ColumnWe’ve talked a lot about the orgasm in this space before (and we surely will again), but it’s just one of many ingredients in the proverbial sexual feast. Find out how the food on your real dinner plate can affect your sexual appetites.
The four-stage model of sexual response goes like this: excitement/desire phase, plateau phase, orgasmic phase, and finally – resolution phase. But the most important spice isn’t even included in the list – libido.
Libido is complex animal, and its mysteries are not easily solved, particularly for women. Daniel Bergner posited some promising theories in his recent book What Do Women Want: Adventures In The Science of Female Desire, but the questions remain open. We can only answer them for ourselves (and have fun doing it). It’s not just about what we want, it’s about how often we want it, and why.
For the sake of this column, let’s put aside the myriad cultural and psychological complexities of women and desire. No matter who you are or what you want, there’s one fundamental we cannot ignore when it comes to libido: our physical health. We’ve all had a headache (the real kind) and thus decided to forgo a romp in the hay. But if the baseline health isn’t there, your libido can get stuck in a major funk.
We tend to think of blood flow issues as part of the male domain. We’ve all seen the cheesy couple in a Cialis commercial, dancing in their kitchen while the voice over says ,“It may only be an issue of blood flow, so see your doctor…” But guess what, ladies? Your sexual response also requires blood flow and engorgement. That’s where Nitric Oxide, a magical ingredient, comes in.
Nitric oxide is produced by the body, and it plays a huge role in both penile and clitoral response. Better known to chem nerds as NO, it also controls blood pressure, helps with heart and nerve function, fights infection, and more. In other words, it’s no slouch. (It won “molecule of the year” in 1992. Bet you didn’t know that molecules won awards, eh?)
How to Eat Your Way to a Better Orgasm
So how do you say yes to more NO? Well, it’s produced when you exercise; getting sweaty helps your body make more. So your next bikram yoga class can also be used to enhance your sex life.
But if you’re already pretty active, you can also eat your way to a better orgasm. L-arginine is an amino acid that converts to NO in your body – or, in science-speak, it’s an “oxidative precursor” to NO.
Want some L-arginine? You can find it in: almonds, chickpeas, coconut, flaxseeds, garlic, ginseng, greens, oatmeal, peanuts, root veggies, salmon, soy, sunflower seeds, tuna, walnuts, and chocolate. Some of the crossover items on this list–ginseng, soy, and chocolate– are also known to function as aphrodisiacs, so you’ll get double bang for your buck, so to speak. L-arginine is also available in supplement form – if you or your partner has a diagnosed sexual dysfunction, it might be worth looking into.
However, it’s important to note that there haven’t been any truly useful studies about arginine and sexual response in women. For men with ED, there is some evidence that it arginine works like Viagra – and it’s safer. Arginine has a lot of other benefits, too. But there are side effects, even though this is a “natural” supplement. Be particularly wary of arginine if you have herpes – it can aggravate your symptoms.
I believe that pleasure can and should be found along the way, and that it’s not always about the Big O. That said, there’s nothing wrong with priming your body for a better orgasm by eating better as well.
Got a question for Stefanie? Email email@example.com and she’ll answer it in the next Sexual Healing column.
Keep in touch with Stefanie on Twitter: @ecosexuality
Related on EcoSalon:
Slow Sex: Spring is for Shedding (Layers and Baggage)
The 9 Most Empowering Sex Positions for Women: Female Sexuality Remixed