What Is an Aphrodisiac?

by Hannah Lovegrove

on Mar 20, 2023

If you’re looking for a tasty treat to boost your performance between the sheets, then aphrodisiacs might just be the answer.

2020.08.13 Jamie & Adele Bed-908

Who wouldn’t want to up the ante on their performance and better yet, their pleasure, in the bedroom? If this sounds like a bit of you then it could be worth indulging in a little aphrodisiac treaty before you do the dirty with your kinky companion.

What better than to fuel your next orgasmic sesh than a plate full of chocolate-covered strawbs or a bottle of champagne shared between lovers? And while some aphrodisiacs have been found to get your juices flowing, others are often more about than placebo effect… Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

So to help you on your quest to know what is aphrodisiac and what isn’t, we’re here to give you a blow-by-blow on what aphrodisiacs are, how they work and how to use them. We’ve even sprinkled in some alternatives to help you pump up your performance for good measure.

What are aphrodisiacs?

If you’re after the quick and dirty aphrodisiac definition, then you’ve come to the right place. An aphrodisiac is a food, herb or other substance that’s thought to boost your libido, enhance your pleasure and even increase your performance.

The term aphrodisiac was coined after the Greek goddess of love and beauty herself, Aphrodite, so it seems only fitting that these elements can help to get you in the mood for a bit of hanky panky.

Aphrodisiacs are believed to impact three key areas:

  1. Increasing libido or your sex drive

  2. Enhancing potency by boosting penis owner’s bonage or addressing erectile dysfunction

  3. Intensifying sexual pleasure.

But how exactly do aphrodisiacs work, if at all?

How do aphrodisiacs work?


While there’s mixed research that supports the effectiveness of aphrodisiacs, there’s usually no harm in giving them a crack. Aphrodisiacs are thought to work in one of two ways. The first category of aphrodisiacs is thought to get you excited by influencing your mind, whereas the second bunch gets your heart racing and the blood flowing by impacting certain areas of your body.

Still not 100% on how aphrodisiacs work? Allow us to explain… Some aphrodisiacs might prompt your brain to release certain chemicals that turn you on and get you ready to rumble. Others might get the blood pumping to your privates, which in turn makes you feel a little toey.

Whether or not aphrodisiacs actually work is still up for debate, but that’s not to say the power of the placebo effect shouldn’t be overlooked either. A placebo is essentially an inactive substance that results in a therapeutic effect purely through the power of your mind. So if slurping down an oyster or throwing back a double-shot espresso gets you in the mood and boosts your sexual prowess, who are we to stop you?

Types of aphrodisiacs


When it comes to the different types of aphrodisiacs it turns out that there’s a whole lot more than just figs and pomegranates to chow down on. Here are a few popular types of aphrodisiacs that are thought to get you feeling randy:

Suggestively shaped foods

You read that right. It’s believed that foods shaped like genitalia are thought to be… stimulating. Basically they have aphrodisiac qualities by prompting you to ponder about the bits that they imitate, which often leads you to think about getting hot and heavy in general. We’re talking oysters, eggplants, peaches, grapefruit, melons, sausages, and even that big old banana you’ve got sitting in your fruit bowl right now.

Reproductive-related foods

Some people think that eating foods that are a product of the reproductive system or are actually a reproductive organ can help to boost your libido. From caviar and eggs to reproductive organ meats like bull testicles and deer penis, many cultures believe that animals' sex bits can help to increase sex drive, potency and virility.

Next time you’re poaching eggs for brekky you might want to put this theory to the test…

Spicy foods

As it turns out, spicy foods can get you feeling a little hot under the collar in more ways than one. Some spicy foods contain an ingredient known as capsaicin, which causes a physiological response that’s similar to making whoopie. Think increased heart rate, boosted metabolism and getting the sweats. Sound like your last round in the sack? Maybe there is more in common with spicy foods and going all the way than we first thought, or at least for rats there is.

Exotic foods

There’s a whole stack of different cultures out there that spruik the aphrodisiac qualities of their own rare and exotic foods. From durian in Southeast Asia to cow cod soup, to a Jamaican dish made from bull’s penis and fugu, and a type of blowfish that’s a delicacy in Japan, there are plenty of unusual foods from around the globe that are thought to help you get ready for the ride of your life.

Foods that arouse the senses… et cetera

Last but not least, are foods that evoke the senses, like sight, smell or taste. These aphrodisiacs are thought to get you turned on by arousing your senses first. Desire starts in the brain, so it’s no wonder that certain compounds can trigger a biochemical reaction that gets that fire in your loins started.

Scents like jasmine, rose, peppermint, vanilla and cinnamon target your sense of smell and taste if consumed, which can help to get the blood pumping.

