Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Sexual Health Center

Font Size

Aphrodisiacs: Fact or Fiction?

Food really can put you in the mood; find out how.
By
WebMD Expert Column

Can certain foods truly stimulate sexual desire, or is it all in our heads? Research shows us that it's mostly the latter -- but when it comes to aphrodisiacs, we should never underestimate the power of sensual suggestion.

Between 25% and 63% of American women (many of them postmenopausal) have some type of sexual dysfunction. And several major news articles have been published recently that paint a troubling picture of how many married couples today are lucky if they end up "getting lucky." (It seems that job demands, stress, and busy schedules are to blame.)

Enter aphrodisiacs. Basically, foods considered aphrodisiacs are those that aim to stimulate the love senses (sight, smell, taste, and touch). But can food, or even the simple act of eating, put you in the mood for love? The answer is YES -- but not in the way you might think.

No food has been scientifically proven to stimulate the human sex organs. But foods and the act of eating can suggest sex to the mind, which in turn can help stimulate desire in the body. And it certainly doesn't hurt to stack the sexual odds in your favor by enjoying foods you and your partner find sensual!

The 5 Types of Aphrodisiacs

Historically, most aphrodisiacs have fallen into five general types, all based on unproven theories:

  • Are you "hot" yet? Foods that create warmth and moisture (like chili or curry) were thought to arouse "heated" passion, while cold foods (like lettuce and purslane leaves) were supposed to "chill" passion.
  • If it looks like a sexual organ ... Foods that resemble male or female genitalia were believed to increase desire. The infamous oyster is one example, as are some fruits, and root vegetables like carrots.
  • The remarkable reproduction hypothesis. Reproductive organs and eggs (fish roe and bird eggs, animal genitals) were thought to increase sexual desire and potency.
  • If it's exotic, it must be erotic. Foods considered rare (and consequently expensive) were believed to be sexually exciting. When many of these foods, like potatoes and cocoa, became more widely available, their reputations as sexual stimulants waned.
  • Stimulate the senses, stimulate desire. Foods that stimulate the senses (sight, smell, taste, and touch) in a pleasurable way were thought to stimulate passion.

 

 

 

Erotic Edibles Through History

Throughout history, vegetables like onions, turnips, leeks, squash, asparagus, artichokes, and watercress were thought to not only stimulate desire, but also increase sperm count. Shapely fruits like the apple and curvaceous pear were seen as erotic edibles. And heavily seeded fruits like pomegranates and figs were compared to the "seeds of fertility."

And what about those notorious oysters? Alas, despite the sexual exploits attributed to their powers, oysters are made up of elements that cannot possibly chemically stimulate the genitals of either sex -- namely water, protein, carbohydrate, fat, some salts, glycogen, and tiny amounts of minerals like potassium and calcium. Apparently, the oyster can thank its shape and squishy texture for its aphrodisiac acclaim.

Today on WebMD

Sex Drive Killers Slideshow
Slideshow
How Healthy is Your Sex Life
Quiz
 
HPV Vaccine Future
Article
Couple in bed
Video
 
HIV Myth Facts
Slideshow
STD Overview
Slideshow
 
Birth control pills
Slideshow
Herpes Vaccine Study
Video
 
6 Tips For Teens
Feature
things your guy wish you knew slideshow
Slideshow
 
Tense teen couple
Article
Better Sex Exercises
Article
 

WebMD Special Sections