Aphrodisiacs: Real or Money-Making Scheme?

chocolate and roses

Hi Steph! Do aphrodisiacs actually work? What are the best ones?

I have to admit I’m with you on the skepticism. The existence of magic potions and foods that make sex more enjoyable seems more like the stuff of Greek myth than reality. Turns out I wasn’t far off in my prediction – the word “aphrodisiac” comes from the name of the Greek goddess of love, beauty, and sexuality, Aphrodite.

According to National Geographic, people have ben obsessed with sex stimulant boosters basically forever. While you’d think that would mean a lot of research has gone into the topic, in fact the opposite is true. The Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction reports (in a book from 1990) that no aphrodisiacs have ever been scientifically proven to increase sexual arousal or enjoyment. The folks at the Kinsey Institute caution against products that state that they have been endorsed by doctors or that they perform some kind of miracle, as these products are more likely to be dangerous and a complete waste of your money. If there ever is a legitimate product that helps increase sexual arousal, it should have the names of doctors, hospitals, and research studies attached to it so you can look at the studies yourself in a library. It will also list the ingredients so you can consult with a pharmacologist before taking it. Any product without a traceable research past should be treated as suspicious. Apparently people are so crazy about this shit that the FDA has even come out against it, saying, “There is no scientific proof that any over-the-counter aphrodisiacs work to treat sexual dysfunction,” despite that this decree “clash[es] with a 5,000-year tradition of pursuing sexual betterment through use of plants, drugs and magic.”

With that caviat out of the way, many people claim that eating anything from green M&Ms to oysters increases their sex drive (here is a short list of a few foods and their supposed sexual side effects). It seems to me that the logic of aphrodisiacs is lost when you think about it this way: each person is turned on by different things. Eating chocolate could make one person all hot and bothered, and make the next lazy and smug. Different chemicals, smells, tastes, and touches impact each person differently. Find what works for you, whether it’s a “claimed” aphrodisiac or not (double check that it’s safe!). Self-exploration is the key to understanding what turns you on and how to keep your partner happy, not spending your dollars on someone else’s magic sex potion.

Want to learn more about aphrodisiacs? Here are some places to get started:

- Read more about aphrodisiacs from the FDA. If that link isn’t working, read the same article here.

- A List of Supposed Aphrodisiacs from LifeScience. Guess what their #1 aphrodisiac is? Respect!

- Advice from Go Ask Alice on Aphrodisiacs


  1. freewomyn says:

    Wow – I never would have thought about the scientific aspect of this, Steph. I’m big on chocolate and champagne. Bubble baths are a big turn on for me, too. But like you said, whatever floats your boat.

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