JUNE 21, 2023
HEALTH AND WELLNESS
TikTok says these tips will boost your sex life. They likely won’t – here’s what to do instead.
But you probably shouldn’t rely on the app for tips to improve your sex life.
Claims on TikTok that consuming caffeine makes orgasms more intense, a beverage will impact vaginal odor, and taking slippery elm bark boosts natural lubrication are among the most-searched, according to research from period and cycle tracking app Flo. But they are also not backed by research, experts say.
While it’s beneficial to start conversations online about common sex issues that some might feel uncomfortable discussing with a healthcare provider, it should be no surprise that taking health advice from random, unqualified strangers can be dangerous.
TikTok influencers, popular trends shouldn’t replace verified medical advice
There are plenty of experts who post content on social media. But for every doctor, sex therapist or nurse, there are dozens of posters who have little-to-no expertise in the areas they are discussing.
Even if what is being shared is accurate, it might not be applicable to many viewers, explains Dr. Jennifer Litner, sexologist and founder of Embrace Sexual Wellness.
“Not everyone on TikTok is an expert and not every finding people share is generalizable to every population,” Litner says. “I recommend individuals consult their healthcare providers and explore evidence-based research on any findings they come across before making changes to their health or lifestyle.”
One such popular claim is that of “kitty cocktails,” which suggests women drink a concoction of cranberry juice, pineapple juice, apple cider vinegar and honey before receiving oral sex. While apple cider vinegar can help balance pH, there isn’t scientific research to back up this viral claim.
Instead of looking for ways to “fix” the natural state of the vagina, experts say reframing the way people think and talk about vaginal health is important. What’s more, they worry trends like these can discourage people who are experiencing a problem, such as an abnormal odor, from knowing when it’s time to seek medical help.
“The main concern is giving out misinformation… and oversimplifying complicated sexual problems that can be dangerous or even life-threatening to their followers,” adds Dr. Sherry Ross, women’s sexual health expert and author of “She-ology.”
There’s no need to consume coffee before sex
Often times, viral sex advice sounds too good to be true for a reason, experts warn. Like the claim that “drinking coffee before sex will make your orgasm more intense.”
While caffeine is a stimulant and may therefore give you more energy, there isn’t enough research to prove that caffeine directly impacts orgasms − especially because there’s an “intense placebo effect for all sexuality-related drugs and supplements,” Litner says.
Caffeine also has side effects that could outweigh potential benefits, Ross says. Feeling anxious, dizzy and dehydrated, or experiencing headaches and fast heartbeats are all possible symptoms that could negatively impact the sexual experience.
There’s no one-size-fits-all cure for boosting orgasms, especially because “female desire, libido and orgasm are complicated and intricate and are impacted by hormones, neurotransmitters, your social situation, your psychological situation and your relationship with the person you are having sex with,” says OB/GYN and women’s health specialist Dr. Sameena Rahman.
Getting in tune with your body and partner (and consulting a doctor or sex therapist if needed) to figure out what may be negatively impacting your arousal is the best route, experts say.
“Being in the right state of mind and being comfortable and communicative with your partner maybe the only boost you need for better orgasms,” Ross says.
These supplements and sex don’t mix either
Taking slippery elm bark supplements to increase vaginal lubrication? While some users claim anecdotally that this has worked for them, medical experts say there’s no scientific evidence that it can do so.
The good news, experts say, is that there are plenty of lubricant options out there that are proven to work, including water-based, glycerin-free or silicone lubricants. Just beware some oil-based lubrications can break down latex barriers including condoms, Ross says.
Above all else, experts urge those looking to change or improve something within their body to consult medical professionals first.