Did you know that sex hormones are not only good for sex? It’s true that they increase our sex drive, but they do much more than that. In men, they are responsible for the masculine physical characteristics: muscle mass, energy, vigour, and libido. In women, they are responsible for the female physical characteristics: the ovulatory and menstrual cycles, maintenance of pregnancy (if one occurs), and libido. The main sex hormone in men is testosterone and the main ones in women are estrogen and DHEA. As we age past the age of 40, these sex hormones slowly decline. This decline is what is mainly responsible for the weaker sex drive, lower energy, less physical activity and decreased muscle mass.
There are a few ways that we can increase sex hormones. In men, the least healthy ways of doing this are either anabolic steroids or testosterone replacement in the form of patches or gels. The problem here is that anabolics are toxic to the liver, dilate the heart (which makes it harder for the heart to do its job), inhibit the natural production of testosterone and can lead to infertility. Testosterone replacement, although safer than anabolics , can cause heart attacks and strokes due to increased number of red blood cells (which makes the blood more viscous, predisposing one to complete blockage of an artery) as well as increased risk of prostate cancer or simply urination problems due to prostate enlargement. Steroid anabolics also cause these problems.
Women usually do not take anabolics or testosterone supplementation but it is important for women to maintain healthy adrenal glands, which is the site of DHEA production. This is a weaker androgenic substance in comparison to testosterone, but still very important for women’s sexual health.
So what are the safe and natural ways to increase sexual hormones for the benefit of having more energy, vigor and sexual drive, without running into the problems mentioned above? Well, there are actually a number of them. For women, as I mentioned, adrenal health is very important. These are two small glands found on top of the kidneys. They produce weak androgens, aldosterone (which is involved in sodium and blood pressure regulation), and cortisol which is the main stres0s hormone being released in order to adapt to stress of any kind. A very simple way to support the adrenals is by supplementing with vitamin C and magnesium. These two compounds are involved in multiple steps along the synthetic pathway taking place in these glands. Another fantastic supplement is the herb Ashwagandha , also known by its Latin name Withania somnifera. There are many studies supporting its efficacy for adrenal support, as well as decreased anxiety and fatigue. Another way to increase DHEA is to simply supplement with it. It is available as a natural health product and can be purchased without a prescription. Some women claim that it also helps them substantially with menopausal symptoms.
Supplements for men include three herbs that increase testosterone in a natural way. The first one on the list is Fenugreek. It was shown in studies to notably increase libido and testosterone levels. It also helps regulate blood sugar levels and is thus an effective compound for the treatment or prevention of diabetes. It is also a strong stimulator of milk production in lactating mothers. Fenugreek extract, which is more potent than the raw herb, can be found under the brand name Testofen. Another important herb is Eurycoma longifolia. It was traditionally used in Chinese medicine and in studies it was shown to increase both testosterone as well as the degree of erections. Finally, Tribulus terrestris also increases libido as well as the degree of erections. Its active compound is thought to displace naturally occurring testosterone from being bound to a protein to its free flowing form. Only the unbound testosterone is actually active to perform its role. Finally, a very important compound is zinc. Not only is it good for increased immunity but it’s also essential for the production of testosterone. There are many other herbs which have been shown to increase libido or the degree of erections, but none of them were shown to increase the level of androgenic hormones.