Menopause Education: Increasing Sex Drive

Spice up your Sex Life:  Herbs that will do the Trick
Interviewer: Gail Edgell

Gail Edgell: Could you tell us why a woman’s sex drive varies during her perimenopause and menopausal years?

Dr. Chilkov: The female sex drive, or libido, is very complicated. It’s not about one thing. Certainly, in the context of this interview, I want to talk about exhaustion, adrenal stress and depletion, alongside changes in estrogen. All of these things work together to decrease a woman’s sex drive. The idea is not to use something that will titillate for the evening, but something that will really build sexual health and well-being over time. I am going to talk about things that women can take every day to nourish themselves at a very deep level, so that they still will feel vital sexually. We are going to talk about herbal medicines.

The Chinese associate health and longevity with libido and sex drive. The Chinese talk a lot about nourishing Qi and nourishing essence. Qi (pronounced “chee”) is the Energy of Life that is circulating through all living things. When the smooth and harmonious flow of the Qi is disturbed, or when Qi is depleted, illness and disease arise. Some tonic herbs do that in particular for sexual vitality. These are herbs that are more like concentrated foods; they are not drug-like. It’s like taking a very concentrated kind of vitamin for your sexuality. I am going to talk about a few herbs that are traditionally used in Chinese Medicine for sexual tonics. The first herb is Epimedium.

Epimedium’s common name is “Horny Goat Weed,” which says it all. It was originally discovered by herders who watched the animals eat it and saw that they wanted to have more sexual activity. This is an herb that is used by both men and women. But it’s really one of my favorite herbs for women. It’s really great for osteoporosis and preserving bone density. It’s also a slightly calming herb and will decrease high blood pressure. This herb is what the Chinese call a “yang” tonic. It really, really boosts your energy, and you feel a lot more vibrant.


Gail Edgell: Is it best to take this herb in the morning?

Dr. Chilkov: It’s not a stimulant like caffeine, so it’s not a problem in that way. That is true of all the herbs that we are going to talk about today.

Ginseng is another very famous and well-known herb. I primarily recommend American Ginseng for women because American ginseng nurtures the “yin,” or the feminine moist aspect. It’s also a very potent natural aphrodisiac that elevates hormones and neurotransmitters and increases blood flow to the sexual organ in a way similar to how Viagra works, only milder. Ginseng is great in post-menopausal women because it can prevent the natural atrophy, or shrinking, of some of the vaginal tissues.

Ginseng is one of the most strengthening herbs in terms of a woman’s vital energy, or Qi. It also helps her adapt to stress. A lot of people lose their sex drive, or their libido, because they’re stressed out and exhausted. Nature is wise. If a woman only has a certain amount of energy to spend, Nature will have her conserve it and not spend it on sex, especially if there is not enough to go around. If a woman is feeling lethargic, she wants to nourish her energy. This herb will give her more sexual energy overall.

Both of these herbs, Epimedium and Ginseng, will also work on a deeper layer of the nervous system to allow a woman to be relaxed and excited at the same time. That is much more preferable to being wound up and stimulated.

Ginseng should be used long term, on a daily basis, to really enhance a woman’s sexual vitality. Most of these herbs are not used by themselves; they are typically used in combination with other herbs to increase sexual potency.


Gail Edgell: Will it say “American Ginseng” on the product label?

Dr. Chilkov: Yes. You will see that Ginseng can be labeled as Korean Ginseng, Chinese Ginseng or American Ginseng. Women can use Chinese Ginseng and Korean Ginseng. But American Ginseng is much more balanced for them.

The next herb that I want to talk about is called Cordyceps. This is one of the great shining stars in Chinese Medicine, particularly in terms of aphrodisiacs. I will also say that it is one of the great herbs in cancer care and immune stimulation. But it’s a very powerful sexual stimulant as well. A woman is building her sexuality and her immunity when she uses an herb like this. She will want to take it on a daily basis, combined with Ginseng and Epimedium. Over time, she will feel much, much more vibrant. Cordyceps has been shown to provide significant improvement in the treatment of sexual function. It’s also used in men to treat impotence. It’s very safe, and it increases endurance, vigor and energy. Even athletes use this herb.

