Erectile dysfunction (ED) affects a person’s ability to get or keep an erection. While many companies advertise “natural” male enhancement pills online, these are often more dangerous than prescription alternatives.
Male enhancement pills are over-the-counter (OTC) pills that claim to help people have and maintain an erection. Instead of prescription medications, these products use herbs with very little scientific evidence of their effectiveness.
Some common ingredients in OTC pills include ashwagandha, saw palmetto, and horny goat’s weed. Many manufacturers use proprietary blends, meaning they do not disclose the exact herbs or amount they use in the ingredients list.
While OTC male enhancement pills are available online and in some stores, people should avoid using them unless they have discussed this with a healthcare professional. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warns that these pills can often contain undisclosed sildenafil, the main ingredient in Viagra. Sildenafil can interact with prescription medication and supplements, causing unintentional and dangerous side effects.
A 2021 study found that some common ingredients, such as ginseng and tribulus terrestris, show promise and require more research.
However, there is little evidence that the other ingredients in the products are effective. One analysis states that there are limited human studies on the effects of supplements on ED.
Additionally, another 2021 study found that all of the OTC products the researchers examined contained undisclosed sildenafil. This ingredient can interact with other medications and cause side effects such as dangerously low blood pressure.
The researchers recommended that OTC products containing undisclosed sildenafil should be withdrawn from the market immediately due to health concerns.
The FDA does not regulate OTC male enhancement supplements.
The organization has tested many male enhancement products available to purchase online and found over 410 contained hidden prescription ingredients such as sildenafil.
Taking products that contain undisclosed ingredients may cause unintentional side effects and interact with other medications. Sildenafil belongs to a class of medications known as PDE5 inhibitors.
When a person takes a PDE5 inhibitor alongside nitrates, such as nitroglycerine, it can cause dangerously low blood pressure. Some eye conditions, such as ischemic optic neuropathy, can worsen when taking sildenafil.
FDA-approved prescription medication is available for ED.
Sildenafil received Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval in 1998. Since then, more PDE5 inhibitors, such as tadalafil (Cialis), have also received FDA approval.
PDE5 inhibitors are common drugs that are widely used in managing ED.
When a person becomes aroused, their body releases enzymes that cause the smooth muscle in the blood vessels to relax. This allows blood to flow through these vessels and into the penis, causing an erection.
When these enzymes degrade, they cause blood flow to decrease. PDE5 inhibitors block the degradation of these enzymes, enabling increased blood flow and an erection.
A person does need to experience arousal for the drugs to produce the desired effect.
Medical News Today chooses ED products that meet the following criteria:
Company reputation:MNT selects products from brands that have undergone internal vetting of medical and business standards. The brands we choose are reputable and reliable, with positive reviews and transparent business practices.
Product transparency: MNT selects products that clearly state ingredients, side effects, and recommended dosage.
Safety:MNT selects brands that require a doctor’s prescription before customers can order ED pills. This ensures that a person can safely take the medication and that the provider is responsible.
Price: MNT selects products that suit a range of budgets, including choosing brands that offer both brand-name and generic drugs.
Medical News Today follows a strict product selection and vetting process. Learn more here.
Male enhancement pills are OTC pills that people can purchase online and in-store. However, there is little evidence that these products can help ED. Rather, they can be dangerous as they often contain undisclosed prescription medication that can interact with other drugs.
FDA-approved ED treatment is a safer way to have and maintain an erection. These treatments are only available via a prescription from a healthcare professional. Several telehealth companies make accessing ED treatment safe, quick, and affordable.
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