If you’re keen to have a nibble yourself why not check out our blog on the top aphrodisiac foods that are meant to get you frothin'? You’ll be sure to find a pre-coital treaty to indulge on before you do the deed.

How to use aphrodisiacs


When it comes to boosting your bonage or improving your performance in the bedroom, it pays to be conscious about how you’re consuming any potential aphrodisiacs. Before you throw back a carefully curated platter of goodies with aphrodisiac qualities, it’s important to do your own research into how these bites work. Learn as much as you can, otherwise it might be too late to find out about the laxative effects of figs if you down too many at once. Once you’ve read up on your love weapon of choice, make sure you stick to the recommended dosage and any instructions for the best results.

As you know, everyone is different, which means that we all have varied experiences when it comes to things like aphrodisiacs. Just because maca powder worked for your friend's uncle doesn’t mean that it will have the same effect on your body. Different things work for different people, so always take their recommendations with a pinch of salt.

Rome wasn’t built in a day. So if you’re expecting an aphrodisiac to have instant effects, you’re probably going to be left disappointed. Some compounds take time to build up in the body with regular, consistent consumption, so set your expectations accordingly. You might have to go a few rounds with your new aphrodisiac before you start noticing any obvious changes.

And lastly, never assume that naturally-derived products from plants, herbs and animals are safe for consumption. Natural substances can still have side effects and they can also interact with other medications or supplements that you’re taking. So rather than risk it, have a chat with your GP or a health professional to make sure you’re good to go before you introduce anything that could cause harm.

Other ways to boost your libido

There’s more than one way to skin a cat, and the same can be said for increasing your sex drive. Here are some other ways you can improve your performance between the sheets beyond aphrodisiacs:

Eat a balanced diet


Sure, there are a bunch of different foods that have been touted as aphrodisiacs, but sticking to a healthy diet in general is believed to have great effects on your sex life.

There’s research to suggest that eating a diet rich in lean protein, fruits, vegetables, whole grains and heart-healthy fats can help to improve your sexual health, performance and function. And when you’ve got a good sex life, you tend to be happier in life all round. So try to cut the crap in your diet so you can enjoy a fulfilling sex life.

Lay off the booze


Some people think that alcohol makes for a great aphrodisiac in itself, but science says otherwise. Ever heard of whiskey dick or whiskey clit? Although the right amount of alcohol can leave people feeling a bit hot under the collar, more often than not a big night on the turps can leave penis owners struggling to get it up, and it can also affect people’s ability to reach the gland finale. So while a glass of vino or a bottle of beer can help to loosen up those inhibitions, don’t be tempted to overdo it.

With this in mind, it could also be worth cutting out smoking if you’ve got a penchant for ciggies.

Stay active


There’s nothing like running out of breath or getting a stitch mid-bang to really kill the mood. Physical activity is good for the mind, body and soul. But it’s also especially good if you’re looking for a cheeky boost in the bedroom. And the good news is there’s no need to push yourself to the limit every time you hit the gym, even gentle exercise is enough to help you feel lustful. So keep your body active to reap the rewards come sundown.

Stress less

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Not only is stress bad for your overall well-being, but it can also wreak havoc on your libido too. Women and vulva owners tend to be more prone to the effects of stress on their sex drive than men and penis owners. When your body is exposed to stressors, it responds by releasing chemicals, like cortisol, to keep your body stable. To cut a long story short, the hormones released to deal with stress interfere with your sex hormones, which can throw your sex drive completely off-kilter.

If you’re not too keen on the idea of day-to-day stress cockblocking you from getting some action, then it can be worth finding ways to help manage stress. From self-care to meditation and mindfulness, there are plenty of ways you can curb your stress so you can still enjoy a shag on the reg.

Get frisky with foreplay


For most people, their libido doesn’t go from zero to one hundred as soon as their kinky companion is in the mood. Instead, it helps to work your way up to the main event with a bit of foreplay. There are plenty of ways you can dial up the heat before dancing the mattress mambo, but what works best depends on you and your lover. Whatever floats your boat, spending a bit of time touching, kissing, using toys or having some tongue fun can help both parties to feel lustful so you can hop on the good foot and do the sex thing.

Aphrodisiacs can be a fun (and delicious) way to try and dial up your horn. With that being said, if you think you could be experiencing problems with your sexual functioning then it’s well worth heading along to your GP for a chat. Sexual dysfunction is incredibly common and it’s often easily treatable too, so don’t hesitate to pay your health professional a visit.

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Hannah Lovegrove

Written by Hannah Lovegrove.

Originally published on Mar 20, 2023. Updated on Mar 21, 2023