An aphrodisiac is a substance that increases sexual desire, sexual attraction, sexual pleasure, or sexual behavior. Substances range from a variety of plants, spices, foods, and synthetic chemicals. Therefore, they can be classified by their chemical properties (i.e., substances that are natural and unnatural). Natural aphrodisiacs like alcohol or cocaine are further classified into plant-based and non-plant-based substances. Unnatural aphrodisiacs like ecstasy or methamphetamine are classified as those that are manufactured to imitate a natural substance. Aphrodisiacs can also be classified by their type of effects (i.e., psychological or physiological).
Aphrodisiacs that contain hallucinogenic properties like Bufotenin have psychological effects on a person that can increase sexual desire and sexual pleasure. Aphrodisiacs that contain smooth muscle relaxing properties like yohimbine have physiological effects on a person that can affect hormone levels and increase blood flow.
Both males and females can benefit from the use of aphrodisiacs, but they are more focused on males as their properties tend to increase testosterone levels rather than estrogen levels. This is in part due to the historical context of aphrodisiacs, which focused solely on males. Only recent attention has been paid to understanding how aphrodisiacs can aid female sexual function.