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Are Oysters an Aphrodisiac?

Katelyn Hagerty FNP

Medically reviewed by Katelyn Hagerty FNP

Written by Our Editorial Team

Last updated 11/26/2021

Let’s set the scene. Sit-down dinner. Seafood joint. Lovely spot. Lovelier date. 

Best part? Tonight might be the night. But you want that extra boost. You scan the menu and see raw oysters on the half-shell. 

Now, you’ve heard the rumors — more desire, better sex. 

Do you order a couple dozen oysters and book you and your date VIP tickets to PleasureFest?

Or, to the delight of anyone with Pepto-Bismol® stock, do you end up curled on the bathroom floor, praying for mercy?

Historically, oysters are considered one of nature’s great aphrodisiacs, dating back to the times of Cassanova, according to some sources. But is there truth to any of it? And also, what the heck is an aphrodisiac, anyway?

Well, grab some cocktail sauce and let’s dig in.

What Is an Aphrodisiac?

Simply put, an aphrodisiac is any food or drug that arouses and enhances sexual stamina and desire.

Throughout history, many cultures have found particular substances enhance sex drive

However, many natural substances cultures deemed valuable to sexual performance have been proven to be more mythology than hard science.

The mythology of aphrodisiac powers has been bandied about since the days of the Ancient Greeks. 

They, too, found particular foods as ways of honoring Athena, the goddess of love, thereby giving themselves the necessary “good juju” to bring it in the bedroom.

Today, society has a potpourri of natural substances and foods we consider powerful, natural aphrodisiacs — oysters are just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. 

But, with all the gossip surrounding oysters and their magical powers, do they really have an effect — or a potent one, at that — on our sex drive?

Can Oysters Impact Your Sex Drive?

We’ll get right to it: the conclusive scientific evidence surrounding oysters’ effectiveness as aphrodisiacs is, at best, mixed.

Some natural minerals in oysters contribute to peoples’ suspicion that they are natural aphrodisiacs — specifically, the high levels of zinc found in them. 

In fact, the National Institutes of Health have noted that oysters top the charts regarding foods containing zinc.

This makes some amount of sense, since studies have shown that one cause of sexual impotence is a person’s zinc deficiency.

However, there’s no conclusive evidence that the zinc in oysters alone can be responsible for one’s perceived sexual performance.

Researchers also hypothesize two amino acids found in oysters — D-aspartic acid and N-methyl-D-aspartate — could lend a clue as to these slimy seafoods’ sexual efficacy.

But a larger body of research suggests we still don’t quite understand how well oysters boost our sex drives.

To dig a little deeper, the jury’s still out as to whether D-aspartic acid can impact a man’s physicality — much less his libido — in a positive way.

A 2015 study of D-aspartic acid on groups of weightlifters found that a daily dose of six grams of D-aspartic acid decreased their testosterone levels. 

For men, higher levels of testosterone may lead to a greater sex drive. 

Simply put, if some researchers believe these compounds are great, while other studies suggest they’re not, do we really have the answer?

Are Oysters Really an Aphrodisiac?

The evidence surrounding what constitutes an aphrodisiac is — pun very much intended — murky. 

Because aphrodisiacs are as much urban legend as they are hard science, the conclusivity behind oysters’ sexual reciprocity is lacking. 

A good deal of aphrodisiacs’ efficacy is just as rooted in a placebo effect, urban legend and happenstance as they are in bonafide, conclusive evidence that points to their efficacy.

That goes for oysters and anything else.

However, given the findings on what can cause sexual difficulties, natural products and foods that holistically aid those problems can’t hurt and, indeed, might help.

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Can Other Foods Boost Your Sex Drive?

The evidence is inconclusive. 

While plenty of research has been conducted on mice regarding the use of botanicals and herbal supplements to support sexual activity, the data has yet to sort out a definitive answer.

However, some believe that all-natural options that increase blood flow will, in turn, help blood flow to the — ehm — place us men need them to go.

One substance, for instance, is chocolate. The effects of dark chocolate on a person’s blood flow have been proven noteworthy. 

And, given the studies on blood flow’s impact on sexual performance, some dark chocolate certainly can’t do any harm if you’re hoping to prime the proverbial pump.

The evidence before us, however, points to no solid yes or no answers when it comes to there being a natural remedy for sexual obstacles folks experience on a daily basis.

Why Do We Need Aphrodisiacs?

Well, we can point to a couple of reasons.

First, any boost to our sexual health is something we’d gladly invite — right? 

After all, sexual activity is one of the healthiest activities we can engage in on a daily basis. 

First, the data proves sex can enhance our immune system, decerease our blood pressure and even offer some overall health benefits.

Further, the more we have sex, the better our sexual performance. That’s one kind of workout most would gladly make more time for.

Another reason for needing an aphrodisiac is our bodies may not be performing as we want them to perform — or as well as they used to. 

To be clear, it is perfectly OK to need a little help. 

Our bodies evolve over time, and it’s essential we respect their evolution and adapt accordingly. 

Think about it this way: we’re perfectly glad using serums and creams to enhance the quality of our skin. Why not apply that same, pragmatic logic to taking care of ourselves sexually?

Understanding that erectile dysfunction has several root causes, there are therefore several reasons men need a little help in the bedroom. 

Science-Backed Remedies for Erectile Dysfunction

So, we’ve covered the oyster thing. We even talked about some other natural “remedies” for bedroom issues. 

The key issue, time and time again, is that there’s no definitive science to back up aphrodisiacs like oysters, dark chocolate, etc. 

If you’re having issues in the bedroom, the best and most reliable way to help treat those issues is by speaking to a healthcare provider about what your options are.

