OTC male enhancement product often ineffective, possibly harmful

Customers discussing medication in a pharmacy

Over the counter male sexual enhancement products have been found to be ineffective majority of the time and possibly pose as a health threat as well. Many men look to over the counter supplements as a means for male sexual enhancement but without regulation of dosages or ingredients side effects and effectiveness overall is often unknown. Additionally, many of these products use ingredients found in Viagra which can be harmful to men with certain health problems.


For the study, researchers analyzed ingredients of top selling male sexual enhancement products and reviewed the ingredients.

Study senior author Dr. Ryan Terlecki said, “While certain natural supplements we reviewed show promise for improving mild sexual dysfunction, they lack robust human evidence. In addition, because of concerns that some products are impure or weak, we do not routinely recommend these products to our patients.”

Common ingredients found in many of these supplements include horny goat weed, ginseng, DHEA, Ginkgo biloba, fenugreek and maca.
Not only is there minimal evidence to support the claims made by many of these supplements but researchers also found that in products labeled “natural” contain phosphodiesterase-5-inhibitors (PDE5Is) which is commonly found in prescription drugs. In fact another study revealed that 81 percent of tested natural male enhancement supplements contain PDE5Is.

Terlecki added, “PDE5Is cannot yet be legally sold over the counter in this country. Men who use these medications without a physician’s supervision run the risk of taking them inappropriately. Patients with advanced heart disease, for example, or who take nitrates, such as nitroglycerin, should not use PDE5Is as it may cause an unsafe drop in blood pressure. Likewise, men with severe liver impairment or end-stage kidney disease requiring dialysis should avoid these products.”


Additionally, men on certain medications for conditions like an enlarged prostate are at a higher risk for dizziness and falls if they take products with PDE5Is. Always speak to your doctor before picking up over the counter supplements to ensure minimal complications.

The findings were published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine.


Author Bio

Emily Lunardo studied medical sociology at York University with a strong focus on the social determinants of health and mental illness. She is a registered Zumba instructor, as well as a Canfit Pro trainer, who teaches fitness classes on a weekly basis. Emily practices healthy habits in her own life as well as helps others with their own personal health goals. Emily joined Bel Marra Health as a health writer in 2013.