The coming of Viagra raised the issue of male impotence. But what about the female libido? Women’s sexual problems are widespread, writes Catherine O’Brien. Fortunately, some natural remedies are close at hand.

So popular is the wonder-drug Viagra that it is set to save the panda population in China. Scientists have been experimenting with the little blue bullet after traditional Chinese medicine failed to lift the animals’ libido.

Yet while the seriousness of impotence in men has finally been brought to light, the taboo subject of female sexual dysfunction remains both little understood and largely ignored..

According to psychotherapist Vivien Turner, inorgasmia or the inability to have an orgasm is a widespread problem. Turner, who specialises in treating sexual problems (both male and female), says it can be more difficult for a woman to have an orgasm as her sexual equipment is inside her body.

“Many women are raised to believe sex is a messy, uncomfortable business that must be endured in order to reproduce. They are not allowed to feel sexual and it’s difficult to change this mindset,” she says.

An added problem in crowded cities like Singapore and Hong Kong is that many couples are living with parents or sharing a bedroom with their children. Consequently, overcrowding and lack of opportunity become legitimate barriers to sex.

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Turner helps her clients overcome these barriers and explore their sexuality with individually tailored programmes. “Some women are very shy about their sexuality and find it difficult to experiment with sex and their role within a sexual relationship.”

Although her male patients generally don’t suffer the same guilt or shyness about sex, many of them come to her with an inability to perform with their partner following the birth of a baby.

“Once their partner has a baby they [the women] are no longer seen as sexual objects. The man now sees his partner as a mother and his mindset about her sexual role becomes very different. This can be compounded by the woman’s own feelings, not just about being a mother, but also about the altered shape and function of her body,” she adds.

Herbal remedies

While the endless array of medicinal and herbal products available focus primarily on increasing the male sex drive, there is little out there for women. Deer antlers and penises of the Siberian tiger, the crocodile, not to mention the deer stag have been dismembered, powdered and pickled for centuries to increase sexual prowess in men, but the female libido is consistently overlooked.

While we await the advent of the female Viagra, women in need of a sexual boost can try Herbal vX, an herbal extract that has been found to improve libido and enhance sexual activity. The supplement, extracted from the bark of a Brazilian shrub, Muira Puama, or potency wood, has enjoyed centuries of success among native South American Indians.

Herbal-vHerbal-v was originally developed to treat male impotence. A study of 2,000 men, carried out by Dr Jacques Waynberg from the Institute of Biosexology in Paris, showed a 63 percent success rate after just two weeks of taking the product, without any side effects.

Although Waynberg has been using Muira Puma (as Herbal vY) on his male patients for more than 10 years, the female version (Herbal vX) – which was created using the same dose of the extract, but with ginkgo biloba – is relatively new to the market. Its mechanism remains unclear but the extract seems to work by enhancing both the psychological and physical aspects of sexual function.

The Herbal vX formula has been a big hit with women in the UK. Research there estimates that one in five women are unable to enjoy sex, saying that they are too tired, too stressed or simply that they prefer to go shopping than bed hopping. Although little research has been carried out in Hong Kong, it’s hard to believe that statistics would be too different.

Initial results from Herbal vX trials, carried out by Dr Sarah Brewer in the UK, showed a significant rise in libido in over half the 500 women studied. Dr Brewer, author of Increase Your Sex Drive, comments that the women taking Herbal vX were actually beginning to initiate sex instead of just tolerating it.

Michelle Hale, 30, one of the study’s participants says, “After my little boy was born, I lost my sex drive. I felt tired all the time and couldn’t be bothered. Now, after just a month’s trial, I feel so much more energetic and more attracted to my husband.” Turner is optimistic about Herbal vX but says that more research is needed on the product.

Tantric sex

The benefits of the ancient Indian art of Tantra gained notoriety after stars such as Sting, his wife Trudi Styler and Woody Harrelson openly began to tout its merits. An esoteric blend of sex, heart and spirit, connecting sexuality and emotions with meditation and spiritual awareness, Tantra has been with us for centuries.

The Tantric art helps both partners learn how to extend sexual pleasure via breathing, meditation and visualisation techniques – all geared to connecting with a partner’s energy or chakra. “It’s a positive philosophy,” attests Turner.

“Sex should be joyful, playful and fun – not dirty. And that’s what this is about…

But every couple is different. In Turner’s clinic, treatment is tailored to individual needs when problems exist. However, she says that eating sensibly and being in good shape are fundamental ingredients for rewarding sex.

“Make sure your body is in optimal working order. This helps release tension, loosen the muscles and increase oxygen flow.”

Vivien Turner can be contacted at +852 2523 8044. Herbal vX and vY ($295) are available from The New Age Shop, 7 Old Bailey Street, Central Hong Kong. Further information on Tantra is available at: www.martinj.dircon.co.uk or www.tantra.com .

Nature’s cures

Ginkgo Biloba : In addition to an encyclopedia of benefits, Ginkgo biloba extract increases blood flow to the genitals. Effective results have been seen with long-term use.

Fenugreek (Trigonella foenum graecu or Greek Hay): Originally from India, Africa and the Mediterranean. It may increase sexual pleasure in women by eliminating or minimising vaginal dryness.

Anise & Star Anise (Pimpinella anisum): One of the oldest medicinal herbs from Africa and Asia with 150 different species. Anise has been found to increase sexual desire and intensity in some women. The active ingredient is anethole, which mimics the female hormone oestrogen.

Damiana (Turnera diffusa): A small shrub-like plant native to Mexico. Air old folk- remedy used to treat urinary and sexual problems among the Maya Indians of Yucatan, Damiana increases oxygen supply to the genital areas.

Sarsaparilla (Smilax officinalis): A prickly climbing vine with long creeping roots. A native of the Caribbean, it is used to increase sexual desire.

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