Dr. Marie: Straight Talk About Aphrodisiacs

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  • People have been searching for libido enhancers ever since ancient times, but most methods have turned out to be bogus. There's no evidence that the ancient Chinese practice of swallowing ground rhinoceros horns improved sexual prowess. More recently, the hype about bottled pheromones -- the odorless secret to many animals' attraction -- proved unfounded.

    Even so, Marie Savard, M.D., Medical Contributor to "Good Morning America" and the author most recently of "Ask Dr. Marie," says that some purported aphrodisiacs do indeed heighten desire. Yet she maintains there is only one surefire way to boost the flagging sex drive that so often plagues women during and after menopause. We're saving that tip for last – but if you can't resist skipping ahead to find out what it is, we forgive you!
  • Yes, We'll Have Some Bananas! Popular wisdom has it that the yellow fruit gets women all excited because it resembles the male organ. Sounds to us like a guy thought that one up. But Dr. Marie says bananas are rich in potassium and B vitamins, nutrients we all need in order to produce sex hormones. So enjoying the peel-and-eat treat may in fact turn you on!
  • The World Is Your Oyster OK, gentlemen, it's your turn: Legend has it that oysters will up your interest because they resemble a vagina. The ancient Romans prized the oyster as an aphrodisiac, and Casanova, the infamous womanizer, purportedly ate 50 raw oysters for breakfast every morning. That's extreme, but he may have been on to something. Dr. Marie says oysters contain high levels of zinc, a key mineral in sperm production. They also have certain acids that have been shown to increase testosterone levels in rats. And ladies, just the idea that oysters are sexy can telegraph your intentions if you serve them as an appetizer for a dinner à deux!
  • Chocolate, the Classic Lover's Gift Chocolate doesn't affect your sex drive but it does have a lot of serotonin, the feel-good hormone. Simply by making you happy, the traditional gift of lovers may in turn give you, ahem, ideas. Oh, and dark chocolate has now been shown to lower your blood pressure. You have our permission to pop some bon bons guilt free and decide for yourself whether they make a difference in the romance department.
  • Nothing Fishy About This Claim! Fish oil is a rich source of omega-3s that have all sorts of good effects on your body – and a healthy body is by definition sexier. Dr. Marie says she takes two to four fish oil capsules daily – but she and her husband also augment their mood in the hot tub!
  • The Little Blue Pill What about Viagra? It engorges the penis with blood, but an erection won't happen unless a man was feeling amorous in the first place. However, a recent study of women who had reduced libido after taking antidepressants showed that the participants felt more interested in sex when they took Viagra. On a less encouraging note, the once highly touted "female Viagra," Filbanserin, fizzled in all the trials.
  • A Dose of the Guy Hormone Will Get You There Here's the secret we promised you Dr. Marie would share: The only true aphrodisiac for women is the male hormone testosterone. Our adrenal glands and ovaries naturally produce it until menopause but then the levels plummet. For some women, the drop is precipitous. If you've lost interest in sex, this could be the reason. Testosterone patches are Dr. Marie's preferred delivery method since the meds bypass your liver, but the FDA has yet to approve the patches for women. The only option is a combination of oral estrogen and oral testosterone. Dr. Marie says it's better than nothing if you and your doctor agree that you need the hormone to get you back in the game.

    Do you think that aphrodisiacs work?

    Please, though, come back to learn about Dr. Marie's other prescriptions for getting in the mood.