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The gel contains these ingredients:

Aqua, Propylene Glycol, Glycerin, Hydroxyethylcellulose, PEG-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Aroma, Benzoic Acid, Sodium Hydroxide

Which of these should be the "active ingredient"?

  • 4
    After researching about this, I wouldn't be surprised if the next 500 spam mails I receive are offers for Viagra. – Narusan Sep 5 '17 at 20:30
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    A great question investigating ingredients, welcome user! – DoctorWhom Sep 6 '17 at 7:20
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TL;DR

Your gel does not contain an active ingredient that causes arousal.

The antifreeze agent propylene glycol will be perceived as an increase in body temperature, where-ever applied, which is supposed to turn one on.

Most of the ingredients are about the aggregate state and lubricity of the gel. Any drugs that enhance sexual performances (thanks @CareyGregory for catching that) are not prescriptive-free.

What the producing company advertises

They never say that the gel will cause sexual arousal, their only claim is that a "warming and cooling, pulsating sensation on the clitoris will be felt if applied".

Currently known drugs that can enhance sexual performance

For Men

To my knowledge, for men the PDE5 inhibitors

are the only known chemicals enhancing sexual performance.

For Women

Before 2015, no pharmaceutical drug has concluded its clinical trial as a substitute of viagra for women.

Today, only the 5-HT1A agonist

is mistakenly dubbed "female viagra" (the pharmacodynamics are totally different) as it is known to enhance the sexual performance of women.

The FDA has approved of the usage of flibanserin, while it is still denied in Europe due to dangerous side-effects (especially in combination with alcohol) and uncertainty about its effectiveness. (German Source Only).

The ingredients one by one

  • Aqua:
    Latin for water. That's what it is.

    It is used to indicate purified water in packages labelled according to the International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients.
    Source: Wikipedia

  • Propylene Glucol:
    This is a simple antifreeze agent which will increase the received body temperature when applied to the skin.

    Propylene glycol is a synthetic liquid substance that absorbs water. Propylene glycol is also used to make polyester compounds, and as a base for deicing solutions. Propylene glycol is used by the chemical, food, and pharmaceutical industries as an antifreeze when leakage might lead to contact with food.
    Source: CDC.gov

  • Glycerin:
    This is another name for the sugar alcohol glycerol, commonly used

    as a solvent, emollient, pharmaceutical agent, and sweetening agent.
    Source: PubChem.gov

  • Hydroxyethylcellulose:
    Another name for the chemical commonly called hetastarch, which is a

    derivative of starch used as a plasma expander when prepared in an isotonic solution.
    Source: PubChem.gov

  • PEG-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil:
    This oil is mostly used as a dissolving agent:

    Functions: Fragrance Ingredient; Surfactant - Emulsifying Agent; Surfactant - Solubilizing Agent; PERFUMING
    Source: EWG.org.
    .
    PEG Castor Oils and PEG Hydrogenated Castor Oils help to form emulsions by reducing the surface tension of the substances to be emulsified. They also help other ingredients to dissolve in a solvent in which they would not normally dissolve. Source: cosmeticsinfo.org

  • Aroma:
    This is not specific, so any types of additive that creates flavour falls under this category.

  • Benzoic Acid:
    This is one of the most common food preservatives.

    Benzoic acid is a fungistatic compound that is widely used as a food preservative.
    Source: PubChem.gov

  • Sodium Hydroxide:
    A simple base (NaOH) used to

    to neutralize acids and make sodium salts.
    Source: PubChem.gov

  • But "Aroma"? Couldn't that encompass anything, like essential oils, highly active, transportable, heating, cooling, tickling? More than just flavour. Which aroma exactly needs to be known before discounting it. Aroma is nondescript legalese for what? – LangLangC Sep 6 '17 at 16:43
  • @LangLangC Good Point. I am not accustomed to the food and pharmaceutical products nomenclature so I don't know what Aroma included. I do know that it can't cause sexual arousal, as the only known drugs have to be prescribed. So it doesn't invalidate my answer (no chemicals cause sexual arousal was my claim) but it could be that chemicals responsible are not only the glycerin, but also chemicals encompassed under the broad Aroma term. I'll research about that. Fyi, Aroma is the term of the EU for Flavor, and as the product in question is branded and produced in Europe, it does mean flavour. – Narusan Sep 6 '17 at 17:14
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    @LangLangC As best I can tell from FDA info, labeling something an aroma means it can't do much more than add smell or taste. I think if it's irritating enough to causes skin sensations they'd have to label it more specifically. – Carey Gregory Sep 6 '17 at 17:23
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    @Narusan One complaint: Viagra and related drugs don't actually cause sexual arousal. They only affect the ability to achieve and maintain an erection. – Carey Gregory Sep 6 '17 at 17:26
  • @LangLangC The German reads "Chemicals with the purpose of enhancing odour or flavour" are referred to as chemicals. IAN, but in my understanding of this text, if the chemicals also serve the purpose of something else, they must be declared. I doubt that Durex is violating EU regulations for declaration of ingredients. That would be quite devastating for the brand. – Narusan Sep 6 '17 at 19:01
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That product is marketed boldly as "Special formula designed to bring sensual waves of warming, cooling or tingling sensations. Increases sensitivity of her intimate areas for more intense pleasure. Up to 20 earth-shattering orgasms in 1 bottle." So it is intended to enhance not cause arousal.

That still sounds quite a bit like an overstatement. Looking through the consumer reviews1 on various sites gives mixed results, at best. Many negative experiences are reported (even on commercial sites selling it). Most seem concerned with bad smell, bad taste and, hm, "lack of action".

The "complete" list of ingredients amounts to only an almost meaningless account of substances. An "active ingredient" or "mechanism of action" is nowhere to be found. Not on the product, not with the manufacturer and not on review sites or testing agencies.

Most of the ingredients might account for anything:

Summing this up: unless the manufacturer opens its playbook and explains what is there to do what, this is probably a moderately unhealthy, slightly irritating lube. Together with its advertising framing this seems to be mostly a mind thing if received as pleasurable (a concept not totally unheard of). Published data on the ingredients and consumer reports seem to indicate that a similar effect might be achieved by mixing equal parts of peppermint and stinging nettle in a water-oil emulsion with milk.


1 This link leads to another product but with very similar ingredients. Main point being propylene glycol is also included in that one and it is at least halfway 'independently' reviewed. Links to commercial sellers of this product are numerous and they do not advertising coming from this site.

  • 1
    +1 for an excellent answer, and your last sentence deserves an upvote for itself – Narusan Sep 8 '17 at 16:02
  • This post seems more like a rant trying to persuade people of a products toxicity and tries to answer things that are not asked missing some of the ingredients. – user541905 Sep 9 '17 at 15:38
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    Besides, I had to check one reference. At least the the study about PEGs merely states that not enough studies have been concluded to tell that all of PEGs are safe. There is however a table describing that those which have been studied have been concluded safe ie. non-irritant except for when applied to the eyes ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4505343/table/T002 – user541905 Sep 9 '17 at 15:44
  • Many thanks for explaining your downvote. Since it is your question you know obviously best what you asked. Where did I misrepresent said study? It's one opinion concluding that the controversial but pure substance is deemed OK in most cases. But the industry has a documented hard time really using the stuff without impurities. Nobody actually tested the PEG-40 in the actual marketed product. Nobody tested the marketed product scientifically as a whole and we are left with only clues, drawn from theory about the chemicals and empirical reviews, leaving quite a bit of very reasonable doubt. – LangLangC Sep 12 '17 at 7:33

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