Review on October 23, 2008
Menopause brings with it a host of unwanted symptoms, from hot flashes to fatigue to one that can spur further emotional issues such as depression or anxiety: loss of libido. A decline in libido can leave a woman feeling inadequate and her partner feeling frustrated, leading to relationship problems. While a number of dietary and exercise techniques may be utilized to try and help revive a lagging libido, recent studies suggest that the answer may be as simple as adding fava beans to a woman's diet!
The consumption of fava beans has been shown in several university studies, published in the British Medical Journal, to increase the level of a compound called L-dopa. A naturally occurring amino acid found in fava beans, and made from L-tyrosine in the human body, L-dopa is converted into dopamine in the brain and body. Sold as a dietary supplement or prescription drug in the United States, L-dopa is shown to be more effective when taken in a natural form, and at less risk as a boon to decrease the incidence of loss of libido.
Dopamine is the substance at the core of all primary desires that women feel. The same pleasure-seeking urges that lead her to desire food or sexual intercourse. Dopamine is also responsible for addiction to narcotic substances. The desire to engage in sexual activity, desire heroin, or desire ice cream is all caused by dopamine.
If a woman is experiencing a loss of libido, it is likely due to fluctuating hormones that occur during menopause. Dopamine naturally decreases, and so does her desire for sexual intercourse or ability to orgasm, leading to loss of libido.
In a study conducted in 2007 and reported by the British Medical Journal (BMJ), 72% of a sample of pre-menopausal women noticed a definite decrease in the incidence of loss of libido upon eating fava beans regularly in their diets. One serving per day was added to their lunch and appeared to have a significant impact on this pesky symptom of menopause.
- Julia C. Rhodes, MS; Kristen H. Kjerulff, PhD; Patricia W. Langenberg, PhD; Gay M. Guzinski, MD. Hysterectomy and Sexual Functioning. JAMA. 1999;282:1934-1941.