But new research about the nutritional supplement ArginMax, sponsored by the company that manufactures it, suggests it may improve some women's sexual desire and overall satisfaction.
Supplement Provided Satisfaction
Forty-six women taking the supplement were compared to 47 similar women who took a placebo. Neither the researchers nor the women knew what they were taking.
The women rated their sexual functioning before and after the study, Polan says. Sixty percent taking the supplement reported improvement in their overall sex life, while only 38 percent taking placebo described such a benefit.
Sixty-four percent of the women reported improvement in sexual desire versus 43 percent in the placebo group. Improvements also were reported in clitoral stimulation, clitoral sensation, reduction of vaginal dryness and satisfaction with their sexual relationship.
Amino Acid Arginine Key
ArginMax contains gingko, ginseng, damiana, L-arginine and 14 other vitamins and minerals. L-arginine is an essential amino acid that is believed to work by increasing nitric oxide levels in the body, and blood flow in a analogous fashion to how Viagra works in men.
The company says the other ingredients have been used traditionally to improve sexual performance.
Polan belongs to the scientific advisory board of Mountainville, Calif.-based The Daily Wellness Company, which makes the supplement, and holds stock options in the firm.
Skepticism About Findings
Dr. Alan Wabrek, professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Upstate Medical University in Syracuse, N.Y., says he is very doubtful about the supplement research.
"I would be very skeptical that some pill would solve a huge component of women's sexual difficulty that a number of women struggle with," Wabrek says. "Clearly, this is a preliminary study and four weeks is not enough time to draw any real conclusions."
"I think it is unwise for women to go out and start buying this product."
He also says Polan's relationship with the company calls into question her research, as she has a vested interest in the success of the product.