Before your meeting, however, it’s important to know which drugs your healthcare provider will likely recommend.

For Erectile Dysfunction

When it comes to erectile dysfunction, the three most cost commonly prescribed ED medications are:

The first drug, sildenafil, is in a class of medications called PDE5 inhibitors. These drugs are designed to enhance blood flow to the penis. 

In one long-term study of those who took it, between 70 percent to 80 percent of folks experienced improved erectile performance. 

Vardenafil is another first-generation ED medication and PDE5 inhibitor that came out in the early 2000s as an alternative to sildenafil. 

It has a slightly longer half-life than sildenafil, meaning it lasts slightly longer, per dose. 

Tadalafil, sol under the brand name Cialis, also dilates blood vessels, thereby increasing blood flow into particular areas of the body. Increased blood flow equals enhanced erectile function. 

This PDE5 inhibitor is also sometimes called the “weekend pill” because one dose can last up to 36 hours — significantly longer than any of the other popular ED medications.

Finally, avanafil, sold under the brand name Stendra, is a new-generation PDE5 inhibitor that’s quickly becoming a popular choice among the ED medication crowd because of its early onset of action — meaning, it kicks in faster. 

Some studies have shown avanafil can be active in the body within 15 minutes of taking — twice as fast as sildenafil. 

For Premature Ejaculation

Whether you were considering oysters to help with erectile dysfunction or to help mitigate the symptoms associated with premature ejaculation, there are also FDA-approved, science-backed methods to help remedy this.

For instance, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, commonly known as SSRIs, are often prescribed to help patients suffering from premature ejaculation. 

And the science is there to support it, too.

In one study from 2007, 100 men with premature ejaculation issues were given one of three SSRIs — either escitalopram, paroxetine or fluoxetine — for a total of four weeks. 

At the end of the four-week study, literally 100 percent of the men had experienced improvements in premature ejaculation and overall sexual satisfaction. 

There are also numerous ways aside from medication to help remedy premature ejaculation, including anesthetic creams and gels, thicker condoms, different bedroom techniques and more. 

We’ve talked more about these methods in our How to Stop Premature Ejaculation guide. 

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Should Oysters Be Your Quick Fix for ED?

Although sexual dysfunction may be stigmatized, you shouldn’t hesitate when it comes to helping yourself.

A healthy sex life is a healthy life. No matter what, it’s critical to prioritize your mental and physical health.

It’s important to remember that there are resources available today at your fingertips to help you help yourself.

Don’t hesitate to do so.

17 Sources

Hims & Hers has strict sourcing guidelines to ensure our content is accurate and current. We rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We strive to use primary sources and refrain from using tertiary references.

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  2. West E, Krychman M (October 2015). "Natural Aphrodisiacs-A Review of Selected Sexual Enhancers". Sex Med Rev. 3 (4): 279–288. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27784600/.
  3. Medical Blog. National Institute of Health. No Author Available. 26 March 2021. Zinc. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Zinc-HealthProfessional/.
  4. Roshanzamir, F., & Safavi, S. M. (2017). The putative effects of D-Aspartic acid on blood testosterone levels: A systematic review. International journal of reproductive biomedicine, 15(1), 1–10. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5340133/.
  5. Melville, G. W., Siegler, J. C., & Marshall, P. W. (2015). Three and six grams supplementation of d-aspartic acid in resistance trained men. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 12, 15. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4384294/.
  6. Harvard Health Publishing. Harvard Medical School. No Author Name Available. 29 August 2019. Testosterone — What it Does and Doesn’t Do. Retrieved from: https://www.health.harvard.edu/drugs-and-medications/testosterone —what-it-does-and-doesnt-do.
  7. Medical Blog. Mayo Clinic. Bauer, Brent A. MD. No Date Available. Natural Aphrodisiacs: Do They Really Work? Retrieved from: https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/sexual-health/expert-answers/natural-aphrodisiacs/faq-20058252.
  8. Kotta, S., Ansari, S. H., & Ali, J. (2013). Exploring scientifically proven herbal aphrodisiacs. Pharmacognosy reviews, 7(13), 1–10. https://doi.org/10.4103/0973-7847.112832 Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3731873/.
  9. British Journal of Nutrition , Volume 111 , Issue 4 , 28 February 2014 , pp. 653 - 661
  10. Retrieved from: https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/british-journal-of-nutrition/article/effects-of-dark-chocolate-and-cocoa-consumption-on-endothelial-function-and-arterial-stiffness-in-overweight-adults/9E005E95AB9CC9EED9DD0BEC781B5085
  11. Shamloul R. (2010). Natural aphrodisiacs. The journal of sexual medicine, 7(1 Pt 1), 39–49. Retrieved from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19796015/.
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  13. McCullough A. R. (2002). Four-year review of sildenafil citrate. Reviews in urology, 4 Suppl 3(Suppl 3), S26–S38. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1476025/
  14. U.S. National Library of Medicine. MedlinePlus. No Author Available. 15 April 2016. Tadalafil. Retrieved from: https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a604008.html.
  15. Dissanayake, D., Wijesinghe, P. S., Ratnasooriya, W. D., & Wimalasena, S. (2009). Effects of zinc supplementation on sexual behavior of male rats. Journal of human reproductive sciences, 2(2), 57–61. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2800928/
  16. Harvard Health Publishing. (2019, August 29). Testosterone — What It Does And Doesn't Do. https://www.health.harvard.edu/drugs-and-medications/testosterone--what-it-does-and-doesnt-do
  17. The American Urology Association. (2018, June). What is Erectile Dysfunction? https://www.urologyhealth.org/urology-a-z/e/erectile-dysfunction-(ed)

This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for and should never be relied upon for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment.

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