Experts are studying the latest ways to liven up the bedroom

Seeking help with sexual health problems can not only be embarrassing, but also becomes increasingly difficult as the number of personal appointments has now halved due to the pandemic.

A large number of new products in pharmacies and on the Internet promise relief. Caroline Jones asked the experts to evaluate some of the latest options available. We then rated them.

Fertility test for men

Sperm check male fertility test

£ 29.99,

Sperm check male fertility test

Claim: This test promises to be “as accurate as the test you would do in a clinic – but in the privacy of your own home”. You take a sperm sample in the provided cup and mix it with a solution in a small bottle, then add six drops to a pregnancy-style test window. A positive result means a healthy sperm count; negative corresponds to a low count.

Expert judgment: “This works by detecting a protein that is unique to sperm and will adequately assess a man’s sperm count,” says Professor Pacey. “However, it’s a less accurate method than in a clinical laboratory, where sperm are counted manually with a microscopic lens to enlarge them.

“This test cannot tell whether the sperm swim normally or whether they are the right size and shape – both are important for the fertilization of the egg cells.

“However, if it helps overcome the initial fear or embarrassment of a fertility test, it will serve good purpose as an initial exam for men to try at home themselves.”


Capsules for male libido

Male boost

£ 59.99 for 180 capsules,

Claim: This supplement contains a blend of the herbs ginseng and maca root, along with vitamin E and zinc, and promises to be a “natural testosterone booster”. Take one or two capsules three times a day.

Expert Verdict: “I can’t find any robust research to suggest that any of these ingredients actually increase testosterone levels, although there is some evidence that adequate intake of vitamin E and zinc is important for healthy male fertility,” says Allan Pacey, professor of andrology (male fertility and sexual health) at the University of Sheffield.

“It is getting expensive to take six capsules a day, and men should better buy fresh fruits and vegetables.

“Men with low libido should see their GP to rule out medical problems – this could be an indication of diabetes, heart disease, or a side effect of depression. In addition, high testosterone levels will not help men trying to raise a family, as ingestion of testosterone in any form will decrease sperm production.


Fertility test for women

Medicheck’s female hormone blood test

£ 79,

Claim: For this ‘hormone MOT’ test, take a fingertip blood sample at home and send it to a laboratory for a report on the levels of estrogen, testosterone, follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH, a useful indicator of ovarian health) and thyroid function.

This can identify imbalances that could cause period problems, the manufacturer says.

Expert judgment: “Hormone levels fluctuate during the menstrual cycle, so a one-time blood test is just a snapshot of what is going on that particular day,” says Dr. Adib.

“I have concerns that this test could either unnecessarily worry a patient or give them a false sense of security. Hormone tests are complex and are best done in consultation with your GP. ‘


Medicheck’s female hormone blood test

Supplement to the sex drive

NHP Libido Support for Women

£ 21.69 for 60 capsules,

NHP Libido Support for Women

Claim: A mixture of the herbs damiana, maca, ginseng, ginger and rhodiola, plus vitamin B3 and the amino acid L-arginine, which claims to “give back passion and create an enjoyable sex life”. Take two capsules a day.

Expert Verdict: “Maca root powder comes from a South American herb believed to be helpful for both male and female libido, although a 2010 review found there weren’t enough robust studies to prove this benefit “says Dr. Adib.

Vitamin B3, L-arginine, and ginseng are said to promote energy and blood circulation, while rhodiola root (from a flowering plant) can relieve stress that is known to improve female libido.

“It’s safe to take and can boost your energy levels a bit, but is quite expensive for a monthly supply.”


Pelvic floor exercise

Vivify Rejuvenating Pelvic Floor Toner

€ 349.99,

Vivify Rejuvenating Pelvic Floor Toner

Claim: This wand uses vibration to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles and help fight incontinence. It promises to rejuvenate vaginal tissues by emitting red LED light and uses blue LED light to kill harmful bacteria. Use it ten minutes a day.

