Viewing entries tagged
low libido


Treating Low Testosterone: Weighing Risks and Benefits

If you’re a man and feel tired, moody and uninterested in sex, you could have an easy fix: testosterone replacement. That’s the message men have been receiving from TV commercials urging them to talk to their doctors about low testosterone or “low T” levels and touting the beneficial effects of prescription gels to manage symptoms associated with low hormone levels.

“What do men do when a number’s too low? Turn it up,” says a 50-something actor touting AndroGel, a popular testosterone treatment for men with low T.

But is it really that easy?

Physicians who treat low testosterone say the condition is far more complex than the commercials make it seem, and that men need to be carefully evaluated to determine whether the treatment’s potential benefits outweigh possible health risks that still haven’t been fully explored in research studies.

What’s more, some men who really could benefit from the therapy may have been scared off by recent news reports warning about heart attack risks associated with testosterone replacement.

“There’s been a lot of confusion,” says Abraham Morgentaler, urologist at Beth Israel Deaconness Medical Center and director of Men’s Health Boston, a dedicated men’s health center.

Since testosterone levels tend to drop naturally as men age, a test to screen for low hormone levels should not be performed during a routine physical exam, according to the American Urological Association.

About 6 percent of men, however, have clinically low testosterone levels that cause troubling symptoms such as low sex drive, erectile dysfunction, sleep difficulties, depressed mood, low energy and low muscle tone. Some may develop osteoporosis or fractures from having too little of the sex hormone.

“Testosterone replacement therapy can help relieve symptoms in a lot of these men,” Morgentaler says. “It’s not perfect, but I don’t think men with symptoms should be scared off a therapy that’s working for them after reading news reports that it may cause heart attacks.”

Testosterone treatment can also cause side effects including shrunken testicles, hair loss, acne, breast enlargement and sterility.

Morgentaler and his colleagues recently conducted an extensive review of dozens of studies examining the risks and benefits of testosterone therapy and found only four that indicated an increased heart disease risk with the use of testosterone; two of the four studies had “serious methodological limitations” in terms of how they measured heart problems that developed in patients. Other studies found no increased heart risks, while others found that men with low testosterone levels had an increased risk of dying from heart disease if those levels went untreated compared to men who had testosterone treatment.

One of the more well-designed studies Morgentaler reviewed was a 2010 paper published in the New England Journal of Medicine which found that men over 65 with low testosterone levels who were treated with a daily testosterone gel for six months gained muscle strength and endurance compared to those who used a placebo gel – but testosterone users also had more heart attacks. Out of 209 study participants, 23 in the testosterone group had a heart attack or a blocked artery requiring treatment or died of heart problems during the study compared to five in the placebo group.

“There needs to be a bigger trial of cardiovascular risks with testosterone therapy to get the full answers,” Morgentaler says. 

The National Institutes of Health is sponsoring a multicenter trial of nearly 800 men ages 65 and older with low testosterone to get a comprehensive understanding of how the treatment affects walking ability, energy levels, sexual function and plaque buildup on the arteries, for example. Results are expected later this year.

Men with low libido, erection difficulties and other symptoms of low testosterone need to get their blood levels tested to see if treatment is warranted. Getting an accurate read of levels can be tricky, so Brand Anawalt, chief of medicine at the University of Washington Medical Center and chair of the Endocrine Society’s Hormone Health Network, recommends having the blood test at least twice to account for day-to-day variations. A morning draw after fasting for six hours is best to get an accurate measurement, he says, since levels tend to be highest during morning hours and when fasting.

As a rule of thumb, the lowest level of total testosterone considered normal in men is 250 to 300 nanograms per deciliter. Men with symptoms who have a level of 150 ng/dL would likely benefit from treatment, Anawalt says, even if there’s no explainable cause for their low levels such as testicular cancer, testicular injury, hormonal disorders, or chronic liver or kidney disease. Those who have an explainable cause and a level of 250 ng/dL or below would also warrant treatment, he adds.

“The controversy starts to bubble when a man has a level of around 250 ng/dL without any clear reason to explain his low levels,” Anawalt says. “In general, I tell men that the benefits of treatment are much smaller when levels are closer to normal.”  

Men who decide to get treated can choose between injections self-administered or given every one to two weeks, a skin patch or gels applied on the skin daily. The skin patch and gels are more expensive than shots costing about $180 to $300 a month, compared to $50 for generic shots. While shots are covered widely by insurance, Anawalt says, the patch and gels may not be. A new injection called Aveed only needs to be given every 10 weeks, but it costs the same as the gels, he adds, and many insurance companies aren’t yet covering it.

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5 Sexy Sips and Snacks That Increase Libido

Maca Buttercups by Lulu’s Chocolates
These dark chocolate and almond buttercups are infused with mood-boosting maca, a Peruvian root vegetable used by the Incans for thousands of years that reportedlyimproves libido. Studies have shown maca also has stress-reducing properties and helps people suffering from antidepressant-induced sexual dysfunction.

