These days, many men and women who grew up believing a satisfying sex life is a birth right are discovering that aging and the stress of modern living can result in a weakened libido or physical problems with sexual performance. In these cases, even the most tried of aphrodisiacs may not work. Fortunately, modern pharmaceuticals have picked up where tradition leaves off.
Until recently, medical science regarded sexual dysfunction as a result of psychological or emotional problems. However, most cases of what's now known as erectile dysfunction are acknowledged to be physical in nature and treatable with drugs rather than psychotherapy. Likewise among women, the decline in estrogen levels leading to menopause can dampen desire, reduce vaginal lubrication, and make sex painful as sexual organs atrophy. Testosterone, the sex hormone responsible for driving libido in both men and women, also decreases with age, diminishing desire.
While none of this means that sexual dysfunction can't be psychological in nature, it's more the exception than the rule. The introduction of Viagra as a treatment for erectile dysfunction was a revolutionary advancement over the self-administered injections available earlier, with over 16 million prescriptions written since the drug's introduction.
While development of drugs to increase sexual function for women has lagged behind, companies are racing to make such products available, including estrogen rings and blood flow creams that enhance genital sensation. Even hormone replacement therapy doesn't rev up libido unless you add testosterone to the usual mix of estrogen and progesterone and more women are rediscovering sexual intimacy thanks to treatment with this universal sex hormone. Soon "his and her" Viagra could be the aphrodisiacs of the 21st century.
So the age-old quest for the ultimate aphrodisiac continues, fueled in large part by men and women who once knew sexual rapture and aren't ready to settle for anything less. But if it's oysters or asparagus, secret scents or step aerobics, or modern medicines — most people seem to agree that no one thing alone can replace the power of being in love.