What are Aphrodisiacs?

Aphrodisiac to increase libido

Aphrodisiacs enhance libido and sexual pleasure. They include herbs, spices, foods, and drugs.

The term 'aphrodisiac' comes from Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love, beauty, and sexuality. In ancient times, it was believed that Aphrodite used aphrodisiacs to enhance her sexual prowess and seductive powers.

Today, the use of aphrodisiacs is still popular, with many people seeking to enhance their intimacy and take their sexual experiences to the next level. 

History of Aphrodisiacs


Aphrodisiacs have been a part of human history for thousands of years. For example, in China, aphrodisiacs have been used for centuries as a part of traditional medicine. Some of the most popular Chinese aphrodisiacs that you might have heard of include ginseng, which is believed to increase stamina and libido, and deer antler, which is believed to improve sexual function.

Many other different cultures have also believed in the power of aphrodisiacs, with some citing certain foods as having aphrodisiac properties. For example, oysters have been considered an aphrodisiac for centuries, and some people believe that chocolate, figs, and even garlic can increase sexual desire.

Today, scientists continue to study the effects of aphrodisiacs. With the rise in rigorous research, while some substances have been shown to have a positive effect on sexual function, others have been found to be ineffective or even harmful. For instance, although some believe that rhinoceros horn can increase sexual desire, it is actually a banned substance due to both its negative impact on the biodiversity and rhino populations and its clear lack of proven benefits.

The history of aphrodisiacs is a long and fascinating one. But while many different substances have been used as aphrodisiacs throughout history, it is important to be cautious in our approach to trying certain foods or new substances with the aim of improving sexual desire. For this reason, it is always recommended to consult a doctor or other healthcare professional before using any supplement or medication for sexual enhancement. 

But fear not—with the right research and recommendations, it won’t be long before you find a safe, effective, and sustainable aphrodisiac to enhance your intimate life! 


Reasons to Try Aphrodisiacs

A natural boost to libido

Despite the skepticism surrounding the efficacy of certain aphrodisiacs, there are several reasons to give them a try. After all, your sex life and your pleasure are important, so why not explore options to make this part of our lives even better? 

A Natural Boost to Libido

Many people experience fluctuations in their sex drive due to factors such as stress, hormonal imbalances, or age. Aphrodisiacs, such as maca root, ginseng, and fenugreek, can provide a natural alternative to pharmaceutical interventions for those seeking to enhance their libido. These substances work by promoting blood flow, regulating hormone levels, and reducing stress, which can improve overall sexual health and performance.

Spicing Up Your Relationship

Introducing aphrodisiacs into your love life can add a layer of excitement and intrigue, helping to break the monotony of a routine sex life. Experimenting with aphrodisiacs together can foster a sense of adventure and intimacy between partners. This shared experience can create a stronger bond, as you both explore new avenues of pleasure and satisfaction.

Exploring Culinary Delights

Many aphrodisiacs are food items that can be incorporated into delicious meals and snacks. Oysters, for example, have long been considered an aphrodisiac due to their high zinc content, which is essential for the production of testosterone. Other aphrodisiacs, such as chocolate, chili peppers, and strawberries, can be enjoyed in a variety of dishes and desserts. By incorporating these ingredients into your culinary repertoire, you can create mouth-watering meals that not only taste good but may also add flavour to the bedroom.

Promoting Relaxation and Stress Relief

Some aphrodisiacs, like lavender and nutmeg, are known for their calming and stress-relieving properties. These substances can help create a relaxed atmosphere conducive to intimacy and sexual pleasure. By incorporating these aphrodisiacs into your environment, you can set the stage for a more enjoyable and stress-free sexual experience.

Enhancing Sensual Experiences

Aphrodisiacs are not limited to substances that are ingested. Essential oils, such as ylang-ylang, jasmine, and sandalwood, can be used in massage or aromatherapy to create a sensual atmosphere and heighten the senses. These oils can also enhance the experience of touch and promote a deeper connection between partners.

Boosting Confidence

For some, the mere belief in the power of aphrodisiacs can provide a psychological boost in confidence and sexual pleasure. After all, the placebo effect, where the mere belief that a substance is effective can lead to positive outcomes, is a well-documented phenomenon. If incorporating aphrodisiacs into your life improves your self-esteem and self-image, it is likely your intimate experiences will experience a boost as well.


