As Goop launched its latest supplement, which aims to boost female libidos, we investigate whether it really could be the key to better sex.
When you think of Goop, what are the things that come to mind? For me, it’s often something to do with vaginas – vaginal steaming, vagina candles, and of course, jade yoni eggs.
Over the years, the lifestyle brand co-founded by Hollywood’s favourite actor-turned-wellness guru Gwyneth Paltrow has made headlines for its products, TV shows and everything in between – and it seems to have done that once again with the launch of its latest product.
Earlier this week, Goop launched DTF (an abbreviation for the phrase ‘down to fuck’ for those not in the know) a daily supplement to help support “women’s sexual desire, arousal and mood”.
Despite the tongue-in-cheek name, Goop’s website assures us: ‘It’s not just about sex: It’s about supporting our pursuit of more pleasure, more often.”
“And yes, we chose to name it DTF. It can be a joke we share.”
According to the brand’s website, the company’s science and research team set out to create a supplement to address the common physiological roadblocks women face during sex and aims for DTF to be a part of your ‘sexual-wellness toolkit’. It’s also worth noting that it is not approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the US.
Upon hearing about DTF, I was sceptical. After all, if a product could really help boost women’s libidos and help millions achieve orgasm, surely it would’ve been done already, right?
And so I decided to dig into all things DTF – here’s what I found out.
DTF is a vegan, plant-based product that includes 60 capsules made with no hormones, GMOs, gluten or soy. It claims to help support sexual health and boost the female libido, which can be affected by stress, anxiety, hormonal fluctuations and fatigue.
“The female libido is extremely, extremely complex,” says Dr Philippa Kaye – a GP, author and Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust ambassador.
“There can be physical causes of reduced libido and there can be psychological causes. There is a huge interplay between the two.”
Goop acknowledges the vast and varied ways women can struggle to achieve orgasm and claims their supplement can help increase female pleasure with the use of their product which includes three key ingredients: Libifem fenugreek extract, shatavari and saffron extract.
“Libifem, a concentrated extract of fenugreek seed, was clinically shown to support sexual health and function, including healthy sexual arousal and desire, in women,” Goop writes.
A 2015 study from Phytotherapy Research found that daily supplements of an extract from fenugreek may enhance female libido.
The research, which included a double-blind randomised placebo-controlled study, included 80 women, aged 20 to 49 years, and found that a standardised extract of trigonella foenum-graecum was linked to significant increases in measures of sexual cognition, sexual behaviour drive and orgasm.
DTF includes 300 milligrams of the herb native to the Mediterranean and is the star of the sex-boosting supplement. However, while there is some evidence that it supports sexual pleasure, there are questions around whether there is enough to support these claims.
“I think supplements have a role to play in women’s health if they are evidence-based,” says Dr Philippa Kaye.
“And there is no strong evidence that any of the ingredients in there actually boost a woman’s libido, and it doesn’t make strong claims on the website that it’s going to work,” she adds.
Goop’s website is littered with disclaimers, highlighting that DTF is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease, and is not for those who are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, lactating or breastfeeding.
It also advises to not take products including fenugreek – ie DTF – if you have a history of hormone-sensitive cancers or if you take blood-thinning medication or diabetes medication.
“The fact that something is a supplement and natural doesn’t mean that it doesn’t interact with anything else,” Dr Kaye warns.
The next ingredient in the mix is shatavari, commonly known as wild asparagus or asparagus fern.
“Shatavari is a traditional female adaptogen,” says sex therapist Stella Sonnenbaum. “Adaptogens have received a lot of press in recent years as a sort of miracle supplement that helps us cope with stress and has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for hundreds and hundreds of years.”
According to the College of Medicine, shatavari has historically been used to support women’s health, fertility and breastfeeding and contains steroidal saponins called shatavarins which can have a normalising effect on hormonal balance.
Along with Libifem fenugreek, 150 milligrams of shatavari root extract is included in the supplement and is rounded out with 30 milligrams of saffron extract for mood support.
Saffron, which is derived from the autumn flowers of crocus sativus, has been used by people for at least 4,000 years. A 2015 clinical trial found saffron may improve the symptoms and the effects of depression, premenstrual syndrome, sexual dysfunction and infertility, and excessive snacking behaviours.
So, the combination of these three ingredients makes up the plant-based supplement – but will it actually work?
“I am in favour of plant-based products and they do refer to clinical studies so I would say give it a try to see if it works for you,” says Sonnenbaum.
“A lot of adaptogens contain high levels of vitamins and essential amino acids. So those are substances that generally serve to keep us healthy. The more healthy we are, the more balanced we live and the more vitality we have, which in turn is beneficial for sex drive.”
While Sonnenbaum sees no harm in trying the £40 supplement, she acknowledges the importance of checking in with the different aspects of your life which can play a significant role in female pleasure.
“As a sex coach I will always look at the bigger picture, as sexuality thrives so much on creativity and on wanting to play rather than having to play,” she says.
“Stress is one of the things that can have a huge impact on libido. So it’s very important for women to create an ambience.”
“This isn’t going to be for everyone but that’s true of all things. It’s all about trial and error.”
While Sonnenbaum feels there’s no harm in giving Goop’s DTF a go, Dr Kaye feels there’s more to consider when assessing whether the supplement can support a woman’s libido – including the need for more trials and analysing where each woman is at in terms of their own health.
“People can have a reduced libido when stressed or anxiety is high, or due to hormonal changes in your brain, vaginal dryness and so much more. It’s so complicated that we need to look at this in a multifactorial way.”
While Goop doesn’t claim to be a be-all-and-end-all supplement and merely an addition to your “sexual wellness toolkit”, Dr Kaye says it’s key to acknowledge what’s in that toolkit to begin with.
“I’d like to know what is in your toolkit first. What do you do to keep sex healthy?” she says.
“Your toolkit might consist of looking after your mental health, looking after your physical health or taking time to rebuild a relationship with a partner.”
While DTF is still in its early days, whether it truly works is TBC. But as a supplement that wants to help, it could very well just do that – and it does open a much-needed conversation around women’s health as a whole.
“I’m really happy that women’s health is more in the forefront these days and that women like Gwyneth Paltrow will make programmes to raise awareness,” says Sonnenbaum.
“Every time Goop does something, whether or not doctors agree with it, there is a conversation to be had,” says Dr Kaye.
“This topic is hugely important because it’s only when we begin to have these conversations that we are on the path to closing the orgasm gap between men and women.”