A New and Clinically Tested Ingredient for Low Sexual Desire in Women

February 20, 2014

By Dr. Paul Clayton, Chief Scientific Advisor, Gencor

Low sexual desire is a very common complaint

The sexualisation of our culture may make life difficult for teens, but it also creates many problems for adults and older citizens. There is relentless pressure on women to perform, and to be receptive; but levels of sexual difficulties have never been higher, with different surveys recording low sexual desire rates ranging from 13% (Dennerstein et al ’06) and 19% (Leiblum et al ‘06) to 33% (Lauman et al ’99), 37% (Wasti et al ’93) and 46% (Chiechi et al ’97). Unsurprisingly, the highest figures are from samples of post-menopausal women, but although pre-menopausal women are somewhat less likely to be affected they find it much more distressing (Dennerstein et al ’09, Rosen et al ‘09).

It causes great unhappiness and relationship difficulties

Women with low sexual desire experience multiple and complex negative emotions. These include feeling less feminine, low self-esteem and letting the partner down (Dennerstein et al ’06, Leiblum et al ’06). Many women with low sexual desire also feel frustrated, hopeless and bitter (Dennerstein et al ’06, Leiblum et al ’06).

Clearly low sexual desire can be debilitating, and it is a significant contributory factor to relationship difficulties, separation and divorce; but here too causality is complex, as relationship difficulties increase the risk of low sexual desire (Dennerstein et al ’09), as do situational factors such as fatigue and stress in general.

Novel, natural support

Libifem is a new and natural option to support healthy levels of sexual desire.* It is an extract of fenugreek, a traditional culinary herb, standardised to furostanol saponins. In previous studies in males, this extract was shown to displace a small fraction of bound testosterone; as roughly 98% of testosterone on the blood is bound and inactive, displacing 1% of this doubles free (active) testosterone levels (Aswar et al ’10) with resulting increases in sexual cognition and activity (Steels et al ‘11). A new and parallel study in women has shown that the furostanol saponins have an analogous effect in women.

Female sexual desire is affected by a number of hormones including estradiol and testosterone. Almost all of the testosterone and most of the estradiol in the blood is bound to sex hormone binding globulin and is inactive. Only a small percentage of these hormones is free, and it is these free fractions that are active. In a recent double-blinded and placebo-controlled clinical trial, healthy menstruating women in stable relationships but who complained of low sexual desire were given Libifem for two months (Rao et al ’14).

Figure 1: Estradiol and Free Testosterone levels at baseline and month 2 in the active and placebo group (non-OCP users)


* D P< 0.05 active vs placebo

 Free Testosterone

* D P< 0.05 active vs placebo

Over the 8 weeks, Libifem resulted in a 70% increase in free estradiol levels, and a broadly similar increase in free testosterone levels.*

As almost all of the testosterone and estradiol in the blood is bound (and inactive), dislodging a mere 1% of the bound hormones leads to a small but significant increase of free testosterone and estradiol levels. This is a relatively inefficient mode of action, but its very inefficiency ensures that levels of free sex hormones never rise above physiological limits.

Low estradiol is linked to low arousal and lubrication, and low testosterone is associated with low sexual desire. As Libifem improved levels of both free estradiol and testosterone, it is not surprising that in this trial, sexual activity in healthy females in the treatment group increased - by approximately 100%. The subjects also reported improved feelings of wellness and satisfaction.

Figure 2: Frequency of sexual activity at baseline and and month 2 in the active group and placebo group

Sexual Frequency

* D P< 0.05 active vs placebo

Sexual functioning as measured by DISF-SR questionnaire significantly increased (p

The authors concluded, ‘Trigonella foenum-graecum (LIBIFEM) seed extract has a positive effect in enhancing libido in our trial subjects. Positive changes were observed for physiological aspects and psychosocial aspects of libido, accompanied by increases in relationship quality and general quality of life. The product was well-tolerated.’*

Libifem, also named Testofen for men, constitutes a breakthrough approach to low sexual desire.* As it is effective in both females and males, it can be used by either partner in a relationship or by both together. The effects have been described as ‘truly remarkable’ by study participants.



Aswar U, Bodhankar SL, Mohan V, Thakurdesai PA. Effect of furostanol glycosides from Trigonella foenum-graecum on the reproductive system of male albino rats Phytother Res. 2010 Oct;24(10):1482-8

Chiechi LM, Granieri M, Lobascio A, Ferreri R, Loizzi P. Sexuality in the climacterium. Clin. Exp. Obstet. Gynecol. 1997;24:158–159.

Dennerstein L, Hayes R, Sand M, Lehert P. Attitudes toward and frequency of partner interactions among women reporting decreased sexual desire. J Sex Med. 2009;6(6):1668–1673. 

Dennerstein L, Koochaki P, Barton I, Graziottin A. Hypoactive sexual desire disorder in menopausal women: a survey of western European women. J Sex Med. 2006;3(2):212–222 

Laumann EO, Paik A, Rosen RC. Sexual Dysfunction in the United States. JAMA. 1999; 281:537–544. 

Leiblum S, Koochaki P, Rodenberg C, Barton I, Rosen RC. Hypoactive sexual desire disorder in postmenopausal women: US results from the Women’s International Study of Health and Sexuality (WISHeS) Menopause. 2006;13(1):46–56. 

Rosen RC, Shifren JL, Monz BU, Odom DM, Russo PA, Johannes CB. Correlates of sexually related personal distress in women with low sexual desire. J Sex Med. 2009;6(6):1549–1560 

Steels E, Rao A, Vitetta L. Physiological Aspects of Male Libido Enhanced by Standardized Trigonella foenum-graecum Extract and Mineral Formulation. Phytother Res. 2011 Feb 10. doi: 10.1002/ptr.336 

Rao A, Steels E, Vitetta L. Physiological Aspects of Female Libido Enhanced by Standardized Trigonella foenum-graecum Extract and Mineral Formulation. In press. 

Wasti S, Robinson SC, Akhtar Y, Khan S, Badaruddin N. Characteristics of menopause in three socioeconomic urban groups in Karachi, Pakistan. Maturitas. 1993;16:61–69.