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Male enhancement pills are often marketed as dietary supplements. But they may contain hidden ingredients that cause more harm than good

Male enhancement pills are often marketed as dietary supplements, claiming to boost sexual performance and increase the duration of an erection. However, the U.S. FDA advises consumers to avoid purchasing over-the-counter male enhancement pills, since these may contain hidden ingredients that can cause more harm than good.

Most male enhancement pills are made up of herbal ingredients that are not supported by quality research, along with drugs such as tadalafil, sildenafil, or vardenafil. The combination may be dangerous for both long- and short-term use. Drugs found in these pills should only be taken under the supervision of a medical professional. 

If you decide to use these pills, make sure the seller is regulated and that the pills have been approved by appropriate organizations. Ideally, you should also consult your doctor before using these products.

What are safer alternatives to herbal male enhancement pills?

If you’re looking to enhance your sexual performance, there are a few licensed treatments available. For many men, these medications provide an effective and discreet way of enhancing sexual activity by increasing blood flow to the penis:

The following are some of the more commonly used male enhancement drugs.

Depending on the cause of your symptoms, medications available include:

  • To help your erection last longer: If you are unable to obtain or maintain an erection, Viagra, sildenafil citrate, Levitra, and Cialis are some of the approved treatments that may help.
  • To reduce the frequency of premature ejaculation: If you experience premature ejaculation, antidepressants such as Lexapro, Paxil, or Priligy, and anesthetic creams such as EMLA may help.
  • To increase stamina in bed: If you find yourself getting tired too quickly during sex, consult your doctor to rule out any underlying causes. Tiredness can be caused by various factors such as dehydration and deficiencies in salt, iron, vitamin D, B12, or hemoglobin.

These medications, however, are not appropriate for everyone, especially if you have heart problems, suffer from low blood pressure, or are taking nitrates. Talk to your doctor for best or alternative therapies.

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Erectile Dysfunction (ED) Causes and Treatment See Slideshow

What are the ingredients in herbal male enhancement pills?

As previously stated, there is no medical evidence to support the claims made by many herbal medications and supplements. Most of these claims are not backed by large-scale research. Ingredients that are being studied regarding their effectiveness in boosting male libido include:

  • Tribulus terrestris: Some evidence shows that Tribulus terrestris improves sexual performance, while also increasing the time between ejaculations. However, more studies are needed.
  • L-arginine: L-arginine is an essential amino acid that produces nitric oxide. Because nitric oxide can widen the blood arteries around the penile tissues, it is believed to induce a firmer erection.
  • Zinc: Although zinc will not necessarily increase penis size, it may help improve the health of your sperm. 
  • Withania somnifera or Ashwagandha: This plant boosts nitric oxide synthase activity. As a result, more blood flows to the penis, causing it to grow in size. This plant may be effective in combating fatigue, allowing erections to last for a longer duration. It can also improve sexual function in general.
  • Curculigo orchioides: Clinical trials show that Curculigo orchioides can increase erections and overall sexual performance.
  • Panax ginseng: This is a powerful antioxidant that aids in the reduction of inflammation. It has traditionally been used to treat erectile dysfunction and is believed to be an aphrodisiac.
  • Muira pauma (Ptychopetalum olacoides): This plant is used to treat sexual dysfunction and is also believed to be an aphrodisiac.
  • Maca root: Maca root may help stimulate libido, while also improving stamina and endurance. It's been used for a long time to treat erectile dysfunction.
  • Saw palmetto (Serenoa repens): Saw palmetto inhibits enzymes that can alter testosterone production. It also protects the male reproductive organs, thereby potentially enhancing sexual function.

Before taking any herbal medication or supplement, talk to your doctor. You may also want to consider alternative methods to improve your sex life. Making changes to your lifestyle, getting counseling or therapy, or talking things through with your partner may result in significant improvements without the need for pills.

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Medically Reviewed on 9/3/2021
References
https://www.fda.gov/drugs/medication-health-fraud/tainted-sexual-enhancement-products

Male Enhancement: Is It Worth a Try? https://www.webmd.com/men/features/male-enhancement-is-it-worth-try

Erectile Dysfunction/Sexual Enhancement: https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/erectile-dysfunctionsexual-enhancement

Medical therapy for premature ejaculation: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3199591/