Why red wine has libido-boosting power — for men and women

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Popping a cork can help men pop a woody, a new study finds.

It seems to improve the sexual health of women, too.

Those are just a few of the results of a meta-analysis of nearly 30 years of research going back as far as 1993.

The authors of the new report, published in the Journal of Clinical Medicine, found ample evidence of the ways red wine can help men and women enjoy a healthy sex life.

Polyphenols are the compounds in red wine that take the credit for much of the drink’s libido-boosting power.

In addition to red wine — which is made, of course, from red or purple grapes — polyphenols are also found in dark chocolate, tea, herbs, and certain fruits and vegetables.

Polyphenols have powerful antioxidant properties, which prevents free radicals and other chemicals from causing oxidative stress that can damage cells.


glass of red wine
The polyphenols in red wine seem to have a positive effect on reproductive health, new research finds.
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Oxidative stress is linked to numerous health problems, including cancer, heart disease, stroke, arthritis, immune disorders, emphysema, Parkinson’s disease and other conditions, according to Medical News Today.

Vitamins A, C and E, as well as beta-carotene, lycopene and lutein, are also potent antioxidants.

The research revealed that the antioxidants in red wine can improve vascular health, allowing more blood flow, which helps maintain an erection.

Red wine also can improve levels of testosterone, the hormone responsible for sex drive in men and women.

“Fascinatingly, women consuming moderate (one – two glasses a day) red wine showed higher … scores for sexual desire and [vaginal] lubrication with an overall improvement in sexual function compared to teetotaler women,” the authors wrote.

The researchers also found that the presence of ethanol in red wine, and its interaction with polyphenols, may also play a part in how red wine affects the reproductive system.


man and woman in bed
Both men and women seem to benefit sexually from the compounds in red wine.
Getty Images/iStockphoto

In summary, the report authors found that “red wine, if consumed in moderation, can be potentially beneficial for patients with erectile dysfunction as well as can positively influence reproductive function through mechanisms that depend on the vasorelaxant properties of red wine and its antioxidant properties.”

The key part of those findings may be in the word “moderation.”

The National Institutes of Health states that “adults of legal drinking age can choose not to drink or to drink in moderation by limiting intake to 2 drinks or less in a day for men and 1 drink or less in a day for women when alcohol is consumed.”

More research is needed, the study authors wrote, “to confirm the precise role of both EtOH [ethanol] and polyphenols in the field of male and female sexual response.”

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