Types of Aphrodisiac

As we have seen, the types of aphrodisiacs that have been used over time are endless, with various cultures trying out foods, supplements, and even fragrances. It’s not surprising that facing up to this huge selection can feel like a barrier to starting your aphrodisiac journey. So as a starting point, below we delve into the different types of aphrodisiacs and their potential benefits, helping you make an informed choice for your intimacy adventure.


Natural Aphrodisiacs


These are substances derived from nature, often in the form of plants, fruits, or spices. Many people prefer natural aphrodisiacs because they are generally considered safer and have fewer side effects compared to synthetic options. Here is a selection of the most popular types, all of which can be found in our luxurious For Play chocolates


Ginseng, a popular herb in traditional Chinese medicine, is known for its potential aphrodisiac properties. This herb has been used for centuries to improve sexual function and boost libido. Ginseng contains compounds called ginsenosides, which are believed to enhance sexual arousal and improve erectile function in men. Additionally, ginseng is also known to have adaptogenic properties, which can help reduce stress and anxiety. 

Maca Root

Maca root, also known as Peruvian ginseng, has been long hailed for its potential aphrodisiac properties. This root vegetable, native to the Andes Mountains, has been used for centuries in traditional medicine to boost sexual desire and stamina. Maca is known to contain compounds like macamides and macaenes, which are believed to enhance libido and sexual function by balancing hormones in the body. Maca root is also rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, which can help improve overall sexual health and well-being. 


Fenugreek, a herb commonly used in Indian cuisine, has been recognised for its potential aphrodisiac properties. Fenugreek contains compounds like diosgenin, which can help increase testosterone levels in men and women, leading to improved sex drive and performance. In addition, fenugreek is also known to have antioxidant properties that can help improve overall sexual health by reducing oxidative stress in the body. 


Ashwagandha, a popular herb in Ayurvedic medicine, has been recognized for its potential aphrodisiac properties, particularly for women. This herb is known to contain compounds that can help balance hormones and reduce stress and anxiety, two factors that can negatively impact female sexual desire and function. Ashwagandha is also rich in antioxidants, which can help improve overall sexual health and well-being.


Food Aphrodisiacs

Aphrodisiac food

The idea of using food as an aphrodisiac dates back to ancient civilizations. A wide variety of foods are believed to possess aphrodisiac properties due to their unique flavors, textures, shapes, or nutrient content. Why not try incorporating these foods into one's diet or a romantic meal to ignite passion and pleasure?

Here are some suggestions for foods to try together:

  1. Oysters
    These shellfish are high in zinc, which can boost testosterone levels and improve sexual function in men. Oysters also contain amino acids that are believed to enhance sexual desire.
  2. Dark Chocolate
    Dark chocolate contains flavonoids that can increase blood flow and phenylethylamine that stimulates the release of pleasure-inducing neurotransmitters in the brain. This combination can lead to increased sexual arousal and satisfaction.
  3. Spices
    Cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg are believed to improve blood flow, stimulate the senses, and provide a warming sensation that can enhance sexual pleasure.
  4. Fruits
    Watermelon contains citrulline, which can increase blood flow and erectile function in men. Pomegranate is rich in antioxidants that can improve overall sexual health by reducing oxidative stress and inflammation in the body.
  5. Asparagus
    Asparagus contains compounds that can increase histamine production, which can enhance sexual pleasure.
  6. Avocado
    Avocados are rich in vitamin E, which can improve sexual functioning by reducing oxidative stress.
  7. Bananas
    Bananas contain bromelain, an enzyme that can improve libido and sexual function.
  8. Figs
    Figs are believed to have a sensual texture and flavor that can stimulate the senses as a potent aphrodisiac.
  9. Honey
    Honey contains boron, which can help regulate hormone levels and improve sexual function.


Related: 8 Aphrodisiac Foods For Your Libido

    Synthetic Aphrodisiacs

    These are man-made substances specifically designed to enhance sexual desire, pleasure, or performance. While synthetic aphrodisiacs can be highly effective, they may also carry more risks and potential side effects, so a physician consultation before use is recommended. 

