What are aphrodisiacs?
The word “Aphrodisiac” is derived from Aphrodite, the name of the ancient Greek goddess of love. It refers to drugs that arouse or increase sexual desire or excitement. These agents enhance the sexual drive, performance and lead to greater sexual satisfaction. They cause an increase in libido and sexual interest. They are sometimes used in the treatment of impotence. An aphrodisiac is an agent which is used to increase sexual desire.
Throughout history, many foods, drinks, and behaviors have had a reputation for making sex more attainable and/or pleasurable. However, from a historical and scientific standpoint, the desired results may be because their users have chosen to believe they will be effective (the placebo effect). Medical science has not substantiated claims that any particular food increases sexual desire or performance.
A rhinoceros horn, believed by some to have aphrodisiac properties.
Some aphrodisiacs appear to gain their reputation from the principles of sympathetic magic, e.g. oysters, due to their shape. This also explains the trade in the phallic-looking horn of the rhinoceros, which is endangering this animal. Other animal-based aphrodisiacs gain their reputation from the apparent virility or aggressiveness of the animal source – such as tiger penis – also endangering the species.
What are their uses?
Aphrodisiacs are primarily used to help men and women suffering from sexual dysfunctions. For men, the most common problems are impotence and premature ejaculation. It was previously thought that these were caused primarily by psychological conditions, but more recent research has shown that there is a range of physical problems, such as heart disease, stress and hormone imbalance, which can cause sexual dysfunction. Androgens (male hormones) can be prescribed for men with low libido or poor performance.
For women, low hormone levels can result in a lack of sexual interest or an inability to achieve orgasm. This happens mostly during menopause. Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) is now being accepted for its favourable effects in improving sexual desire, performance and pleasure in some women. Hormones in the modern context can be an aphrodisiac.
Aphrodisiacs serve the following purposes:
* To increase low libido.
* To improve sexual performance.
* In the treatment of impotence
* To treat physiological problems that affect sexual activity
How do they act?
These drugs act by enhancing the sex organ sensation and performance. They improve the blood flow to the male sex organs, thus improving the male libido. A similar response in women may also produce an increased sexual stimulation. Arginine works directly in the area of the genitals, whereas the other supplements act on the brain. Prostaglandins can be directly applied to the penis by injection or by a small solid insertion into the urethra. This is the most effective locally active aphrodisiac.
Which drugs are used as aphrodisiacs?
A number of prescription drugs may act as sex stimulants. These include levodopa (l-dopa), bromociptine, amantadine, naloxone, pergolide, and imipramine.
For men, sildenafil citrate, better known as Viagra, is approved for the treatment of impotence. Clinical studies have shown that sildenafil citrate corrects erectile dysfunction problems in 60 to 70 percent of men. Viagra is a commonly used drug to facilitate a male erection in conjunction with sexual stimuli.
Arginine is also taken by men and women to enhance sex organ sensation and performance. Arginine works as well in women as it does in men. Prostaglandins have also been used as a local aphrodisiac agent. The role of oxytocin as a potential aphrodisiac in women is also being investigated.
What are their side effects?
The side effects of these aphrodisiacs include irregularities of the rhythm of the heart, suicidal tendencies, mental disorders and tremors. These medications must be used under medical advice.
The drug Sildenafil citrate has some side effects, which last for a few minutes to a few hours after taking the drug. These include dilation of blood vessels in other parts of the body, causing headaches and fainting. Other side effects such as facial flushing, upset stomach, blurred vision and sensitivity to light usually occur with high doses.
So, let’s assume you have covered the basics. You pay attention to what you eat and take some nutritional supplements. You follow a regular routine for physical fitness. You are reasonably healthy. There are no organic health problems interfering with your sexual performance, or you have consulted a physician and they are being treated allopathically with drugs. (Note that many prescription drugs are known to interfere with sexual desire and performance. If you are taking any prescription medication, ask your doctor about such side effects. It may be possible to prescribe a different medication that won’t interfere with your sex life. )
If you are not doing these things, you may consider changing your habits before you experiment with aphrodisiacs. Regular exercise, good diet and basic nutritional supplements may be all you need to revitalize you sex life.