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Rural Legends from the Caribbean: Papaya and the Male Sex Drive

Updated on November 2, 2009
glendoncaba profile image

Glendon and his wife have led church ministries, conducted empowerment seminars, and travelled to faraway places on business and vacation.

Many Caribbean men refuse to eat papaya.

Rural folk on my island will tell you that a man must not let a papaya (papaw) plant grow too near to his home or it will take away his ‘nature’. I remember being told that if a very bad bull escaped and you managed to catch hold of its rope, just quickly wrap it around a papaya plant and the boisterous bull will calm down like a baby.

You have your urban legends and you have your rural legends.

I have not tested the bull story, and simply cannot vouch for the testicular negation effect of the fruit. I am a lover of fruit salad and there was a time when my fruit salads would not be complete without ripe banana, papaya, raisins, some orange juice for good measure, and cider vinegar and honey for sweetness and tartness.

Illustration of Carica papaya published by Franz Eugen Kohler.  Source Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons Share-Alike License.
Illustration of Carica papaya published by Franz Eugen Kohler. Source Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons Share-Alike License.
Papaya tree in my back yard.  Photo by Glendon Caballero.
Papaya tree in my back yard. Photo by Glendon Caballero.

Playing it Safe!

These days the long yellow phallic prominence of the banana is resuming its turgid pride of place in my family’s fruit bowl; the papaya reputation is causing me to think twice very time I put it into my shopping basket. Or reap it from one of the plants in my backyard.

Until the scientists give me the myth buster experiments here is what I know. Papaya, in addition to its rich vitamin mineral content, boasts a wonderful digestive enzyme, papain. Especially the green papaya is rich in this protease which is used as a meat tenderizer. Now listen to me: Papaya is also used for abortion and contraception. Put the three together:

· Tenderiser

· Contraceptive

· Abortifacient

I don’t need to be a rocket scientist to know that if folk medicine says that too much of this stuff not good for male gender I should at least pay it some token respect.

So I still eat papaya, but much less than, say, five to ten years ago. Back then I needed it to calm me down. After all I only had one wife! I still plant papaya trees in my backyard, but I don’t know for how much longer! Now that I am over 45 and admittedly slowing down to 7 times a night (laugh, OK scouts honour, 7 times a fortnight) I have begun to play it safe and have reduced my papaya intake. Just in case!!


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    • glendoncaba profile image

      glendoncaba 3 years ago from Somewhere in the hubverse

      Andrea: Should not be planted near your house at all. Feared that it will reduce the male sex drive. A tasty and nutritious fruit indeed but folk prefer the plant far from their bedroom.

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      Andrea 3 years ago

      Is it true that papaya tree should not be planted in front of the house?

    • glendoncaba profile image

      glendoncaba 5 years ago from Somewhere in the hubverse

      Hey Archie:

      Thanks for the visit and the comment. I was describing the rural legend but your wonderful engagement of the hub will no doubt stimulate further scientific investigation.

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      Archie 6 years ago

      Greetings! I was looking for pros and cons of eating papaya and was very eager to know if it's true that papaya can curtail male sex drive. Although you have a point there when you say that taking too much papaya might be dangerous to men because of it's protease contents which is used as tenderizer, contraceptive and abortifacient, I'm still fascinated with what I read a while ago in another blog that papaya can actually boost male fertility! According to Tommy Fassbender (, Papaya contains an enzyme called arginine which is known in the medical community to boost blood flow around the penis. Arginine boosts nitric acid in the body to relax the muscles surrounding the blood vessels that supply the penis. These blood vessels then dilate and increase blood flow. A more concentrated form of arginine is used to treat erectile dysfunction. Yet, to play it safe, just as you said, just eat papaya moderately.