactory bulb in our brains, which is part of the system that houses our sexual desires. Essential oils renowned for their aphrodisiac qualities include rose, neroli, sandalwood, ylang-ylang and jasmine. These can be used in various blends for a romantic massage or relaxing bath for two. Mix four to eight drops with a little milk first to help the oils disperse in the water, and add to the bath once the water has run.'
One final practical tip to pep up your passions: clear the bedroom of clutter. And we're not just talking about everyday mess here. Take a look around and try to identify other factors that could have been affecting your performance between the sheets. Ever get the feeling you're being watched, for example? Allowing the cat to lie on your bed or having a framed photograph of your parents on the bedside table could be deemed off-putting to some! And get rid of distractions such as mobile phones, tablets and laptops, too. If you're checking work emails last thing at night, it won't do much for your libido - or your partner's.
Posted by 11320Carol Muskoron