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15 Most Popular Aphrodisiacs for Men: Which Ones Actually Work?

10 min read
15 Most Popular Aphrodisiacs for Men: Which Ones Actually Work?

The male sex drive or libido is said to be made up of various interrelated characteristics, including biological, psychological, sexual, cultural and relational factors. Sex drive can be a sensitive subject and for men who want to increase theirs, the willingness to do so may occur for a number of reasons.

For example, men may wish to increase their libido to keep up with society's unrealistic standards, such as those set by male performers in pornography. For other men, the desire to increase their libido may be a result of sexual dysfunction such as erectile dysfunction (ED) or premature ejaculation (PE)

Regardless of the cause, men may seek out ways to increase their sex drive and stumble upon aphrodisiacs as a result. The term aphrodisiac can be defined as an agent that increases sexual desire. This article identifies some of the most popular aphrodisiacs and explores the research surrounding their effectiveness. 

Illustration of the 15 Most Popular Aphrodisiacs for Men

Gingko Biloba

Commonly referred to by the names ginkgo or gingko, gingko biloba is a type of gymnosperm tree that comes from China. According to research gingko has a number of applications which include use in early-stage Alzheimer's disease, vascular dementia, vascular tinnitus and is said to be generally well tolerated. 

Does it work?

From a male perspective, there doesn’t appear to be conclusive evidence for gingko biloba’s effectiveness as an aphrodisiac. The research into gingko’s effect on sexual function is somewhat conflicting, and much of the research into gingko’s sexual impact is based on females. 

From a male perspective, there doesn’t appear to be conclusive evidence for gingko biloba’s effectiveness as an aphrodisiac.

Research suggests that it may be effective in the case of antidepressant induced sexual dysfunction, but may be more effective for women than men. Conversely, a systematic review of clinical trials noted that it may have positive effects on the sexual function of post menopausal women, but went on to state that existing evidence suggests no improvements on sexual function for antidepressant users.


Pistachios are a type of nut that belong to the cashew family. The nuts are associated with a range of health benefits such as obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Compared to other nuts they have lower caloric and fat content and contain various substances known for anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. 

Does it work?

Possibly, previous studies have concluded that nut consumption (including walnuts, almonds and hazelnuts) combined with a healthy diet may improve erectile and sexual desire.

A research study which focused specifically on pistachios also showed promising signs. 

The study explored a pistachio diet on individuals with erectile dysfunction. 17 married male patients were put on a 100 gram diet of pistachios for 3 weeks. The research gauged individuals' erectile function before and after the study using the International Index of Erectile Function (IIEF). It found that after placing them on the diet, they experienced improved erectile function which was demonstrated through increased IIEF scores.


L-arginine is a type of amino acid which can be found in a number of food sources (such as meat, fish and dairy) and affects the circulatory system. L-arginine supplementation may be used in an athletic capacity, with some research suggesting that it may increase sports performance.

Does it work?

Some of the research into L-arginine and sexual function does look promising. One systematic review and meta analysis explored 10 randomized controlled trials and the outcomes of 540 patients with erectile dysfunction.

It found that arginine supplements dosed between 1500 mg and 5000 mg significantly improved ED compared to placebo.

Another piece of research examined the administration of L-arginine in combination with Pycnogenol and noted a “significant improvement” in the sexual function of men with erectile dysfunction. However, it should be noted that not all research supports L-arginines effectiveness for sexual dysfunction.


Chocolate is a food made from cocoa which dates back thousands of years and is well known for its sweet taste. In modern society, chocolate is commonly used in treats and deserts worldwide. This may have led to it being considered an “unhealthy” food, with chocolate snacks often associated with being high in calorie, sugar and fat content. 

Does it work?

As enjoyable as consuming chocolate can be, there’s little evidence to support the idea that chocolate works as an aphrodisiac. Some research suggests that an increased intake of flavonoid rich food may reduce a person's chances of experiencing ED. This may have led to connections being made to chocolate, given that cocoa and chocolate are rich in a flavonoid known as flavan-3-ols.


Okra is a plant that flowers and has edible seeds. It is used as an ingredient in food but is also associated with benefits to human health. Orka is considered easily available and low cost, boasting good nutritional value. Past research has suggested that Okra pods have anti-fatigue properties. 

