Aphrodisiacs: What Are They And Do They Really Work?

Aphrodisiacs: What Are They And Do They Really Work?

Sometimes, you just need a little something extra to prop yourself up before a thrilling night battle. However, are aphrodisiacs all that they are cracked up to be? Let’s find out.

In the game of life, ‘hard’ would be the default setting for most adults around the world. A typical day presents a smorgasbord of stressors, from personal matters large and small, to the 101 tasks that need to be completed at work. On the bright side, having a supportive spouse makes tackling daily life that much more bearable.

And who doesn’t fancy a rousing round of the devil’s tango when the mood strikes? Unfortunately, lingering stress and fatigue have a nasty way of interfering with a couple’s intimacy. Cue aphrodisiacs, which are said to boost a person’s libido after consumption. Oysters and champagne, anyone?

Therein lies the problem. There are plenty of foods, beverages and substances out there claiming to be the bedroom cure all these days. So, what gives? It’s high time we discover what aphrodisiacs really are and if a certain Greek goddess of love would approve of these performance boosters.


    What are aphrodisiacs?

    Open a dictionary and you’ll find that the word ‘aphrodisiac’ simply refers to ‘an agent that arouses sexual desire [1]. This agent can be a food, beverage, or substance. Other spillover effects include an improvement of sexual pleasure and heightened feelings of attraction. The word was created in 1719 and is derived from the Greek goddess of love and beauty, Aphrodite.

    Although the word was only coined slightly over 300 years ago, aphrodisiacs have been sought out by amorous folk for thousands of years. When taken ‘properly’, it is believed that it would improve sexual desire (ideally), which would need to better sexual performance and therefore larger families being formed. A bloodline’s chances of surviving were thus higher and there would be greater respect for the father.

    Today, aphrodisiacs are solely seen as a way to improve the bedroom experience, especially after a long day dealing with the demands of the world. For those looking to improve chances of conception, there are aids like the twoplus Sperm Guide these days, which is designed to minimise semen leakage after intercourse.


    Popular aphrodisiacs around the world

    As mentioned earlier, any food, beverage, or substance that arouses sexual desire can be deemed an aphrodisiac. Common ones you’ve probably heard of include alcoholic beverages, chocolates and oysters. That begs the question: Does each country prefer a different aphrodisiac?

    Brazil: Catuaba

    South America’s biggest country has a love affair with catuaba. It refers to the catuaba plant itself and a sweet liquor that’s made from a concoction of catuaba, wine and a few other ingredients. The latter is especially popular among party-loving people due to its affordability and palatable taste. 

    Fun fact: Catuaba belongs to the same species as the coca plant, the one that cocaine is derived from [2].

    China: Horny Goat Weed

    The Epimedium plant’s nickname is as on the nose as it gets. Legend has it that a Chinese goatherd’s flock became more frisky after feeding on this [3] and thus, the name stuck for millennia thereafter. Folks in China purchase this from Traditional Chinese Medicine halls in the form of a tonic drink or pill, similar to the next aphrodisiac that’ll be discussed.

    Singapore: Tongkat Ali

    A common nickname for this Southeast Asian tree is ‘Long Jack’. That much should indicate the aphrodisiac properties of ‘Ali’s Walking Stick’, which is usually consumed in the form of powder (mixed in a glass of water) or pill. Other supposed health benefits of this aphrodisiac include lowered stress levels and improved body composition [4]. Multivitamins, watch out!

    South Africa: White’s Ginger

    Also known as Mondia whitei, the White’s Ginger plant can be found across the whole of Africa. The plant’s roots are either chewed on or brewed in a tea, and emits a vanilla [5] scent with a bitter and sweet aftertaste. But that’s not all, its leaves are also used as a substitute for spinach in the kitchen. Quite the versatile (and tasty) aphrodisiac.

    The U.K.: Chocolate

    The British sure do love a good ol’ box of chocolates. 2,000 respondents surveyed by British supermarket chain Iceland, voted chocolate as the top food that would put them in the mood for love [6]. And as British, roast beef with Yorkshire pudding ranked highly in the survey too.


    What does science say?

    According to the Raffles Medical Group [7], sexual health — and overall health — relies on the maintenance of proper blood circulation. As for greater sexual satisfaction, you’ll need to have the right balance of hormones. In short, there’s no magic bullet to prop yourself up in the bedroom — sorry, no shortcuts here!

    The Mayo Clinic concurs [8], saying that there’s ‘little evidence to support the effectiveness of most substances thought of as natural aphrodisiacs’. The North American non-profit organisation also says that making healthy lifestyle choices and treating any other medical conditions you might have, would help improve libido as well.

    It might be disappointing to learn that aphrodisiacs aren’t scientifically proven to be effective in providing that extra spark to your nightly tussles, but there’s one useful lesson here. Take good care of your physical and mental health and you’ll start seeing (some very pleasurable) results in due time. This is the same philosophy as leading a healthy lifestyle.

