Do Aphrodisiacs Really Work?

Do Aphrodisiacs Really Work?

Aphrodisiacs have long been hailed as the key to a good sex life, but do they actually work? SL Features Writer Pascale Day investigates…

This year, I will have been with my partner for six years. Six whole years. I remember like it was yesterday what it was like to be in a new relationship. Every location is an opportunity for sex, and every minute of the day is an opportunity for sex. Every conversation you have is just wasting time where you could be having more sex. You don’t care that you’re making everyone around you feel uncomfortable with your incessant kissing because you’re in loooove. But that wasn’t yesterday, it was six years ago. When half a decade goes by, so many other things get in the way of Valentine’s Day, like real life woes such as saving for a house or getting your Netflix daily quota.

This year, I decided to try and become the most passionate version of myself by eating nothing but aphrodisiacs all day. Alix Fox, resident sexpert for Superdrug and script consultant on hit Netflix series Sex Education, tells me that aphrodisiacs are "foodstuffs (or sometimes scents) that are purported to increase libido when consumed by eating, sniffing, or absorption via the skin." Would I become a total sex pest? Only time would tell…


Horn-o-meter: 2
There has not been a single day in my life where I feel sexy in the morning. I can’t really understand the concept of morning sex beyond the fact that you both wake in the same bed. I would rather have an extra 15 minutes shut-eye than bump uglies – that’s what evenings and soft lighting is for.

Regardless, I try to get what I have fondly termed my ‘horn-o-meter’ (AKA, level of horniness) revving first thing by starting my day with a ‘sexfast’ (yes, really) of strawberries and raspberries with Greek yoghurt. Strawberries have long been considered an aphrodisiac despite the fact that the seeds tend to get stuck in your teeth. This is because they’re packed with vitamin C, which helps keep blood flowing to all areas of the body. Plus, because of its heart shape and red colour, Romans considered strawberries to be a symbol of Venus, the goddess of love, which is a good enough reason for me to feast on the berry.

So far, the horn-o-meter is like a chainsaw engine that won’t start – I’m pulling the chord, but nothing’s happening, yet.

Mid-Morning Snack

Horn-o-meter: Still a 2
Most of the things on the aphrodisiac list are fruit, and I’m starting to think this might be some government conspiracy to get us to eat healthier, by convincing us that we’re going to have mind-blowing sex at the end of it.

Regardless, I power through with my apple – and because it’s a special occasion, I splash out on a Pink Lady. According to a 2014 study, eating an apple every day correlated with a better sex life in women. I also have a banana because not only are they super sexy to eat in front of others – like your boyfriend, for instance, or a packed train – bananas are packed to the brim with potassium and B2 vitamins, which are great at keeping energy levels high. So, whilst not necessarily an aphrodisiac, per se, this is the ideal snack to have on the nightstand during half time at the late-night bone-a-thon. A website I don’t 100% trust also told me that the potassium in bananas is a key nutrient in developing muscle strength. The idea is, if one eats enough bananas, then one will develop strong vaginal muscles, making for super intense orgasms. Is this something I want? Do I want my nethers to have the ability to hulk out of my pants anytime I’m aroused, all thanks to an abundance of bananas? Do I want to have such superhuman strength in my pelvic floor that my orgasms can crush a man’s penis like it’s a flimsy old coke can? I’m not sure I do, but I’m more than happy to give this a go in the name of research.


Horn-o-meter: 4
I start the lunch off with a salad that has avocado in it, as I hear this is a well-known aphrodisiac. In fact, the Aztecs named the avocado tree ‘āhuacatl’, or testicle tree. Apparently, avocados contain high levels of folic acid, and vitamins B9 and B6, which helps with the production of testosterone. So, probably not best for me personally, but why not get your boyfriend to add a smack of guac next time you’re at Benito’s Hat.

In a serendipitous twist of fate, SL’s Lifestyle Editor has been delivered a large bag of Tyrell’s first aphrodisiac crisps, which she kindly gifts to me. Combining the sweet and hot tastes of honey and chilli, Tyrell’s say their crisps can have “provocative effects” on the body: the honey tinkering with your hormone levels, and the chilli triggering endorphins, increasing heart rate and making you sweat – mimicking all the things you feel when you’re aroused.

Next up is some chocolate. This is an aphrodisiac I can definitely get on board with. Chocolate contains phenylethylamine, a stimulant that boosts serotonin levels, also known as the feel-good hormone. But after eating a Dairy Milk bar, it got me thinking, does anyone really feel that sexy after chocolate? I’ve seen plenty of 90s Flake adverts to believe this is true, but right now I just feel very thirsty. Regardless, if there was one thing that made me feel ‘satisfied’ today, it was Cadbury’s Fruit & Nut.


Horn-o-meter: 6.5
As I get home from a day of eating the sexiest foods of all time, things are about to get even saucier – literally. The Saucy Fish Company sent me their new limited-edition sauce to be smothered on a nice bit of salmon. It’s a combination of pomegranate, chilli, vanilla and champagne – according to the fish ‘sexperts’, the pomegranate increases blood flow to “all areas of the body”, while the chilli stimulates the tongue, increases heart rate and releases endorphins. The Champagne is added to “lower inhibitions”, and the vanilla is simply listed as being “sensual”, so I think it probably just adds flavour.

Out of all of the things I have eaten, I feel as though this has got the biggest reaction on the horn-o-meter, but mostly because it wasn’t a heavy dinner, and tasted delicious. Did I want to rip my boyfriend’s clothes off the minute I put my fork down? Yes and no. Yes, because I really didn’t want this day of eating such a weird combination of food to be for nothing. And no, because this weird and wonderful combination of flavours is not something that lies easy on my stomach.

If I’ve learned one thing from this experiment, it’s that there is no such thing as an aphrodisiac. And while one might argue it’s probably best to stick to just one, I can’t imagine going to town on a dozen oysters, say, and feeling like doing sexual acrobatics whilst half of the sea sloshes round in my stomach. Do they really work? Honestly, who knows?  Some say it just takes a while to kick in, while Alix tells me that even if you do feel a raised level of arousal, it could all just be a placebo effect – "Aphrodisiacs make us feel sexy, saucy and in the mood to do the horizontal mambo is because we expect them to. This phenomenon that allows a medicine or foodstuff to have a positive, desirable effect upon us simply because we believe strongly that it will – can be incredibly potent." Alix even suggests that certain foods could even cancel each other's aphrodisic effects out or even cause bad reactions.
I do believe that food has the ability to make us feel a certain way – I know, for example, that some food makes me happy while other food makes me lethargic. I know alcohol makes me sad and mash potato makes me nauseous. But have I eaten food and felt turned on? No, not even by a really really good sandwich.

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