     Here are some of the most popular options:

    1. Sildenafil (Viagra) One of the most well-known synthetic aphrodisiacs, sildenafil is a prescription medication used to treat erectile dysfunction in men. It works by increasing blood flow to the penis, leading to stronger and longer-lasting erections.
    2. Tadalafil (Cialis) Similar to sildenafil, tadalafil is a prescription medication used to treat erectile dysfunction. It is known for its longer-lasting effects, which can last up to 36 hours.
    3. Flibanserin (Addyi) This prescription medication is specifically designed to treat hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD) in premenopausal women. It works by balancing neurotransmitters in the brain that affect sexual desire.

        Aromatherapy and Fragrances


        You don’t always need to actually take something to make the most of the benefits of aphrodisiacs. Some scents are thought to have aphrodisiac effects by stimulating the olfactory system, which is closely linked to the limbic system—the area of the brain responsible for emotions and memory. See if you can find scented candles and essential oils with the following ingredients:

        1. Ylang-ylang This floral scent is believed to have a relaxing effect, reducing anxiety and promoting a sense of well-being. Its calming properties may help to create a more intimate atmosphere, conducive to sexual desire.
        2. Sandalwood Known for its warm, woody fragrance, sandalwood is often used in perfumes and colognes to create a sensual, seductive ambiance. It is also thought to help balance hormones and improve libido.
        3. Jasmine This sweet, floral scent is believed to have aphrodisiac properties due to its ability to stimulate the release of endorphins, the body's natural feel-good chemicals. Jasmine is often used in fragrances to evoke feelings of romance and passion.

          The Impacts of Aphrodisiacs

          So now we know what’s out there, how do these aphrodisiacs actually work to improve our intimate lives? Generally, there are three areas in which aphrodisiacs affect humans:

          • drive sexual desire
          • increase sexual pleasure
          • improve potency

          Many natural aphrodisiacs work by improving blood flow, balancing hormones, reducing stress, or increasing neurotransmitter levels in the brain, all of which can impact sexual desire and function. So, to make sure we’re clued up on exactly how these aphrodisiacs may be helping our intimate lives, let’s take a deep dive into their physiological and psychological effects. 


          Physiological Effects of Aphrodisiac


          The physiological effects of aphrodisiacs on the human body are multifaceted, often working through complex interactions between various hormones, neurotransmitters, and other biological systems. While the efficacy of many purported aphrodisiacs is still a subject of scientific debate, some compounds have been found to exert tangible effects on sexual arousal and satisfaction.

          One of the primary ways aphrodisiacs work is by promoting the release of neurotransmitters in the brain such as dopamine and serotonin, which are critical for regulating mood, motivation, and pleasure. This, in turn, can lead to feelings of well-being and desire, setting the stage for sexual engagement. For example, dark chocolate contains phenylethylamine, a compound that stimulates the production of endorphins and serotonin, contributing to improving our sexual desire.

          Another physiological effect of certain aphrodisiacs is the increased production of sex hormones, particularly testosterone and estrogen. For example, substances like maca and fenugreek have been reported to increase the levels of these hormones, which in turn can enhance libido and sexual function. These hormonal changes may also lead to increased blood flow to the genital area, increased sensitivity, and greater sexual stamina.

          In addition to affecting hormonal and neurotransmitter levels, some aphrodisiacs have been found to act as vasodilators, meaning they improve blood circulation. This can be particularly important for erectile function in men, as proper blood flow is crucial for achieving and maintaining an erection. For example, L-arginine, an amino acid found in certain foods, has been shown to increase nitric oxide production, which is a key component in blood flow regulation.

          Psychological Effects of Aphrodisiacs

          Intimacy is not only physical, so it follows that any effective aphrodisiacs not only impact our physical bodies but also our minds. 

          In fact, the mere suggestion that a substance has aphrodisiac properties can be enough to enhance sexual desire and performance. This is called the placebo effect—to illustrate, if you really believe that a particular food or supplement will enhance your sexual desire, you are likely to experience a temporary boost in libido and sexual function, even if the substance itself has no real aphrodisiac properties.

