Just like their male counterparts, as women age, they can have problems with their sexual function. Last week, I told you all about the best ways for men to improve their sexual health. But now it’s the ladies’ turn.
Sexual health especially affects women as they get older and the symptoms can be quite varied. Typically, the various complaints range from lack of lubrication, pain during intercourse, lack of sexual interest, and decreased orgasmic ability. Most of these complaints are caused from declining blood levels of estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone attributed to the aging process. Here are my recommendations for some important nutrients which can help boost your sexual health:
Soy foods contain chemicals known as isoflavones which act somewhat like estrogen in your body, but are much weaker. In Japan, it is customary for females to consume 20-30 grams of soy per day in the form of tofu. These women have fewer menopausal complaints; less sexual dysfunction; and a lower risk of heart disease, cancer, and osteoporosis because of their high intake of soy isoflavones.
These specialized chemicals act like estrogen in the female body so vaginal dryness and lowered libido become much less of a problem and women who consume more soy have been shown to suffer less menopausal symptoms and experience improvements in their quality of life!
I recommend a daily intake of 200-300 mg of soy isoflavones which translates to approximately one cup of soy beans. Soy beans, tofu, and soy flour contain the highest amounts of soy isoflavones.
Increasing your intake of vitamin E-rich foods such as nuts, seeds, wheat germ, and vegetable oils can help boost your levels of circulating hormones. Natural vitamin E, taken as a daily supplement in a dose of 400-800 International Units (IU) can also be helpful to improve vaginal dryness. You can also use a vitamin E cream or ointment to improve vaginal wall blood supply, decrease vaginal inflammation, and help prevent vaginal dryness.
I recommend that women consume one to two servings of vitamin E-rich foods daily.
MORE: The vitamin E debate
This mineral is found in meat, seafood, beans, and poultry. Zinc is an important mineral to maintain female sexual function, because it positively affects testosterone levels. In a female body, testosterone is extremely important to maintain the sexual response and the desire which precedes it.
Supplements containing 10 mg of zinc citrate can also be used. Foods containing higher amounts of zinc should be eaten daily.
Aging is associated with lower levels of zinc intake and absorption, so I recommend eating one to two servings of zinc-rich foods every day.
Allahdadi, K.J., et al., “Female sexual dysfunction: therapeutic options and experimental challenges,” Cardiovasc Hematol Agents Med Chem. October 2009; 7(4): 260-9.
Basaria, S., et al., “Effect of high-dose isoflavones on cognition, quality of life, androgens, and lipoprotein in post-menopausal women,” J Endocrinol Invest. February 2009; 32(2): 150-5.
“Dietary supplements fact sheet,” National Institutes of Health web site; http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/list-all/, last accessed May 6, 2013.
Vecchio, M., et al., “Treatment options for sexual dysfunction in patients with chronic kidney disease: a systematic review of randomized controlled trials,” Clin J Am Soc Nephrol. June 2010; 5(6): 985-95.