The Cleveland Clinic suggests consuming between 1.5 and 3 grams of maca daily to get its full passion-producing effect. Each buttercup contains 1.875 grams of maca, making this the perfect treat to share.

Maca Buttercups by Lulu’s Chocolates, $4.44 for 2 cups

The Libido Bar by Starbars

The raw, gluten-free, organic bar contains maca and a dose of raw cacao, which boasts high levels of phenylethylamine—a neurotransmitter often referred to as “the love chemical” since it’s one of the feel-good chemicals released by our brains when we’re happy and feeling passionate. Nibble on one of these after dinner and you just might end your evening on a high note.

Sweet Love Tea by Kusmi Tea
This sweet and spicy blend contains licorice root, pink peppercorn and guarana seed.

Though guarana has been promoted as anaphrodisiac, the seeds from this fruit actually work as a central nervous system stimulant due to its high caffeine content.

A 2008 study published in the journal Appetite found that guarana improved cognitive performance and reduced mental fatigue in a group of men and women compared to the group given a placebo. So if you’re feeling too flat-out tired to get busy with your sweetie, you could try sipping this tea. It may be just what the love doctor ordered.

Sweet Love Tea by Kusmi Tea, $15.50 for 20 tea bags

Ottimismo Quality of Life Organic Chocolate by Sabadì

The chocolate bar’s name translates to “optimism”—and if you and your significant other munch on this bar, good things may go down in the bedroom (wink wink). The organic chocolate bar contains panax ginseng and nutmeg—both of which are natural aphrodisiacs that increase sexual behavior, according to a March 2011 study published in Food Research International.

Ottimismo Quality of Life Organic Chocolate by Sabadì, $10, OpenSky

Get Passionate® - No.17 Herb Tea for the Libido by Republic of Tea

Looking for a love potion sans caffeine? Get Passionate No.17 Herb Tea for the Libido is a blend of organic red rooibos leaves with exotic muira puama bark and ashwagandha root (also known as Indian ginseng), as well as Peruvian maca root.

Sixty-five percent of women who participated in a study by the Institute of Sexology in Paris reported an improved sex drive after taking a daily supplement containing muira puama and ginkgo biloba for a month. Ashwagandha root (Withania somnifera), which has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years, is a known anti-stress agent—and stress is a surefire way to kill libido. Take a sip of this relaxing tea and you just might swoon.

Get Passionate® - No.17 Herb Tea for the Libido by Republic of Tea, $10.50 for 36 tea bags






How To Make Sex Coffee (Yes, It's A Real Thing!)


You already have a morning cup of coffee. Why not make it count?

Wake up your vroom-vroom with this suprisingly simple recipe: a cup of java, maca, cacao, and cinnamon. That's it! These raw foods have been used since ancient times to support your sexdrive and if you're not mixing these bad boys into your daily diet, you're missing out on some seriously sexy benefits.

Here's what each ingredient may do for you:

  • MACA: an Aztec root, usually ground into a powder.  An adaptogen, it supports your body in creating the enzymes it needs to balance hormones and enhance fertility. It's often touted as an aphrodisiac, which can increase libido.
  • CACAO: Raw cacao is a stimulant. It gets your blood pumping and triggers your body to release seratonin, which enhances mood. The Journal of Sexual Medicine published astudy that found women who ate chocolate daily scored slightly higher on the Female Sexual Index, aka the chart that measures female sexual function.
  • CINNAMON: Cinnamon promotes vital energy, keeping your body from that desire-sucking lag that can come after a busy day. 
  • HONEY: Honey may increase stamina, and has been shown to increase virility and fertility
  • COCONUT MILK: Many cultures have used coconut milk to naturally balance hormones and to increase sex drive. Full of healthy fats, coconut milk will give you energy for sex, without a nasty aftercrash. 

This coffee takes all five of these superfoods, and whips them into a gorgeous latte. To make it, you'll need a hand blender, and about five minutes from start to finish. Try making this coffee once a week, especially when you have time to sip slowly and really enjoy your day. You'll get your regular dose of caffeine, plus added boost from the world's most ancient sex-related superfoods. 


Try to make this coffee once or twice a week, when you want the added benefits of superfoods said to support sex drive. It tastes like a delicious, Aztec-spiced drink. If you've ever enjoyed Mexican Hot Chocolate, the flavor is very similar: dark chocolate, cinnamon, and just a touch of sweetness.

Makes 1. 

  • 2/3 cup hot coffee
  • 1 tablespoon raw cacao
  • 2 tablespoons coconut milk
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon maca

Pour coffee into a medium bowl. Add cacao, coconut milk, honey, and cinnamon. Whip with hand blender until frothy. Add the maca, whip once more, and serve immediately. Enjoy - and happy sexing! 

DISCLAIMER: This recipe makes no health-related promises. It simply offers a delicious way to enjoy superfoods said to support a number of health benefits. Consult with your doctor before adding any new or unfamiliar ingredients to your diet, especially if you're on medication.