How to Increase Libido

The New Science of Your Sex Drive

A new study says we’ve been looking for libido in all the wrong places. Here’s the truth about testosterone, estrogen, and sex drive.

How To (Really) Boost Your Libido

Male sex drive is largely influenced by testosterone. The more testosterone you have, the thinking goes, the more likely you are to get sprung at the slightest sexual thought, the briefest glimpse of thigh, or heck, even a chalk doodle on the sidewalk that vaguely resembles the curves of a female body.

However, according to a study presented at a meeting of urologists in Boston, it appears that total testosterone has little to do with male libido. Instead, it’s free testosterone and, surprisingly, the ratio between testosterone and estradiol (a type of estrogen) that determines your randiness.

The New sex Drive Study

The scientists had 200 patients of a cardiology practice fill out a series of erectile dysfunction questionnaires, including the IIEF-15, which collectively spell out a pretty decent picture of a man’s libido. Of note, none of the men had been diagnosed with hypogonadism (low testosterone) in the past, and none were on medications that could have affected T levels.

The researchers then measured the patients’ total testosterone, estradiol, sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG), and free testosterone and compared them with their reported libidos.

What They Found

It turned out they found no correlation between total testosterone and how often (or how infrequently) the men wanted to do it. Nor did estradiol levels correlate independently with sex drive, even when levels were lower than 5 ng/dL. This last fact is significant because it was thought that men are more likely to have healthy libidos if their estradiol is in the “sweet spot” between 2.0 and 5.5 ng/dL.

What did correlate with libido, though, was the ratio of testosterone to estradiol, along with free testosterone, i.e., that percentage of testosterone that isn’t chemically bound to SHBG. The higher the free T, presumably the greater the sex drive.


What This Means To You

Oftentimes, men with low libidos or poor sexual functioning go on testosterone replacement therapy or pro-testosterone supplements. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t, but when it doesn’t, it’s generally because of one of two things, as this study clearly supports:

  • Too much SHBG (resulting in low levels of free testosterone)
  • High estrogen levels (throwing off the testosterone/estrogen ratio)

What the study didn’t tell us is the perfect level of free testosterone or the precise T:E ratio we’d want for “optimum” sex drive. Still, it gives us some clues as to what we should do.

For instance, if you have symptoms of low testosterone (depression, weight gain, inability to put on muscle, diminished sexual desire or performance) or symptoms of high estrogen (increased abdominal fat, fatty tissue around the nipples, erectile dysfunction, or loss of libido), you might consider finding a progressive physician and getting your SHBG and estrogen levels tested (along with free T, of course), the latter with what’s known as the “sensitive” assay.

If you don’t ask for a “sensitive assay,” they’re going to measure your estradiol the same as if you were a ballerina from the Bolshoi ballet suffering from menstruation problems. In other words, the results will be pretty much useless.

Your other choice would be to experiment with using dietary practices and supplements to manipulate levels of SHBG and estradiol.

How to Lower SHBG and/or Raise Free Testosterone

  • Take magnesium daily to raise free testosterone. Take zinc daily to lower SHBG. You can get both in something like Elitepro (on Amazon).
  • Take vitamin D3 daily to lower SHBG, ideally microencapsulated D3 – the most bioavailable and longest-lasting form – which is found in our I-Well formula (on Amazon).
  • Don’t short-change yourself on carbs. A diet low in carbs increases SHBG while lowering testosterone.
  • Watch the booze so that testosterone levels don’t drop.


How To Lower Estradiol Levels

  • Lose fat. Fat contains an enzyme that converts testosterone into estrogen.
  • Eat lots of broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts. They contain a chemical that “fights” estrogen.
  • Take curcumin, ideally in micellar form (95x greater absorption). It reduces the effects of an enzyme that converts testosterone to estrogen.
  • Take resveratrol (on Amazon) to decrease the activity of that estrogen-converting enzyme.
  • Don’t get old. The older you are, the more estrogen-ey you are. (Okay, if you insist on aging, then at least put the above tips into action.)




  1. Gupta N et al. Calculated Free T and T:E Ratio but not Total Testosterone and Estradiol Predict Low Libido. AUA Annual Meeting. May 12-16, 2017, Boston.

I also suggest high quality cordyceps extract powder for testosterone and energy. The peer-reviewed research on its fruiting body is pretty compelling. I did a deep dive into medicinal mushrooms to help heal a nerve injury (Lion’s Mane for that), and have continued to take several of these since.


Charles Poliquin gave me some of that stuff in the 90’s, but I didn’t use it long enough to gauge the results. Interesting!

very cool! high-quality cordyceps powder brand have you been using? also very keen on more info about Lions Mane / nerve injury as I have similar injury

I currently use Vibe. I buy their extract powder which is a better value than their capsules. Their stuff is potent and has third party testing to verify bioactives. Most from Amazon or health food stores is fermented biomass (oats or the like that it’s grown on) and is a poor value with little therapeutic value (Om and Host Defense, for example). Oriveda has been considered a gold standard, but it’s pricier than Vibe and IMO not necessarily better. More cost effective options that are still good are RealMushrooms and FreshCap.

Vibe Lion’s Mane is potent. They use fermented mycelium which has the highest concentration of nerve growth factors. (Interestingly, a common microdosing stack is niacin, Lion’s Mane, and magic mushrooms. The idea is that Lion’s Mane helps make more permanent the beak throughs from the psilocybin in the magic mushrooms).

I currently take Vibe’s Cordyceps (~1g per day most days) and their Turkey Tail (a great option for overall immunity). I suggest the individual extract powders instead of the combinations to get the full benefit. Avoid tinctures, as these are just a small amount of the extracts dissolved in ethanol.


Thats awesome! thankyou very much for the detailed response🙏

I am going to dig into this

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How to reduce libido? My hormones are all middle of the range, but I wanna bang my wife or at least wank 6x a day. My wife gets too sore and says I am crazy, ya think she’d be flattered, but it honestly annoys her after the 3rd time.

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Ask your wife to stop shaving her legs. Should reduce the urge at least a bit.



I’ll be 65 in six weeks. Just got tested → Estradiol - 25 pg/mL, Prolactin 11.9 ng/mL, Testosterone 848 ng/dL, SHBG 78 nmol/L, Free Testosterone 10.6 ng/dL. What are recommended levels for the Estradiol and SHBG, in your opinion?

Thank you TC - this is most valuable.

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Your estradiol is fine. While we don’t know much about what levels it too high, we know that levels below 10 - 20 pg/ml can lead to bone loss and probably some stiffening of blood vessels. Your SHBG is pretty high, but given that your free T is pretty good, it’s probably not a problem.

Thank you for the response. Appreciate it.

@antiquity interesting note about mushrooms with Vibe. Have you ever looked into Vibe vs. Oriveda vs. Om to see if they’re clean i.e. with no toxic metals (lead/mercury testing)? Always been a concern with me for supplements as well -

Vibe and Oriveda would be far superior than Om, which is mostly biomass. Both Vibe and Oriveda test for metals as well as bioactives.