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Free Tote Bag to Show Your Support for the Study of Women's Sexual Wellness w/ Purchases $60+

Free Tote Bag to Show Your Support for the Study of Women's Sexual Wellness w/ Purchases $60+

Free Tote Bag to Show Your Support for the Study of Women's Sexual Wellness w/ Purchases $60+

Free Tote Bag to Show Your Support for the Study of Women's Sexual Wellness w/ Purchases $60+

Free Tote Bag to Show Your Support for the Study of Women's Sexual Wellness w/ Purchases $60+

Blog  /  science & sex  /  What Does L-arginine Do Sexually?

What Does L-arginine Do Sexually?

L-arginine is often touted as a cure-all for many ailments.  You might have heard whispers about its benefits in the gym or bedroom. But what does L-arginine do sexually?

What is L-arginine?

L-arginine is an amino acid, one of the building blocks of proteins our bodies need to function properly. It's found in foods like meat, dairy, nuts, and seeds, and is also available as a supplement. While it has several roles in the body, its claim to fame is its ability to increase nitric oxide (NO) production.

Nitric oxide is a molecule that helps relax and expand blood vessels. Scientists found a connection between nitric oxide and sexual function. In men, it leads to improved erections, and in women, it is vital for sexual and genital arousal. This discovery was the building blocks of the creation of erectile dysfunction medications like Viagra and Cialis.

To understand how L-arginine might boost female arousal, let's take a look at this complex process at a glance:

  • It all starts with the brain. When a woman experiences sexual stimuli like physical touch, visual cues, or fantasies, her brain releases neurotransmitters like dopamine and oxytocin, which increase feelings of pleasure and bonding, setting the stage for physical arousal.
  • A big part of female arousal is increased blood flow to the genital area. This happens through vasodilation when the release of nitric oxide causes blood vessels to widen and enhance blood flow to the clitoris, labia, and vaginal walls. This increased blood flow causes these areas to swell and become more sensitive to touch.
  • Lubrication is also key to physical arousal. When blood flow to the vaginal walls increases, it stimulates the Bartholin's glands, which produce natural lubrication. This fluid helps make sexual activity more comfortable and pleasurable by reducing friction.

Boosting blood flow

Much like for men, female sexual arousal is closely linked to blood flow. When you're aroused, blood rushes to the genitals, increasing sensitivity and lubrication.

By promoting the production of nitric oxide, L-arginine can help enhance this blood flow, potentially leading to better sexual experiences.

In a way, it works similarly to Viagra for men—although the mechanisms of action are slightly different. Viagra enables increased blood flow to the penis when a man is aroused, resulting in an erection.

In women, increased blood flow allows the vagina, labia, and clitoris to swell and become more sensitive to the touch.

Enhancing libido

L-arginine's role in boosting nitric oxide may also help with libido. Some women report feeling more sexually aroused and responsive after taking L-arginine supplements. The theory is that increased blood flow enhances the physical sensations associated with arousal, making sex more enjoyable.

A study published in the Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy found that women who took L-arginine reported improvements in sexual desire, satisfaction, and frequency of orgasms. Admittedly the study was only done on 77 women, 43 of whom received a placebo.

Furthermore, the study didn't look at L-arginine in isolation, rather, the participants were given a supplement containing a mix of ginseng, ginkgo, damiana, L-arginine, multivitamins, and minerals. It's a promising start, but we need more research to confirm these findings.

Increasing lubrication

One crucial aspect of female sexual pleasure is lubrication—aka "getting wet." Adequate blood flow can help with this, too.

Women who struggle with vaginal dryness may find that L-arginine helps by enhancing the natural lubrication process, making intimate moments more comfortable and enjoyable.

In a 2021 systematic review on the effects of L-arginine for the treatment of sexual desire dysfunction in women, it was found that nitric oxide may affect sexual function by helping relax blood vessels, potentially leading to increased lubrication.

Combating sexual dysfunction:

The female sexual response is a finely tuned process that involves the brain, blood flow, lubrication, and physical changes in the genital area. These elements work together to create the sensations and responses associated with sexual arousal. When this finely tuned process is off key it can lead to sexual dysfunction.

Sexual dysfunction is still poorly understood in women. It can show up as a lack of vaginal lubrication before or during intercourse (arousal), difficulty reaching orgasm, low desire for sex or pain with sex. For some women, using L-arginine might offer a natural approach to dealing with this issue.

In one randomized control trial, 108 women aged 22-73 who were experiencing a loss of libido were given an L-arginine supplement or a placebo for four weeks with promising results in the people treated with L-arginine. In addition to the improved libido, trial participants also noted increased satisfaction with their sex life, frequency of sexual desire, and frequency of intercourse compared to those who received the placebo.

Other evidence suggests that combining L-arginine with other ingredients may help treat hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD) in women, regardless of their age. Although there is still more research needed in this area of medicine, we review the known data and science behind L-arginine and its role in sexual health.

Are there any side effects?

L-arginine is generally considered safe for most people when taken in appropriate doses. However, some people might experience mild side effects like:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Bloating
  • Low blood pressure.

If you experience any unwanted effects, it's best to stop taking the supplement. It's always a good idea to chat with your healthcare provider before trying new supplements, especially if you have other health conditions (like heart disease), take prescription medications, or if you're pregnant or breastfeeding.

The bottom line

While L-arginine can offer potential benefits for enhancing sexual health in women, it's important to remember that it's not a magic pill or quick fix. A combination of factors such as stress levels, relationship dynamics, and overall health can influence your sex life. It also doesn't help that female sexual pleasure has been largely neglected by the scientific community, so there's still much we don't know about the processes involved.

It's okay to explore options to help you feel your best, both in and out of the bedroom. Seeking support from a sexual health professional, such as a sex therapist or pelvic floor physical therapist, can be a helpful step. Just remember that your sexual well-being is as important as your mental and physical health, and it's okay to seek out the support you need.


How long does it take for L-arginine to work sexually?

It's not clear exactly how quickly L-arginine takes to work. The main studies show that when L-arginine is effective, it tends to show results within three months. Some studies suggest it can be effective in as little as six weeks. However, most of these studies only looked at the effects of L-arginine on men, so the results may not translate for women.

Does L-arginine work like Viagra?

Although they both work at Increasing the nitric oxide in the body helps blood vessels open up for better blood flow, the way that they work and the amount needed to see the results are different.