On Thursday, an FDA panel voted in support of approving the so-called "female viagra," or the drug flibanserin, which would help to increase a woman's sex drive. But it might be a while until it actually makes it on the market, as the panel said its final approval hinges on measures being taken to reduce the side effects. Until then, Dr. David Katz, President of the American College of Lifestyle Medicine and preventive medicine expert at Yale University, shares a few natural ways to get in the mood—no pill needed.
1. Have a glass of wine. While it doesn't have a direct effect on libido, it is disinhibiting, says Katz. "If you're feeling inhibited or awkward, it gets in the way," he says. "Alcohol allows the libido that's there to express itself more freely." But don't down an entire bottle—too much can interfere with sexual function, according to Katz and the Mayo Clinic.
2. Take a few deep breaths. Among many factors that can affect hormonal balance, stress is one of them. When cortisol levels go up, says Katz, natural sex hormones, like testosterone, are suppressed.
3. Exercise more often. "People who exercise routinely find it boosts mood and self-esteem," says Katz. "And, if you're feeling sexy, sex is far more appealing." Overall, a healthy lifestyle boasts many benefits for your sex life and your emotional health. "Feeling good about yourself is something of an aphrodisiac," says Katz. "The more content you are with your body, the more inclined you are to share it."
4. Resist sugary desserts. Elevated levels of insulin may disturb your normal hormonal balance, says Katz. An "excessive intake of refined starches or added sugars" can contribute to a rise in insulin, which may suppress testosterone levels, and therefore, sex drive.
While these lifestyle changes may subtly boost libido, Katz does have one caveat: "Sex drive is really only an expression of something more important." If you're having issues with your partner, those can just as easily affect your sex life, and the best way to handle those issues is through open communication. And if you still have a consistently low sex drive that lifestyle changes don't remedy, speak with your doctor.