From gas-station boner pills to impeccably sauced oysters, people will put all kinds of stuff in their body if they think it’ll function as an aphrodisiac. Even I, a sex journalist who ostensibly should know better, have occasionally tried to enhance my libido with substances like horny goat weed and, uh, regular weed.
Our culture heaps so much pressure on us when it comes to sex: We’re supposed to desire it, pursue it and enjoy it, and if we struggle with any of those steps, it’s easy to feel like we’re sexually broken. Obviously that’s not true — your sex life doesn’t define your value, and some people don’t even want or enjoy sex — but given how high the stakes can feel, it makes total sense that so many people seek out alternative means of getting horny and getting off, especially if they don’t have access to more conventional treatments like hormone replacement therapy or erectile dysfunction drugs.
As such, new aphrodisiac products (or products that claim to be aphrodisiacs) are launched all the time, though it’s tough to know what might work and what won’t. The Love Gel by skincare company They Call Her Alfie is a good example. The formula contains fenugreek, an ingredient well known for its culinary applications that’s also been getting some recent attention as a potential aphrodisiac.
Does the gel actually work, though? Or is it just snake oil you can pour on your pussy?
What Is Fenugreek, and What Does It Do?
Fenugreek is a leafy plant best known for its usage in food, especially Indian cuisine (it tastes a bit like maple syrup). But it can also be an aphrodisiac, at least according to some people.
Scientifically speaking, the jury’s still out on whether fenugreek actually works for this purpose, but some research has shown promising results. Taking fenugreek capsules for two full menstrual cycles increased levels of the sex hormones estradiol and testosterone in the women who participated in one small Australian study, boosting their sexual desire and arousal and also prompting them to have more sex. Another small study found that estradiol and testosterone were increased after taking fenugreek supplements daily for six weeks, easing the sexual dysfunctions that participants were dealing with. Taking fenugreek has also been shown to improve libido, mood and sperm count in men, because of the way it raises testosterone levels.
But what about when you apply fenugreek directly to your junk? A small Iranian study discovered that applying a fenugreek-infused vaginal cream daily for eight weeks enhanced post-menopausal women’s sexual satisfaction and lessened the genital pain they were experiencing during sex. Similar studies have found that fenugreek cream helps to treat “vaginal atrophy,” the uncomfortable and painful phenomenon that happens when the vaginal walls start to thin out as estrogen levels drop with age. Fenugreek isn’t as effective for this problem as actual hormone replacement therapy, but its estrogen-boosting effects are impressive nonetheless.
Fenugreek isn’t recommended for people who are pregnant or who are allergic to peanuts or chickpeas. But if you struggle with low libido or low capacity for arousal, it could be worth talking to your doctor about whether fenugreek — taken either as a supplement or via a topical product like They Call Her Alfie’s Love Gel — might ease those symptoms.
What You Need to Know About They Call Her Alfie’s Love Gel
The Love Gel by They Call Her Alfie is packed with ingredients that are known or suspected to be aphrodisiacs — fenugreek, yes, but also eurycoma longifolia extract, hops extract and acmella oleracea extract. You’re meant to apply one to two pumps of the gel to the clitoris a few minutes before sex, to give the active ingredients enough time to work their magic. The brand claims that the product increases natural lubrication and sexual sensitivity by increasing blood flow to the area — but what do people say once they’ve actually tried it?
“I was skeptical about this product, but it does work,” one Amazon reviewer conceded. “I could immediately feel the warming sensation, which was arousing. It definitely made me more sensitive and my experience was more enjoyable.” Another user agreed: “Wasn’t expecting much, but… Whoa. Not gonna lie, this felt pretty dang nice.”
A different reviewer was surprised that the Love Gel cut down the amount of time it took them to get turned on from a few minutes to just 30 seconds or so. Reporting similar results, yet another user wrote, “It completely makes things down there more sensitive and satisfying! I can’t really get into details, but I have to say I have never experienced anything like this with any other product. It is worth every penny!!!”
Not everyone who tried the Love Gel was impressed, though. Many users found that the ingredients meant to produce a tantalizing tingle actually just burned. “This felt like a million tiny knives on my skin,” one wrote. “Not pleasant at all and lasted for days.” Another pointed out that since “fragrance” is listed as an ingredient, this product might cause vaginal irritation if it slides down from the clit toward the vaginal opening. A different person didn’t like that the gel is brown, because it looks unsightly (I mean, who wants brown lube?!) and can stain your sheets. A few users also observed that the gel doesn’t taste great — so if you were hoping to combine the aphrodisiacs in the product with cunnilingus, you might be out of luck.
It’s worth noting, too, that the studies that “proved” fenugreek’s effectiveness for sexual dysfunctions were small, and thus inconclusive, ‘cause that’s how science works: You can’t extrapolate that the effects seen in a tiny study would also be seen in the population writ large. The studies also generally involved participants taking or applying fenugreek on a daily basis for weeks or months at a time, something that you’re not likely to do with an arousal gel. So while it seems likely that this ingredient has some positive effects for some people in some situations, you should take claims about it with a big grain of salt (or of… fenugreek).
Based on its mixed reviews, it’s hard to give the Alfie Love Gel a resounding recommendation. Hell, scientists can’t even agree yet on whether its star ingredient does what the brand claims it does. But if you’re sexually adventurous and willing to take a risk on the off-chance that it improves your sex life, give it a shot (and maybe run it by your doctor first). You could end up with burning genitals — or a burning-hot sex life. Who knows?