There is a fourth herb that I want to talk about that is not a Chinese herb. Maca root is an herb from Peru. It has been used for thousands of years in South America for boosting sexual health, libido and fertility. I have found that when estrogen starts to decline, Maca root is one of the best herbs for giving a woman balance. It helps smooth the menopausal journey. This herb also has a lot of minerals, enzymes and amino acids. These are all very important for normal sexuality and a high libido. It really increases desire.

I want to emphasize that these four herbs that I have mentioned — Epimedium, American Ginseng, Cordyceps and Maca root — are all safe to use. These herbs are widely used in China. Many people over 40 take tonics like these. It’s comparable to taking a multivitamin.

These herbs will reduce menopausal symptoms. They will regulate hormonal irregularities and smooth out the menopausal transition. For women who are still menstruating, it will ease their cycles. These herbs do this by leveling out mood fluctuations and helping with mental acuity, concentration, stamina and vitality. These are not herbs that a woman only wants to use the night before she wants to have sex. These are herbs that need to be used on a daily basis, so that she feels like having sex more often and has the energy to do it.


Gail Edgell: Do you typically take the last one, the Maca root, in combination with the other herbs that you mentioned?

Dr. Chilkov: Each one of these herbs can be taken alone. But the real art of herbal medicine is making balanced formulas. As an herbalist, I find it much more effective and much more balanced, even much more elegant, to make a formula that is tailored for an individual. You will see that if you look at a good natural food store, or if you live in a city where there is a Chinatown, that the formulas are always found in combinations. You can also buy very expensive Ginseng root that is prepared in a very special way.


Note: This article is an edited transcript of an audio interview. Changes have been made.

Women and Sex Drive – Sex It Up!

Is Yohimbe the Answer?
Expert’s Name:  Deb Smith


What is happening to our feminine desire?

What I’ve found from years of listening to heartfelt stories from women of all ages, and all walks of life, is that the lack of desire stems from many factors.

I know that for the majority of women who come for coaching one of the major reasons for their lack of desire is that that have never had a deep personal connection to or enjoyment of their sensual selves to begin with. They have never fully embraced their sensuality and enjoyed it to its fullest potential. They confide that sex has been more of a duty, something expected of them, a way to entice and get a man to marry them, a way to keep their man and for acceptance and security. These are just a few of the reasons clients cite for having sex. So no wonder after years of pretense and unsatisfying sex they lose their desire all together.

Then as women hit peri-menopause our progesterone and then testosterone levels begin to decrease and fluctuate. This is when a large portion of women tell me they could care less about sex. However, the pressure to be sensual and sexual is still there especially if we are married and our partners want a satisfying sexual relationship.

Another factor in our lack of desire is being “just plain old tired.” This has a lot to do with how we handle stress, if we’re not getting enough sleep, if we have burned out our adrenal glands, or we lack of good nutrition, exercise and pleasure. It can also be the medications we’re on and our declining hormones after the age of 40.

Oh no it’s sounding pretty dismal isn’t it? Well I’m here to say and I’m proof positive, that there is hope and several solutions to bring back and to embrace your feminine sensual/sexual desire.

1. See an informed, open minded physician that knows the latest natural and bio-identical hormone solutions and information. Get a blood or saliva test that tests all your hormones, thyroid and adrenal glands.

2. Take time for pleasure – warm bath, gardening, dancing, meditation, yoga, sensuality or whatever brings you joy and pleasure.

3. Get 8 hours of sleep.  I know if your hormones are out of balance this may be difficult until you balance your hormones.