Does it work?

The simple answer is that there is no research to suggest so. Despite Okra having a reputation as an aphrodisiac, its effectiveness in this application appears to be lacking in evidence. There is no conclusive research to suggest that Okra is an effective aphrodisiac.


Along with clams and muscles, oysters are part of a group known as mollusks which have been a common recommendation within healthy diets. Oysters are considered a culinary delicacy and are a common feature within seafood dishes. They are known for their high protein content and also used within Chinese medicine.

Does it work?

There has been some research into the area in tests on mice. Oyster peptides were found to increase male mouse sternum testosterone levels and cyclic adenosine monophosphate, both of which are considered to play important roles in erectile function. However, the effectiveness of oysters for human application is understudied and there is no conclusive research to suggest oysters work as an aphrodisiac. 


Alcohol is widely consumed worldwide and is often enjoyed in social settings. There are a vast  number of alcoholic drinks some of which include beer, wine and whiskey. However, it’s well known that excessive alcohol consumption can be associated with an array of undesirable health conditions. Some of these can include cancer, diabetes and organ failure.

Does it work?

For alcohol consumption in the context of erectile function, there may be a fine balance between consuming enough for disinhibition and relaxation while avoiding excess consumption. Some research suggests that moderate consumption of alcohol may have a beneficial impact on a person’s risk of ED, while regular to large consumption may not.

It’s important to consider the risk of addiction and alcohol use disorder.

It’s important to consider the risk of addiction and alcohol use disorder. Should an individual begin to use alcohol in an attempt to improve their erectile function, engaging in alcohol misuse may damage their sexual function and general health. Research states that sexual dysfunction is common among patients with alcohol dependence. 


Ginseng is a plant which is associated with a number of health benefits. It comes in different varieties, such as Asian ginseng (known as Panax ginseng) and American ginseng (known as Panax quinquefolius). Some of the health benefits associated with Panax ginseng include improved psychological function, immune function and conditions related to diabetes. 

Does it work?

Ginseng has been widely reputed as an aphrodisiac, perhaps due to its use in ancient Chinese medicine, with its sexual applications said to date back over 5000 years ago. Some research suggests Ginseng may have increased libido in lab animals.

However, despite its reputation there is limited evidence to suggest that Ginseng works effectively as an aphrodisiac in humans.

One piece of research explored 9 studies which were made up of 587 men (aged between 20 and 70) with ED severity ranging from mild to moderate. Each study compared Ginseng to a placebo group. It found that Ginseng only appears to have a trivial effect on ED in comparison to placebo based on IIEF scales. 


Maca is also known as Peruvian ginseng, with roots originating from the Andes mountains. According to research, the root has been used for at least 2000 years and is associated with a range of medicinal effects which may include memory enhancement, antidepressant properties, skin-protection, anti-cancer and sexual dysfunction regulation. 

Does it work?

A systematic review consisting of 4 randomized clinical trials concluded that it provided limited evidence for the effectiveness of Maca in improving sexual dysfunction. Other research recognizes a “small but significant” effect of using Maca for subjective perception of sexual well-being among adults with mild ED. Based on the existing research, there is little to no evidence that’s conclusive in proving Maca’s effectiveness as an aphrodisiac.

Hot Chillies

For those who can tolerate it, spicy food can be a great way to experience some extra flavor and hot chili peppers can be an exciting way to put your tolerance to the test. Spicy foods and chili peppers contain capsaicin, which may be associated with health benefits but may also have adverse effects such as pain and swelling.

Does it work?

It doesn’t look like it. The impact of chillies on an individual's sexual function is an area that’s lacking in research. There appears to be no evidence to prove that chili peppers work as an aphrodisiac. Good news for anyone concerned that their spice intolerance could be holding back their sex life.


Also known by the name Crocus sativus, saffron is obtained from the stigmas of a plant and is known for its various medicinal applications. Research has made reference to saffron’s effectiveness in the treatment of a number of disorders including coronary artery disease, stomach disorders and learning and memory impairment. 

Does it work?

The existing research shows promising signs for saffron’s effectiveness in the context of sexual ability. A systematic review was carried out on existing literature (5 studies consisting of 173 patients) based upon saffron's impact on sexual dysfunction in men and women.