Expert judgment: “There are indications that red LED light stimulates the production of skin-strengthening collagen in the vagina, which could have a slight influence on vaginal elasticity. Blue light is antibacterial and could improve the overall health of the vagina, ”says Dr. Tania Adib, Gynecologist Consultant at Lister Hospital in London.

“But the effect of vibration on toning the pelvic floor muscles will be minimal compared to equipment used in clinics by physical therapists trained for women with incontinence or prolapse. This device is also expensive. If you have weak pelvic muscles it could be used in conjunction with appropriate physical therapy treatments. ‘


Premature ejaculation spray

Stud 100 desensitizing spray for men

£ 5.99 for 12g,

Stud 100 desensitizing spray for men

Claim: This spray contains a numbing ingredient and, when applied to the penis just before intercourse, is said to reduce sensitivity to delay ejaculation. Use three to eight sprays, five to 15 minutes before sex. When buying online, a health questionnaire must be completed and checked by a pharmacist.

Expert judgment: “Premature ejaculation is a common problem, especially in younger men who may have penile hypersensitivity or performance anxiety,” says Dr. Amr Raheem, Andrology Consultant at International Andrology London.

“This spray contains lidocaine – a local anesthetic and first-line treatment for premature ejaculation. However, it is important that online pharmacies use a health questionnaire to rule out other causes such as hormonal imbalances or chronic prostatovesiculitis (inflamed prostate and vas deferens). It can also be caused by psychosexual problems and relationship problems. When this happens, patients may need to be referred to their GP or a specialist for treatment of an underlying problem. ‘


Fertility tracker app

Fertility tracker for the glow period

Free download from the App Store on the iPhone

Fertility tracker for the glow period

Claim: This app is designed to help women track their menstrual cycle and fertility by recording the date of their period, weight, and symptoms such as mood swings or headaches. It is claimed that this can help determine when women are most fertile.

Expert verdict: “Apps like these are great for helping women get to know their body rhythms,” says Dr. Adib. “Hormones fluctuate throughout the month and this can dictate mood and energy levels. Recording daily information and recognizing patterns can help you plan your life around your period.

“However, this cannot reliably predict fertility. If you’re trying to have a baby, you’d better use the ovulation sticks you pee on to check the levels of luteinizing hormone (released by the ovaries when you ovulate). This is a much more accurate way of knowing when you are most fertile. ‘


Tablets that you can now get without a prescription

Hana Daily contraceptive

£ 8.95 for one month delivery,

Claim: Known as the mini pill, this is a daily birth control pill that contains only progesterone (75 mg desogestrel). It’s up to 99 percent effective when taken correctly, says the manufacturer. No prescription required.

Expert judgment: “Since this contraceptive pill only contains the hormone progesterone, there is no risk of a blood clot forming like the combination pill (estrogen and progesterone),” says Dr. Adib.

“Many women feel uncomfortable asking their GP about birth control pills, so buying them online can be invaluable.

“However, the same pill would be free on prescription from your family doctor. Visiting a family doctor is also an opportunity to talk about other contraceptives that better suit your needs.

“To be effective, the progesterone-only pill must be taken at the same time each day, and many women may not know this. You may also experience side effects such as irregular bleeding, acne, and gas. ‘


Liberate (Sildenafil)

£ 14.99 for four 50 mg tablets,

Claim: This helps men achieve and maintain an erection. Take one tablet an hour before sex. Before this can be submitted, an online questionnaire must be completed.

Expert verdict: “This is the same drug (sildenafil) as Viagra, which is still considered the gold standard in erectile dysfunction (ED) treatment,” says Sultan Dajani, a pharmacist in Hampshire.

“When you buy it online, it’s easy to lie or forget to provide information about other drugs that may interact with it. Even more worrying, ED can have a more serious cause, such as diabetes, heart problems, or even cancer.

“Sildenafil doesn’t work for everyone – some men find that tadalafil (brand name Cialis) has a longer-lasting effect and is less likely to cause headaches, which is a common side effect.”


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