    For couples who are also looking to conceive, taking care of your health improves your fertility too. For example, having a balanced diet, healthy weight and manageable stress levels tend to improve sperm quality. And to further boost your chances of conception, you can always use a modern aid like the twoplus Sperm Guide.


    What do the people say?

    Scientific research aside, isn’t an aphrodisiac effective as long as people say it is? For one, the British are confident that chocolate will put them in the right mood. To add, if you take a glance at forums like Reddit [9], you’ll get a range of aphrodisiacs that users personally prefer, including peaches, alcohol, oysters, and even Christmas cookies.

    This is a happy problem for couples, as it touches on the psychological side of sexual desire. As long as a food or beverage gets two lovers in the mood, it’s an aphrodisiac whether or not science says it works.

    Additionally, a number of aphrodisiacs out there are part of the usual romantic candlelit dinner anyway. Do chocolates, champagne, oysters, and strawberries ring a bell? Impress your significant other with a well thought-out meal and an excellent conversation and they’re sure to reciprocate later behind closed doors.

    Individuals on social media reviewing pills or tonics marketed as aphrodisiacs do caution their followers against thinking that these will work instantly too. The common thread would be that aphrodisiacs do make sensual interplay that much more exciting, but they don’t work instantly and you have to be in the mood to begin with.


    Are there any alternatives to aphrodisiacs?

    Now that you know the science behind aphrodisiacs is on shaky ground, you’d also want to know if there are any alternatives you can seek out. Fortunately, the solution is a simple one. There really is no magic pill or substance (unless you are referring to medicine like Viagra) that you or your partner can consume in order to make your nighttime escapades more exciting.

    All it takes is a clear head and an active body. Take some time out everyday to exercise and destress with your significant other. Communication between partners works wonders and keeping your body in shape has a ton of health benefits too. From living longer to leading a more fulfilling life in general, you’ll thank yourself for putting in the hard work.

    Finally, take the time to find out your spouse’s preferences in the bedroom. They would want you to be comfortable when doing the dirty dance too, so get rid of your insecurity and start finding common ground regarding what excites the both of you. After all, there’s nothing more sexy than a lover who knows you like the back of their hand.


    In closing

    Aphrodisiacs are not scientifically proven to enhance feelings of sexual desire, but their psychological effects on people are undeniable. Don’t cancel those restaurant bookings just yet, because they are still a wonderful way to set the mood for a lovely evening with your better half.

    Countries around the world can’t seem to agree on an aphrodisiac either, with different nations preferring different foods or herbs. This really drives home the point that as long as couples provide their stamp of approval, anything goes. On the other hand, it also proves that a good number of aphrodisiacs are nothing more than just placebos.

    At the end of the day, mental and physical health prevail. Sweat out the day’s stress and leave it outside the bedroom door in order to have the time of your life between the sheets. Like everything else in life, there’s no magic pill to boost your libido. You’ll need to put in the hard work with your partner and keep the spark alive.

    This rings very true if you’re trying to conceive as well. twoplus Sperm Guide does boost the probability of pregnancy by minimising semen leakage after sex, but both parties will need to do their best to make sure that their sperm and eggs are in optimal condition. There’s no quick fix here either, but your hard work will pay off once junior comes out.

    [1] Merriam Webster, Definition Of Aphrodisiac, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/aphrodisiac
    [2] Eater, Catuaba: Brazil's Love Potion No. 9, https://www.eater.com/drinks/2016/4/4/11362214/catuaba-brazil-aphrodisiac
    [3] Healthline, Horny Goat Weed: Does It Work to Treat Erectile Dysfunction?, https://www.healthline.com/health/erectile-dysfunction/horny-goat-weed
    [4] Healthline, Tongkat Ali (Eurycoma longifolia): Everything You Need to Know, https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/tongkat-ali-longjack-review 
    [5] Plants For A Future, Mondia whitei - (Hook.f.) Skeels, https://pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Mondia+whitei 
    [6] Daily Mail, Forget oysters... pizza and roast beef are the best foods to boost your chances of romance as Britons shun usual aphrodisiacs, survey shows, https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-10475159/Forget-oysters-pizza-roast-beef-best-foods-boost-chances-romance-say-Brits.html 
    [7] Raffles Medical Group, The Better Sex Diet, https://www.rafflesmedicalgroup.com/health-resources/health-articles/the-better-sex-diet/
    [8] Mayo Clinic, Do natural aphrodisiacs actually work?, https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/sexual-health/expert-answers/natural-aphrodisiacs/faq-20058252
    [9] Reddit, What are some good Aphrodisiacs?, https://www.reddit.com/r/sex/comments/8p2les/what_are_some_good_aphrodisiacs/