Can an herb or organic “toy” take your sex life from so-so to steamy? Our resident sex therapist has the lowdown on some popular alternative enhancers.
By Coralie McEachron
In the alternative wellness marketplace, there are plenty of treatments that promise to increase libido, make us feel less inhibited and boost our sexual performance and satisfaction. However, many are not the miracle cures they promise to be and some are dangerous.
Here are four sexual performance boosters that are widely used and what you need to know before you give them a try.
1. JADE EGGS
Why They’re Popular: Popularized as ‘yoni’ eggs, this practice is said to have been an ancient Chinese practice with a variety of benefits, including improving vaginal elasticity and tone, curing incontinence, strengthening the pelvic floor, decreasing cramping, and improving balance and feminine energy.
Truth: There is no connection between jade eggs and the Chinese culture. Companies advertising these claims have been hit with lawsuits.
Caveats: Jade eggs are extremely porous, which makes cleaning them difficult and puts you at risk of infections, including Toxic Shock Syndrome.
Rating: Red light
Alternatives: If using sex toys, look for non-porous materials including silicone, stainless steel or Borosilicate glass. If you have concerns regarding incontinence, vaginal tone and elasticity, see an OB/GYN, a physical therapist who specializes in pelvic floor therapy, or, a sex therapist. If you want to learn about your body and feminine energy, check out OMGYES.com, and consider engaging in sensual touch sans jade egg.
Why It’s Popular: Stepped-up grooming rituals are a common precursor to sexual encounters and douches have traditionally been marketed as the best way to “freshen up down there” and get rid of perceived or real odors in preparation for sexy time.
Truth or Myth: It is a short-term solution for a problem that may not be a problem. Vulvas and vaginal canals naturally have a scent different than flowers and perfumes. These scents are healthy and should be normalized.
Caveats: Using scented products or even overly splashing water inside the vaginal canal can disrupt the delicate balance of vaginal flora, leading to infection and a smell that may be more intense.
Rating: Yellow light
Alternatives: Instead of putting products or water into the vaginal canal, consider simply splashing water or using a gentle pH cleanser intended for genitalia to clean the vulva, or the delicate outer lips and bits of our vaginal area. You can pat dry or moisturize with a natural oil, such as coconut oil, or a vaginal moisturizer such as Replens. Use it up to three times weekly. Gently massaging among the inner and outer lips, and just within the edge of the vaginal canal can help to promote vaginal health and comfort.
3. FEMALE VIAGRA
Why It’s Popular: Unlocking the secret to female desire is a pharmaceutical company’s dream come true.
Truth or Myth: For women experiencing sexual dysfunction, incorporating Addyi only led to an increase of half of a “sexually satisfying encounter” a month.
Caveats: The impact on our genitals is not the same as desire felt and experienced in our minds and bodies. Men have a 50% correlation between genital response and stated arousal, whereas women only have a 10% overlap between how our genitals respond and whether we desire and want sex. Side effects may include dizziness, nausea, tiredness, trouble falling or staying asleep, dry mouth, and in some cases low blood pressure or loss of consciousness.
Rating: Yellow light
Alternatives: Consider focusing your attention on what helps you feel relaxed in your body, and on finding scenarios, phrasing, touch, and sensory stimuli that feel exciting, novel, sexy, and freeing to you.
4. HERBAL SUPPLEMENTS
Why It’s Popular: There are numerous herbal supplements which include: Tiger Sex Pills and other sex enhancers touted as 100% natural or herbal. These may claim to help anything from desire issues to erectile dysfunction for sexual enhancement.
Truth or Myth: Tiger King Sex pills have been cited by the FDA as having Sildenafil, the same active ingredient as Viagra. The Tiger King brand has been given a warning by the FDA and recommendation for tossing any unused product, as they can have negative drug interactions for people taking nitrates. Side effects from these pills have also included liver toxicity and hospitalization, with other drugs containing undisclosed drug ingredients or excessively high doses and combinations that pose health risks.
Caveats: Desire is very subjective and is not just indicated by bodily responses, but also by the wanting and craving in our mind, and feeling alive in our bodies. Herbal supplements may contain compounds that have an effect on the body, but in some cases may cause harm or be unpredictable. Consult a health professional.
Rating: Yellow light: herbal supplements/sexual enhancers as a whole; Red light: Tiger King Sex Pills.
Alternatives: Aphrodisiacs including oysters, strawberries and chocolate have long been touted as helping to ramp up sexual desire. There is no clinical evidence from the FDA to prove these foods work, but also none to prove the contrary. These foods can play a role in romantic associations, such as being something lovers can feed to one another, help support partners with slowing down and connecting, and creating a special stage for intimacy and romance.
Coralie is a licensed marriage and family therapist and relational and sex therapist. Have a question for her? Send it to Coralie at Coralie@northstarcounselingcenter.com for a chance to have it answered in an upcoming column.