Nutrition Myths
Are oysters really an aphrodisiac?


  • If you want to improve your fertility oysters (and other zinc rich foods) may be helpful.
  • Science doesn’t prove but also does not exclude the possibility that oysters increase the libido in men.
  • The scientific data on aphrodisiacs from natural sources in women is even more limited.

Are Oysters an aphrodisiac?

Aphrodisiac related subjects are quite popular in the media and have been appearing frequently. The news stories are usually dug up from the past, based on inconclusive studies or refer to new studies based on insufficient evidence to make definite conclusions.

Even if there are references to scientific studies, the media often tend to misinterpret the results or blow the conclusions out of proportion.

What does science say about oysters being aphrodisiacs?

Historical aspect

Oysters have been considered to be aphrodisiacs for thousands of years. However, there is still no scientific evidence of that effect. (1)

What started that myth was, most likely, the simple fact that oysters, just like other foods (avocado, bananas or figs) or objects (rhinoceros horn), resemble human genitalia, which in the past (or even now in some cultures) were believed to possess sexual powers. This myth started thousands of years ago when science was not yet involved. (2)

Sexual desire is not the same as increased fertility

The concept of having more sexual desire and performance is often confused with the concept of higher fertility or healthy sperm.

The fertility of males, for instance, can be improved by increasing the intake of certain minerals such as zinc. (3)

Putting it simply, a man is more likely to become a father if he has healthy sperm.

However, there is no evidence that zinc makes men or women sexually more aroused.

Oysters contain a high level of zinc. Zinc together with other nutrients, such as vitamin B complex, selenium etc. play an important role in the male reproductive system, increasing sperm count and motility (ability to move efficiently) and enhancing hormone production. (4, 5, 6)

This doesn’t prove, however, that the sexual desire or performance is improved by any of these nutrients.

Another hypothesis is that the reproductive system is stimulated by alkaloids or flavonoids obtained from oysters. (7, 8)

Similarly, there is no evidence that these substances improve sex drive.


You will find a summary of the most common nutrition myths and evidence-based nutrition facts here.


Get updates

Receive regular updates on nutrition myths, facts and curiosities. All based on the latest scientific evidence.