Ingredients with curious names, yohimbine, tribulus, muira puama, and remedies from the medieval alchemist, rhino horn powder, shark fin, goat herb in heat. Miracle pills that promise to rekindle sexual desire, ignite women bored from married life or those discouraged by the lack of pre-menopausal libido fuel an ever richer business. At the expense of effectiveness and, sometimes, even health.
Some studies estimate that between 20 and 35% of fertile women and between 55 and 65% of those in menopause (up to 80% in the case of surgical menopause) are affected. They range from a simple “drop in desire” (with a general prevalence of around 45%) to Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder (prevalent in 10%), in which fantasies and desire are insufficient or even absent.
Some doctors prescribe transdermal testosterone in an off-label mode (with administration different from the authorizations or indications), carefully monitoring the side effects. Others report the administration of DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone, the precursor of sex hormones) in menopausal women: it would improve the ability to get excited in case of decreased desire.
The use of supplements is on the rise: easy to find, even discounted on the web, do not require a prescription. However, unlike drugs, they do not have a specific activity, and they can indirectly improve sexuality, as they act on the state of health as tonic-energizers. Their present benefits also derive from the natural tendency: being natural derivatives they are considered less toxic, but this is also to a point. Herbs and natural ingredients do come loaded with their fair share of contraindications and side effects.
How important is the placebo effect? It can be overwhelming. However, supplements have the advantage of having little interaction with the drugs and few side effects. They have an adaptogenic function on health, above all.
What to keep in mind when taking a sexual supplement? These supplements act in a non-specific way: a scavenger of free radicals is a substance with antioxidant activity on all the body’s systems, not just on the sexual organs. Potentially effective supplements are those that have a more “pharmacological” than an integrative component, like Female Viagra. However, when we have a natural drug, compared to the synthetic substances of flibanserin (Addyi), sildenafil (Female Viagra) or bremelanotide (the new injectable drug currently in the pipeline and to be marketed under the fancy name of Vyleesi), we control neither dosage nor action. For example, in horny goat weed (epimedium) there is an alkaloid, whose overdose could create serious problems for a heart patient. Unfortunately, natural substances are characterized as potential poisons, as they are biologically active. And they must be taken with extreme caution.
How to choose a perfect sexual enhancer that is safe and effective? Specialists suggest being wary complex substances, as they contain ingredients that could be useful, as well as absolutely useless. The supplements have the objective of supplementing substances contained in a metabolic chain and that theoretically are already available to the organism. If you take a supplement to increase a component sufficiently present in the body you will not get the increase in organic function. Remember that even supplements require doctor’s approval, even though they are sold without prescription.