4. Attend a workshop or get coaching that will assist you in celebrating and honoring your feminine sensual essence.

5. Love and appreciate your body just like it is today.

6. Think sensual, sexy, juicy, luscious thoughts. Our mind is our biggest sex organ.

I know this for a fact from my many years of coaching. My male clients and  friends tell me that when we are confident in our sensuality and we feel and act sensual … WE ARE SEXY PERIOD!.We don’t have to have perfect bodies, the most “beautiful” looks, the latest fashions or be young. It’s time ladies to own and celebrate our feminine sensual essence.

I’ll Have What She is Having

I’ll Have What She is Having

Way to Increase Sex Drive

Guest Expert:  Anna Cabeca

If you’ve watched the Katz’s Delicatessen scene in the movie “When Harry Met Sally,” you can’t help but ardently admire Meg Ryan’s acting ability as Sally.  She is sitting at a deli table with ‘Harry’ (Billy Crystal) and proceeds to fake an orgasm right there in the restaurant to prove a point to Harry that women can and do indeed, with great gusto and authenticity, really fake orgasms from time to time.  The middle-aged woman sitting across from her table watches with great fascination as Sally enacts this sexual scenario with great abandon and noisy, breathless exclamations.  When the waitress reaches the other woman’s table with an order pad, the gray-haired lady quickly exclaims, pointing in Sally’s direction, “I’ll have what she’s having!”  This customer undoubtedly made an unquestioning conclusion that there was a connection between something Sally ate and the spontaneous occurrence of what from all appearances certainly seemed to be a genuine and well above-average orgasm!  If such a menu item or diet was actually in existence in the real world today, no doubt, every woman would be saying, “I’ll have what she’s having!”

Well, while we may have enjoyed that movie scene, we know that there is no specified diet or food which magically increases sexual desire and sensitivity to the point of spontaneous orgasm (although I have read an article where a woman claimed that)!  However, from ancient times until now, many cultures have touted certain foods purported to enhance sexuality.  Many of these aphrodisiacs were rooted in superstition, and when modern human beings use them today they produce little or no effect.  However, there are some foods which the ancient peoples cultivated and ate which are still in existence today, and do indeed seem to have a libido-enhancing effect.  While ancient peoples often did not know the scientific reasons behind the aphrodisiac properties of the food, scientists today are able to break down the chemical composition of the food and make a scientific connection between certain chemical components and a rise in sexual desire or potency.  Foods that tend to produce a libido-enhancing effect usually contain compounds that improve one of three things:  (a) blood flow (b) brain or nerve circuit function or (c) hormonal balance.

Fish and seafood are one of the main dietary components in the “great sex diet,” mainly because of their higher concentrations of omega-3 fatty acids, essential for cellular diffusion and brain and nerve cell health.  Omega-3’s are also a precursor of  prostaglandins, hormone-like substances that play a large role in sexual health.  Walnuts and almonds are another major source of essential fatty acids.  Almonds in particular are vital to the production of male hormones (which are present in both males and females) and help to regulate sex drive.  Other foods aid in sexual function by enhancing blood flow because they contain arginine, an amino acid the body uses to synthesize nitric oxide within the endothelium (lining) of the blood vessels.  Nitric oxide causes blood vessels to expand, increasing blood flow and inducing engorgement of the sex organs to facilitate intercourse.  Some foods in which arginine occurs naturally are granola, oatmeal, peanuts, cashews, walnuts, dairy, green vegetables, root vegetables, garlic, ginseng, soybeans, chickpeas and seeds.  Foods containing anti-oxidants are also important for sexual health and stamina, as anti-oxidants neutralize free radicals, harmful molecules produced in a process called oxidation.  Some common anti-oxidant fruits and vegetables are tomatoes, red peppers, garlic, and spinach.

Other miscellaneous foods which by virtue of one or more chemical compounds they contain may support a healthy sex life are celery, pumpkin seeds, avocados, asparagus, figs, chili peppers, basil, cardamom (a spice),  and garlic.

Last but not least, a tuber root vegetable grown for centuries in Peru, called maca root contains a combination of starches, amino acids, minerals, fatty acids, and vitamins which is nature’s perfect formulation for balancing hormones.  It works better for menopausal women than HRT, since rather than supplying hormones for the body, it works on the pituitary and hypothalamus glands and stimulates them to make endogenous hormones in the appropriate amounts within the body itself.  It is actually consumed as a food in Peru, and the dried root can be purchased from health food vendors in other countries including the U.S.

