#askthesexpert: are aphrodisiacs real?
"are certain foods, oils, and smells aphrodisiacs? I have been researching online and I find a site that says chocolate is an aphrodisiac, and another will say it is a myth. It makes me wonder if the thought of an aphrodisiac is just a taboo or if it's real."
I've been known to refer to a handsome man cooking me a medium rare steak as an aphrodisiac, but I don't think that's what you're talking about here! The idea that certain substances can increase sexual arousal has been perpetuated for years. Even centuries in some of the research I did! But is it just a myth, or proven fact? This is one of those tricky questions that simply cannot be answered due to a lack of clinical, scientific research.
Research like this is often time consuming and expensive. The gold standard is typically a double-blind clinical trial, during which research subjects are given either the proposed aphrodisiac or a placebo. Neither the research subjects nor the researcher distributing the substance knows which are the studied aphrodisiac and which are the placebo. Research subjects are oftentimes put into some sort of controlled environment, so researchers can do their best to guarantee that the results of the research has to do with the variables being studied (i.e. the aphrodisiacs), rather than some other outside factor. Further, results of these studies are more valid and reliable if they are conducted with a large number of participants and can be replicated several times with similar results. See how this can end up taking a lot of time and resources?
So until we have reliable, valid, ethical research results that have been replicated over time and critiqued by other scientists, we won't be able to say that aphrodisiacs, for a fact, exist. HOWEVER, it is important to take into account our experiences as well. After all, not everything in this world, or in our sexual lives, can be proven by clinical research.
So I suppose my conclusion is if you find something - whether it be a food, a scent, a certain touch, a sound, a place, etc. that makes you feel sexy and turned on, who the eff cares what science says! But also, don't feel obligated shell out $2.50 a pop for oysters on the half shell if you're trying to get lucky.
best of luck!