Its general conclusion was that saffron showed a statistically significant impact on sexual dysfunction.

One study measured the impact of saffron on erectile dysfunction. 20 male ED patients took 200mg of saffron per day for 10 days. Their erectile function was measured at the beginning and end of the 10 day period using nocturnal penile tumescence (erectile activity during sleep) and using IIEF-15. After 10 days of treatment, there was a significant improvement, with an increased amount and duration of erectile activity in ED patients. 


Fenugreek is a plant that has been used within food, which also has medicinal applications with a long history of use in Chinese medicine. Extensive research has highlighted the pharmaceutical uses of Fenugreek, some of which includes antidiabetic, antiobesity, anticancer and anti-inflammatory applications. 

Does it work?

Although there’s not a vast amount of research into the subject, the existing research has shown some encouraging outcomes. One clinical study explored the impact of Testofen, a Trigonella foenum-gracum (Fenugreek) extract on male sex drive. 

60 healthy men between the ages of 25 and 52 were involved in the randomized placebo controlled study. Subjects took 600 mg of Testofen or the placebo each day for 6 weeks. It concluded that Testofen may have a positive impact on psychological aspects of libido and may even contribute to the maintenance of healthy testosterone levels.


Tribulus is prepared from the leaves of the Tribulus Terrestris (TT) plant, also known as puncture vine. Despite diuretic and tonic uses, it’s said that TT is widely used today by athletes and bodybuilders due to marketing claims that it can increase testosterone concentrations. However, such claims are thought to be insubstantial.  

Does it work?

Possibly - research outcomes show some promise. A study examined the efficacy of TT for the treatment of ED among 80 males between the ages of 18 and 65 years old. With half assigned to TT and the other half to a placebo group. 86 of the participants from each group completed the study with the IIEF scores improving significantly in the TT group compared to placebo. 

Other research explored TT use compared to placebo in the treatment of ED and lower urinary tract symptoms among men with late-onset hypogonadism. The study consisted of 70 participants, 35 of which used TT daily for 3 months, while 35 received placebo. It found that there were significant increases in total testosterone and erectile function scores (IIEF-5).


Ashwagandha is a plant native to Africa and Asia, and is considered an essential medicine in the ancient Indian medical system (also known as Ayurveda). The root reportedly has a number of health benefits, some of which as explored by preliminary research may include stress reduction and memory improvement. 

Does it work?

Although there has been some research into Ashwagandha’s impact on sexual capability, there seems to be little evidence to suggest that it works successfully as an aphrodisiac for men. From the research that does exist, there have been instances in which the use of Ashwagandha has been ineffective in treating erectile issues. 

It concluded that Ashwagandha provided no relief in treating psychogenic ED. 

An example of this was during a study which examined Ashwagandha’s effectiveness on psychogenic ED. 86 participants completed the treatment and it appeared that it was ineffective among both placebo and trial groups. It concluded that Ashwagandha provided no relief in treating psychogenic ED. 


The name chasteberry refers to the fruit of the chaste tree, which originates in Asia and the Mediterranean. The fruit contains a number of essential oils and is often used for menstrual related issues, which include cycle irregularities and breast pain. However, despite preliminary research suggesting its helpfulness, it’s thought the evidence is currently inconclusive

Does it work?

Based on the existing research into chasteberry’s use as an aphrodisiac, it doesn’t look promising. There is minimal research into the use of the fruit in increasing the male libido and there is no substantial evidence that it works effectively as an aphrodisiac. 

Use Aphrodisiacs Carefully

While certain aphrodisiacs may be considered ‘natural’ options when compared to pharmaceutical alternatives, this doesn’t mean they are a risk free option. You should always consider factors such as potential side effects, allergens and your medical history. Be sure to consult a medical professional for guidance surrounding the use of aphrodisiacs.



There are a wide range of supplements and products that are said to be aphrodisiacs. It’s important to remember that not every claim you see will be based on substantial or even conclusive research. You should always take a measured approach when weighing up your options and you should consider the potential side effects along with the benefits.

If you believe you have libido issues you should be sure to consult a medical professional and seek their guidance before using an aphrodisiac. Although the information in this article is intended to be informative it cannot be considered a substitute for professional medical advice. 

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