As sex coaches, we’re no stranger to the idea that the most important sexual organ is the brain. This concept explains why individuals with normal vascular function might still experience sexual dysfunction. This, coupled with the lack of conclusive research supporting many sex supplements on the market, means there is plenty of room for debate on whether sexual supplements are effective or not.

This article will explore what we scientifically know, what we don’t, and what sex coaches need to know about the supplements on the market. For the purpose of this article, sexual supplements are supplements made from natural substances that may contain amino acids, vitamins, herbs, and minerals marketed for either sexual enhancement or maintaining sexual wellness.

Sexual supplements are trending harder than ever. With names such as “Sex Dust” and “In the Mood” put out by companies like “Moon Juice” and “Love Wellness,” they’ve received a fresh look in recent years, with promotions designed to light up your Instagram feed. At first glance, this makeover suggests a positive move toward open and supportive discussion about sexual concerns. 

While this might be true,  some supplements can actually be dangerous, while others can be a hit to your wallet with lackluster results. This is why it is more important than ever for sex coaches to have a basic understanding of sexual supplements on the market. Plus, they’re more prevalent now since they are no longer consigned to the back corner of your health food store, back page of adult magazines, or by prescription only. 

What Can Sexual Supplements Do?

When considering the role that sexual supplements may play in a client’s action plan, sexual supplements might make sense as potential actions steps in either the (M)ind or the (B)ody aspects of the MEBES model. If not physiologically, those that work via placebo will, in effect, be working on the mind. So, what do sexual supplements claim to do?

The following claims were taken from several different products. As you read through them, consider which ones have a more concrete and traceable effect on the body and which ones may have taken creative license with the effect of these herbs on the body and mind.

  • Promotes Healthy Sexual Response & Pleasure
  • Inspire sexual vitality
  • Increase blood flow
  • Reduce vaginal dryness 
  • Ignite creative energy inside and outside the bedroom
  • Support health, hormone balance, and juiciness 
  • Ignite desire 
  • Strengthen sensation 
  • Reduce stress
  • Support vitality
  • Boost libido 
  • Release endorphins
  • Support stamina
  • Physical Bliss 

It’s important to note that while some products claim “enhanced sexual pleasure” and others increase blood flow, it’s through the act of increasing blood flow that one might experience enhanced sexual pleasure. Developing a keen eye for marketing language may help your client choose the supplement that’s right for them. As always, urge your client to check with their physician first. 

When it comes to ingredients, you’ll find sex supplements with:

  • L-arginine: circulation and blood flow
  • Ginseng and ashwagandha: adaptogens that help reduce stress
  • Taurine: energy
  • Maca, aka Peruvian ginseng: adaptogenic herb to support energy and vitality
  • Niacinamide (vitamin B3): helps support blood flow
  • Vitamin D: support and improve mood
  • Shatavari: hormonal balance and juiciness
  • Shilajit: aphrodisiac and libido booster
  • Epimedium aka “horny goat weed”: ignite desire and strengthen sensation
  • Schisandra: increase blood flow and energy
  • Cacao: stimulates endorphin release
  • Maca: support mood, energy, and healthy sexual function

Do Sexual Health Supplements Actually Work?

a woman in a field with her arms lifted

Photo by Maksim Goncharenok from Pexels

Almost all of these will feature an asterisk after their listing that leads the consumer to the fine print that reads: “These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.”

Dr. Michael O’Leary, a urologist at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital says that, with a few exceptions, most supplements for sexual function haven’t been studied scientifically and, at best, they have a placebo effect. 

“That’s not trivial in itself,” he notes. “For example, when researchers did clinical trials for the prescription medication sildenafil [Viagra], the placebo response was about 30%. Which tells you that the most important sex organ you have is your brain. In men, the brain controls the stimulus to get blood flow to the penis, and furthermore, it controls orgasm and ejaculation. That’s why a lot of people with normal vascular function still have sexual dysfunction.”  

So what about those exceptions?  Dr. O’Leary says that L-arginine and Yohimbine have been shown in studies to have a positive effect on sexual dysfunction, but says that, “…. putting that into a pill isn’t proven to produce an erection,” and warns people with heart disease should avoid it. 

A study of L-arginine’s effect on heart attack survivors had to be stopped early after six people taking the supplement died. While Yohimbine does promote penile blood flow, it may damage heart function and can cause high blood pressure, headaches, agitation, insomnia, and sweating. 

Implications for Sex Coaches

As sex coaches, we should stay up to date about the latest sexual supplements that may be appearing in our client’s feeds. With trendy minimalist design and fun hashtags, clients may be considering purchasing sexual supplements they otherwise wouldn’t have looked for themselves if it wasn’t for their preferred platform. 

We can advise them on potentially dangerous side effects, the efficacy of the supplement they want to try, and guide them in either their use of these products or in finding alternative solutions to the issues they hope these products will magically fix.

As sex coaches, we may want to consider shifting the focus toward other aspects of a client’s MEBES© model. As Dr. Adriane Fugh-Berman, an associate professor of pharmacology at Georgetown University says, “Before trying an herb or a supplement, think about what you can add or subtract from your life: exercise, weight loss, treating a condition, or changing a medication. These can all help.”