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Question to the Sexpert:
“What’s the reality in the search for aphrodisiacs? Are there really substances that can rev up a dead or dying engine? Has the search stopped since science discovered Viagra and Cialis?”
For time immemorial man has looked around at his surroundings, eyeing up plants, animals and an occasional unlucky bug, thinking to himself, “ I bet if I ate this, I’d totally get a boner.”
HISTORY OF BONER-INDUCEMENT
Ancient men sought the virility-enhancing powers of herbs, meats and (for largely psychological and symbolic reasons) the horns and claws of powerful beasts. They wanted to feel more amorous, last longer during sexual acts, recover more quickly between rounds and, in many cases, increase their brood to the size of a healthy mob. Today the quest continues for quick fixes to the inevitable waxes and wanes of libido. Today, though, the answers do not lie in wooded shrubbery on the African plain, but in the spam folder along with offers for bigger wieners and pleas from Nigerian dignitaries.
WAIT, WHAT? YOU MEAN I HAVE TO ACTUALLY BE ATTRACTED TO MY PARTNER?
Viagra, Cialis and their ilk are not actually aphrodisiacs, though. They don’t cause desire. They enable blood to flow into the penis and stay there, but a user would still have to be into their partner (or at least watch a few hits from the Ciara videography) to have any effect.
And while many herbal supplements touted as aphrodisiacs actually contain sildenafil, the active ingredient in Viagra, if you actually want to elicit desire, not just erections, you’ve still got to keep looking.
I WANT TO FEEL AMAZING ALL OF THE TIME
Research previously focused on neurotransmitters, trying to find dopaminergic, adrenergic and serotonergic agents, the things that make you feel all crazy passionate when you fall in love or experience other natural highs. Some drugs, ecstasy, opiates, etc, mess with these chemicals in your brain to make you feel aroused or heighten sexual sensation, but they do so at the risk of serious side effects, brain damage, addiction and long-term injury to one’s ability to get horny on one’s own.
BUT IT SOUNDED SO APPEALING WHEN I READ IT IN MY SPAMBOX
There are a number of herbs growing throughout the world that have been shown to cause marked changes in sexual behavior… in rats. Dosages of allium tuberosum (Chinese garlic chives)can increase sexual activity and reduce the refractory period needed between bouts, Indian anacyclus pyrethrum DC (aka Akarkara) can also increase sperm count and fadogia agresits (a woody African shrub) will also raise overall testosterone rates…in rats.
These effects may not necessarily translate flawlessly from Ricky the caged lab rat to Chaz the bored, unfulfilled accounts manager.
ASK ME HOW MUCH I CARE ABOUT CONCEPTUAL AND METHODOLOGICAL RESEARCH PROBLEMS
Aside from concerns about whether these drugs will work as well in real human life, where one’s sexual behavior is more nuanced than just mounting a nearby fellow rat and life complications are arguably greater than running in a wheel all day and eating dry pellets, there are other worries.
- All this research focuses on men. Shocker of all shockers.
- How do we really measure sexual response and improvement in sex life? Is it better that a man be able to bang out an entire office pool in an afternoon or that he bring his soul mate to heights of intimacy and passion, even devoid of orgasm? What are we really aiming for?
- What are we willing to risk for sexual function?
SERIOUSLY, WOMAN, GET TO IT. WHAT DOES AND DOESN’T WORK?
- Most recreational drugs and alcohol DON’T, although they reduce inhibitions and make your frontal lobe not really care how lousy a decision you’re making. Some, like pot and ecstasy can increase subjective sensation, but may cause dependency for the effect.
- Chocolate DOESN’T, but it does echo the brain’s own pleasure-causing chemicals, which may be what you’re looking for anyway.
- Ginseng and caffeine DO definitely charge a person up, including libido, but the latter should be taken in moderation due to the number of side-effects.
- Protein (which comprised a lot of ancient aphrodisiacs like oysters and dog meat), along with exercise, adequate sleep, stress reduction and general health DOES. Better health=better functioning everything.
- Working on one’s relationship DOES make a huge difference. Many a couple has sought out pills and patches when the reality was they needed a few sessions at a counselor’s office.
But let’s not forget some of the simplest ways to feel better about everything: laughter, good times and music, baby, yeah. There’s nothing better than a dirty, nasty beat to put one in the mood.
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