Spanish Fly: Aphrodisiac or Waste of Money?

This product was considered an aphrodisiac thought to drive women wild, and in reality, it probably did, but with harmful side effects rather than sexual desire.

Dr. Jed Kaminetsky
Board Certified Urologist, expert in male sexual dysfunction
by Dr. Jed Kaminetsky Last updated 01/05/2024
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Man questioning the efficacy of Spanish fly

If you grew up in an era where porn came from magazines primarily, you've likely heard of Spanish fly.

It was marketed as a powerful aphrodisiac, able to significantly increase libido levels of any man or woman instantly, but in reality it’s nothing more than snake oil.

Quick FAQs

Neither the old formula of Spanish fly with blister beetle extract nor the modern formula with who knows what in them have been proven to offer any sexual benefits or aphrodisiac qualities.

The old formula that used cantharidin, an extract of the blister beetle could in fact kill you. While the modern formulas are not likely to kill you, they also won’t provide you with the benefits you’re looking for either.

There are several high-quality supplements and sexual aid products sold by reputable companies that do offer genuine benefits, like VitaFLUX from Promescent.

What is Spanish Fly?

Blister beetle extract cantharidin used to be primary ingredient in spanish fly

The term itself  "Spanish fly" is even nonsensical because it's neither Spanish nor is it derived from flies.

The original Spanish fly product was an extract from cantharidin, which comes from blister beetles.

Like its namesake, cantharidin causes blisters and has a profound effect on the body when consumed, and not in a good or sexy way.

Let's take a look at this aphrodisiac and its current state of affairs in modern sexual health.

What is Spanish fly used for?

Uses of Spanish Fly

Vaguely, Spanish fly pills are supposed to be an aphrodisiac.

For men, it supposedly causes:

  • stronger erections
  • non-stop libido
  • increased sex drive 
  • Improved stamina

If you're wondering what does Spanish fly do to a woman, the answer is even less clear.

It's supposed to make them extremely aroused, but it's unclear how exactly.

The fact is that real Spanish fly doesn't do much but harm your body.

Does Spanish fly work?

Does Spanish fly work

Spanish fly, in its current form, isn't really useful for anything.

Even if the one you obtain versions that also contain beneficial vitamins or nutrients in it, you're still far better off buying a real sexual health supplement from a reputable company like Promescent.

Anything calling itself "Spanish fly" is snake oil at best.

Are there risks or side effects of Spanish fly?

Side effects of Spanish fly

The original Spanish fly had a ton of negative side effects, including:

  • Priapism, which is a painful erection you cannot get rid of
  • Vomiting or peeing blood
  • Seizures
  • Stomach pain
  • Intestinal bleeding
  • General inflammation
  • Throat swelling
  • Difficulty breathing

Can Spanish fly kill you?

Can Spanish fly kill you?

The original version of Spanish fly definitely can kill you and can cause permanent damage even if you survive.

Cantharidin might have some medicinal properties (it's being researched as a cancer drug, for instance), but it's not an aphrodisiac.

Can you Still buy Spanish fly?

You can still head to your local adult bookstore and buy it in many cases.

You can order it online as well, but if you're buying it now, it's almost certainly just an "aphrodisiac" herbal supplement.

It might have some benefits, even just as a placebo - but there are far better options out there nowadays.

What's in Spanish fly? 

Well, it varies - some currently available options included:

    • L-arginine (which is actually useful for nitric oxide production)
    • Water
    • Fructose
  • Various herbs
  • Melatonin (which helps with sleep, so that's an odd choice)

The name "Spanish fly" appears to have become a generalized name for some libido supplements targeting older demographics.

Are there alternatives to Spanish fly?

Alternatives to using Spanish fly

There are plenty of useful, scientifically proven, and tested alternatives to Spanish fly for men.

When looking for an alternative to Spanish fly, you want to address your specific sexual health difficulties.

If you're having trouble with premature ejaculation, there are specific tools for that.

If you're having trouble achieving or maintaining an erection, you want something else.

The nice thing about scientifically-backed products is that you know what they're treating, how it works, and that it works.

OTC Premature Ejaculation treatments

Premature ejaculation is embarrassing and can really put a damper on your sex life, but it doesn’t have to be. Fortunately, it is one of the most treatable forms of sexual dysfunction.


Premature ejaculation sprays work by using lidocaine or benzocaine to gently desensitize the nerves of the penis.

 Premature Ejaculation Spray

Most men who use these sprays report an increase in their performance time, often going from a few seconds to 5 minutes.

Promescent delay spray comes in a convenient, small bottle for travel and easy access, and it works like a charm, helping you stay in the game longer.


Delay wipes work almost identically to delay sprays, but many use benzocaine instead.

Promescent delay wipes as an alternative to using spanish fly

The results are similar, but these are a good alternative if you're allergic to lidocaine.

Some people also prefer the wipes because they are great when you’re on the go.

