Q. I have a friend who has become religious. She’s not married and she would like to stay celibate, but she does have a very large libido.
She’s wondering if there is anything that could help her keep it under control. She’s not interested in medication, but has no objection to herbs.
A. We consulted herbal expert Dr. James Duke, author of The Green Pharmacy (Rodale, 1997). He suggested your friend consider an extract of chaste tree (Vitex agnus-castus).
Although there doesn’t seem to be a lot of scientific research on the topic, folklore maintains that this plant can suppress libido. The spicy berries were once known in Europe as “monks’ pepper” and were used in monastery cooking in the belief that they would diminish sex drive.
Not long after this Q&A we got this interesting message:
Q. I was fascinated to read that there is an herb that women can use to reduce sexual urges. Does it work for men?
My husband would like sex every day, which I find excessive. Would there be any danger in giving him chaste tree berry to cool him down?
A. Chaste tree (Vitex agnus-castus) was once reputed to lower libido. These days the extract of chaste tree berry is popular with women treating premenstrual or menopausal symptoms. Whether its hormone modulating action could be hazardous to men is unknown. We cannot guarantee that this herb would dampen your husband’s desire.
Most people assume that men are always the ones with big libidos and women struggle to keep up. That is not always the case. We have heard from many women that their sex drive outpaces their partners libido. Here are just a few of the many sad stories people have shared on this website:
“I have been married for a dozen years and am very much in love with my husband. He is no longer interested in me.
“It is really strange. I believe he loves me with all his heart and me vice versa but sex, or satisfying my specials needs are not important to him.
“He has a problem with erections and states that the drugs for this condition are just to expensive, but he spends money on what he wants to spend money on. I guess since he does not need or want sex any more that that is not a priority to spend money on. Since it seems to be only my problem he doesn’t care.
“I want and need sex. Is there a drug to kill my libido? I am going crazy without his attention sexually.”
Sign me Miserable.
“My husband and I have been married just over two years, but have been close friends for over 15 years. I loved him from the day I met him, and have wanted to be with him since I was a teenager, and now to my great bliss, we are finally together. Our marriage and relationship are perfect in almost every way. We have wonderful communication, and are truly best friends.
“He is romantic and attentive and very physically affectionate (as in hugging, kissing and cuddling.) All my friends have said that they wish their husbands were more like him, and that we live a charmed life. For the most part I agree…I love him beyond the ability of human words to describe.
“BUT…I have a very high libido. I have always had a slightly above-average sex drive for a woman, but it has increased even more in the past two years. I have an abnormally high testosterone level. So, in other words, I basically have the sex drive of a teenage boy at this point. Another reason is the very fact that I am at last married to the man I loved from afar and dreamed of being with for over half of my life.
“The problem is, his sex drive no longer even comes close to mine. At best we might have sex two or three times a month.
When we do have sex, it’s almost always me who initiates it. When we have sex, it is incredible, and he enjoys it very much as do I.
“He often says he is “too tired” for sex. That makes me feel selfish for asking. I think he may have some erection problems, which might also be contributing to the problem.
“I would love to find something to take that would just put a damper on my sex drive so that I wouldn’t feel like I am pressuring him for more than he can give because he is always so tired. I feel like I am making him think that all that matters to me in our relationship is sex and that is NOT the case!”
Sign me Mrs.
Talking about sex is difficult under the best of circumstances. That said, we believe that open communication is essential for couples dealing with differences in sex drive. A sex therapist or a counselor who is skilled in this delicate area can be especially helpful.
Please share your story below. How have you coped with differences in sex drive in your relationship?