The 4 best supplements for better sex

By Anastasia Climan, RDN, CD-N | Fact-checked by Barbara Bekiesz
Published March 19, 2024

Key Takeaways

  • The supplement industry is quick to promise better sex in a pill. While some supplements can impact sexual functioning, treating sexual health issues requires a deeper look at the physical and socio-emotional factors involved.

  • Nitric oxide may improve sexual performance for young men but poses dangers for people with heart conditions.

  • Ginkgo biloba supplementation has been said to increase blood flow, making it popular among women with sexual arousal disorder. However, your female patients may see better results with sex therapy.

Doctors already know that physical fitness, smoking cessation, and drinking less alcohol are some of the keys to better sex.[] However, that doesn’t stop patients from being interested in supplements that promise to deliver quick fixes in the bedroom. 

While many supplements marketed to improve sex have limited evidence behind their claims, it’s not a bad idea to brush up on the available research. These are the four best supplements for sexual wellness.


Ginseng has long been studied for its beneficial health effects. One study on 119 men found that Korean ginseng berry extract (350 mg per tablet, administered four times daily) significantly improved premature ejaculation and erectile dysfunction within 8 weeks compared to placebo.[]

Ginseng contains antioxidants and has been reported to boost physical performance and the immune system. Potential side effects include headaches, breast tenderness, and disruptions to sleep and menstrual cycles. 

Patients on antidepressants and certain heart medications may need to avoid ginseng due to possible interactions with MAOIs, diuretics, digoxin, warfarin, and some blood pressure medications.[]


Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) affects testosterone and estrogen levels, offering potential benefits for men and women who want to improve their sex lives.

DHEA has been studied for its ability to improve various aspects of sexual health, including infertility, low libido in women over 70, vaginal dryness, erectile dysfunction, mood, and fatigue.

There are several ways to take DHEA, including oral supplements, chewing gum, sublingual drops, and topical creams.[] DHEA levels are highest in the morning, so patients who supplement should take it early in the day to reflect the body’s natural rhythms.

As DHEA levels naturally decrease with age, people under 40 are not advised to take this supplement before being screened for low levels (under 130 mg/dL in women and less than 180 mg/dL in men). In addition, DHEA supplements may be dangerous for people with hormone-sensitive cancers. 

Nitric oxide or L-arginine

It’s not incorrect to count sex as aerobic exercise. Therefore, anything that boosts fitness performance is likely to help in the bedroom as well. A systematic review and meta-analysis confirmed the ergogenic effects of nitric oxide (NO3)—but only in male patients.[]

Based on the results of 80 studies with about 1,300 participants, the researchers estimated that healthy young men can expect a 3% increase in exercise ability with nitric oxide supplementation. (More research is needed to understand the impact on women.) To be effective, doses need to be higher than 5 mmol per day and must be administered more than 90 minutes before the activity, allowing enough time for the nitric oxide to be metabolized. 

Nitric oxide is also involved in the process of achieving an erection. However, barriers to local administration prevent its use as a direct treatment option.[] L-arginine is a precursor that the body uses to make nitric oxide, so people may use it as a supplement to boost their nitric oxide levels.

However, healthcare providers should be aware that L-arginine can be fatal for those with a history of heart attacks.

Ginkgo biloba

Gingko biloba remains a popular supplement for a range of conditions, including women’s sexual function and desire. Theories behind Gingko biloba’s sexual benefits stem from its ability to increase blood flow. More research is needed, as the primary study on this topic was completed in 2008, including a sample size of only 99 women.[] 

The women in this study were between the ages of 18 and 65 and had been diagnosed with sexual arousal disorder. The investigators evaluated the effects of a single 300-mg dose of Gingko biloba extract vs placebo. They also evaluated long-term effects over 8 weeks in 68 women—the study participants were randomly assigned to either 300 mg daily, a placebo, sex therapy, or Gingko biloba plus sex therapy. 

The results showed that Gingko biloba supplementation was more effective on markers like lubrication and arousal than placebo, but only when taken in combination with sex therapy.

The researchers concluded that Ginkgo biloba extract doesn’t provide a substantial short-term or long-term effect on sexual function beyond placebo, but sex therapy does.

What this means for you

The supplement industry is quick to promise better sex in a pill. However, treating sexual health requires a deeper look at the physical and social-emotional factors involved. Asking patients about their supplement use (and motivations for taking certain supplements) can help uncover underlying issues in their sexual functioning that could benefit further discussion.

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