Simply apply, wait ten minutes, and then proceed as normal.

Exercises and techniques

The following techniques are daily habits you can engage in that can help make sex feel better, help you get better erections, and last longer.


A stronger heart means harder erections and less erectile dysfunction.

For many men, ED is due to poor circulatory health, and general lifestyle improvements can help immensely. Exercise is one such improvement.


By squeezing the pelvic floor muscles responsible for cutting off your pee mid-stream, you can strengthen your erections and your orgasms.

Aim for ten squeezes, holding for 10 seconds each per day. Stronger pelvic floor muscles will also help you stop yourself from orgasming if need be.

Chair squeeze kegels


Masturbating or having sex to the point of orgasm and then stopping is called "edging," and it helps you control your orgasm better.

The Stop Start method or edging to last longer without Spanish fly

It also helps you last longer and makes orgasms extremely powerful when you finally climax.

Squeeze Method

The squeeze method is a process of stopping orgasm by squeezing your penis. Though this isn't generally recommended, it is a way to prevent premature ejaculation.

Lifestyle Changes

Healthy lifestyle changes can help make every aspect of your life better, including sex.


Stop smoking. It's not good for you in any capacity. It costs too much money, smells bad, ruins your teeth, and more.

Additionally, it hurts your heart and your blood vessels and contributes to atherosclerosis which causes ED.


Long-term alcohol abuse makes ED worse, but acute intense intoxication can also inhibit the ability to gain an erection temporarily.

Dial back the drinking, and you should see some improvements in your sex life.


Processed foods, simple carbs, and sugar all contribute to weight gain, systemic inflammation, and poor health.

Eat healthy, whole foods and cook at home, and you'll see an improvement in your waistline, mood, and sex life.

Premature Ejaculation Medication

There are some medications that help with premature ejaculation, but like with any medication, they come with risks and side effects you need to be aware of before taking them.


SSRIs as alternative to Spanish Fly

The selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors you might take for anxiety or depression can be used to treat premature ejaculation in small doses.

In fact, one of the major side effects of SSRIs is difficult orgasming, which is why many people don't want to be on them.

For those with premature ejaculation issues, they can be a viable solution.

PDE-5 inhibitors

These drugs - like Viagra - are commonly used to treat erectile dysfunction by dilating blood vessels.

But, it has been found that they work to delay orgasm in lower doses and can help with premature ejaculation.


Man exercising instead of using Spanish fly

Spanish fly liquid, capsules, and powders are a waste of money.

It’s an outdated concept that doesn't really do anything now and was downright dangerous in the past.

These days Spanish fly is, at best, a herbal supplement.

The real Spanish fly, which includes cantharidin, is a toxic substance that may cause injury or death.

There are so many other treatment options out there that actually work and are proven, safe, and effective.

Dr. Jed Kaminetsky

Dr. Jed Kaminetsky

Dr. Jed Kaminetsky M.D. is an American Board Certified Urologist and earned his Medical Degree at New York University. In his tenure he became a member of the American Urological Association and the American College of Surgeons. Dr. Kaminetsky pioneered the minimally invasive Rezum BPH treatment and is an expert in male and female dysfunction.


Absorption Pharmaceuticals LLC (Promescent) has strict informational citing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic or research institutions, medical associations, and medical experts. We attempt to use primary sources and refrain from using tertiary references and only citing trustworthy sources. Each article is reviewed, written, and updated by Medical Professionals or authoritative Experts in a specific, related field of practice. You can find out more about how we ensure our content is accurate and current by reading our editorial policy.

  • Karras, D. J., Farrell, S. E., Harrigan, R. A., Henretig, F. M., & Gealt, L. (1996). Poisoning from "Spanish fly" (cantharidin). The American journal of emergency medicine, 14(5), 478–483. Accessed June 7, 2022.
  • Rauh, R., Kahl, S., Boechzelt, H., Bauer, R., Kaina, B., & Efferth, T. (2007). Molecular biology of cantharidin in cancer cells. Chinese medicine, 2, 8. Accessed June 7, 2022.
  • Lamina, S., Agbanusi, E., & Nwacha, R. C. (2011). Effects of aerobic exercise in the management of erectile dysfunction: a meta analysis study on randomized controlled trials. Ethiopian journal of health sciences, 21(3), 195–201. Accessed June 7, 2022.
  • Arafa, M., & Shamloul, R. (2007). A randomized study examining the effect of 3 SSRI on premature ejaculation using a validated questionnaire. Therapeutics and clinical risk management, 3(4), 527–531. Accessed June 7, 2022.
  • Martyn-St James, M., Cooper, K., Ren, S., Kaltenthaler, E., Dickinson, K., Cantrell, A., Wylie, K., Frodsham, L., & Hood, C. (2017). Phosphodiesterase Type 5 Inhibitors for Premature Ejaculation: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. European urology focus, 3(1), 119–129. Accessed June 7, 2022.
The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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