          In addition to the placebo effect, aphrodisiacs can also have a psychological impact through their association with romance and sensuality. Many aphrodisiacs, such as chocolate and oysters, are considered luxurious and indulgent foods that are often associated with romance and seduction. The very act of consuming these foods with your partner can create a romantic atmosphere, enhancing sexual desire.

          Another psychological effect of aphrodisiacs is their ability to reduce anxiety and stress. We all know that when we feel stressed or anxious, intimacy might be the last thing on our minds—surely all the jobs have to be done first? But many aphrodisiacs, such as ashwagandha and ginseng, are believed to have adaptogenic properties that can help reduce this unhelpful stress and anxiety, thus improving sexual function and our openness to intimacy.

          Finally, trying aphrodisiacs with your partner can also have a psychological impact through the power of suggestion. The joint act can create exciting expectations and help build the anticipation, getting you ready for a tantalising intimate experience.

          Ways to Improve Your Sex Life Beyond Aphrodisiacs

          Improve your sex life

          While aphrodisiacs may play a role in enhancing sexual experiences, they can’t act alone. Alongside indulging in safe and effective aphrodisiacs, focusing on communication, intimacy, self-care, and lifestyle changes can lead to a more fulfilling and satisfying sexual relationship.

          Craft your desired intimate life with these 9 ideas:

          1. Open Communication Discussing your desires, fantasies, and boundaries with your partner can help create a stronger bond and enhance sexual satisfaction. Effective communication allows for a better understanding of each other's needs and preferences, making it easier to navigate the sexual landscape together.
          2. Prioritise Intimacy Taking the time to nurture emotional intimacy can lead to a more satisfying sexual connection. Engaging in activities that promote closeness, such as cuddling, touching, or sharing personal thoughts and feelings, can foster deeper bonds and enhance the sexual experience.
          3. Stress Management High stress levels can negatively impact libido and sexual performance. Incorporating stress-reduction techniques into your daily routine, such as exercise, meditation, or deep breathing exercises, can help to alleviate tension and promote relaxation, leading to a more enjoyable sex life.
          4. Exercise Regularly Physical activity not only improves overall health and wellbeing but also has a positive effect on sexual function. Regular exercise can boost energy levels, increase blood flow, and improve body image, all of which contribute to a more satisfying sex life.
          5. Maintain a Healthy Diet Consuming a balanced diet that includes a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and healthy fats can provide essential nutrients for optimal sexual function. A well-rounded diet can help maintain healthy hormone levels, support cardiovascular health, and enhance energy and stamina.
          6. Get Enough Sleep Sleep plays a crucial role in overall health and wellbeing, including sexual health. Ensuring that you get adequate rest can help to balance hormone levels, improve mood, and increase energy, all of which contribute to a more fulfilling sex life.
          7. Address Underlying Health Issues Certain medical conditions, such as diabetes, heart disease, or hormonal imbalances, can negatively affect sexual function. If you suspect that an underlying health issue may be impacting your sex life, consult a healthcare professional to discuss potential treatment options.
          8. Explore New Techniques and Fantasies Experimenting with different positions, techniques, or incorporating elements of fantasy into your sexual encounters can add excitement and variety, leading to increased satisfaction for both partners.
          9. Seek Professional Help If you and your partner are struggling with sexual issues or concerns, consider seeking the guidance of a qualified therapist or counsellor who specialises in sex therapy. They can help you address the root causes of any challenges and provide personalised strategies for overcoming them.

          By focusing on these aspects of your life and relationship, you can build a strong foundation of communication, intimacy, and self-care, leading to a more fulfilling sex life and stronger emotional connections with your partner. Once you have these foundations, experimenting with scientifically proven aphrodisiacs can then help you add a beautiful layer of intimacy to your relationship. 


          A word from For Play

          Aphrodisiac foods and supplements have long been used to enhance libido and spice up romantic experiences. Scientifically, many of these substances contain nutrients that can positively influence hormones, energy levels, brain chemistry and boosting sexual desire. 

          As an easy starting point on your journey to even more fulfilling intimacy, why not try our For Play Couples Chocolates? Our luxurious dark chocolate for couples contain gender-specific blends featuring natural aphrodisiac ingredients, designed to enhance libido, intensify pleasure, and improve performance.

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