While we don’t know what Sally was eating in the aforementioned movie other than a deli sandwich and a piece of pie, if her diet included any foods with omega-3’s, arginine, vitamin E, soy, or even Maca, well, then, I’ll have what she’s having!

To find out more about Dr. Anna Cabeca go to Menopause Experts.

Sexual Dysfunction and Psychology

Could your sex issues be in your head?

Guest Expert:  Anna Cabeca

Sexual dysfunction often has deep psychological roots. This is not to say those afflicted by sexual dysfunction are imagining everything; it just means that our beliefs and attitudes truly do affect our reality. There are most certainly physical causes for the disorder as well, since often sexual dysfunction in an individual is caused by several different factors which interact to produce the difficulty. Treating sexual dysfunction is definitely a multi-faceted approach, but understanding the deeply held emotional reactions of a patient toward sex can be the key to unlocking their difficulties in the bedroom.

Sexual dysfunction can often be traced back to a patient’s upbringing. Religion and culture play a very important role in defining who we are as we develop, and those raised in very strict religious families, or in cultures with punitive attitudes toward sex, often suffer from problems related to sexual functioning in adulthood. If we hold a very deep-set belief that what we are doing is wrong or dirty, then how can we possibly find enjoyment in that activity? If sex has always been associated in the mind with deviant behavior or punishment, it will be difficult to engage in sexual activities without a deep sense of guilt and shame – let alone actually enjoy it. For victims of sexual abuse, these beliefs can be particularly hard-wired and damaging. It is important to seek therapy and heal from past events, and learn to accept sex as a loving and nurturing behavior rather than a traumatic and abusive experience.

Treating sexual dysfunction often involves confronting these beliefs and changing attitudes toward sex so that it is viewed in a positive light, as a reflection of the love and intimate bond between a couple. These beliefs can function as an emotional wall in your relationship, separating you both psychologically and physically from your partner. My Sexual CPR course will give you all the tools you need to tear down that wall once and for all, and embark upon a journey of redisovery together as a couple.

To learn more about Dr. Cabeca go to Menopause Support.

Intimacy and Sexual Dysfunction

Guest expert:  Dr. Anna Cabeca

Sexual dysfunction affects millions of couples, and can be destructive to your self esteem as well as the intimate bond in a relationship. When couples begin to have problems within their relationships, trouble in the bedroom is one of the most common complaints and sources of stress.

Sexual dysfunction can manifest in several ways. Basically, there are four distinct areas of sexual functioning that can go awry: A lack of interest in sex, having interest but being unable to achieve arousal, lacking adequate vaginal lubrication, and being unable to achieve orgasm. All of these problems can seriously disrupt your sex life, which can in turn disrupt your entire relationship.

Treating sexual dysfunction involves looking into three key areas of the patient’s overall health. Medical health, for example, can affect your sex life. There may be a hormone imbalance, diet and exercise concerns, pain from childbirth, or other physical trauma that is impacting you sexually.

Also, emotional health is another key element to sexual health. There are many different ways that your emotional state can affect your sex life, and emotional healing can make an enormous difference in treating sexual dysfunction. This is not to say, “It’s all in your head”, because that is not the issue here. The truth is that the mind/body link is indeed very powerful, and to treat many physical problems we need to start with emotional or psychological healing.

The last key area that can impact your sex life is the health of the relationship. Sexual dysfunction can be just as much a symptom of relationship problems as it is sometimes  the cause. They really do go hand-in-hand much of the time, so treating sexual dysfunction can involve treating the couple’s relationship as a whole.

Luckily, sexual dysfunction is treatable. By paying attention to the importance of the problem, you have taken the first step to solving it. Before long you can get your sex life on track again, and enjoy those great intimate bonds you have been missing in your relationship.