Having a healthy sex life is an important part of overall well-being, but at some point in their life, many people with penises find it difficult to achieve or maintain an erection long enough to have satisfying sex.

This condition, known as erectile dysfunction (ED), can be frustrating and embarrassing, which can make over-the-counter (OTC) ED supplements an attractive option.

Unlike prescription ED pills like Viagra (sildenafil), which can be expensive and require a visit to your health care provider, over the counter ED pills are generally more affordable and readily available at your local drugstore or over the counter. line.

These pills may be promoted for their effectiveness in enhancing sexual performance, but they are often unproven, untested, unregulated, and can lead to unwanted side effects.

In this article, we’ll go over the types of over-the-counter erectile dysfunction pills, along with their risks and alternative treatment options.

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Over-the-counter medications

Over-the-counter drugs have become popular treatments for erectile dysfunction, despite unproven claims of improved sexual performance.

Some products, like the popular men’s nutritional supplement Extenze, contain sildenafil, the active ingredient in Viagra. This undeclared ingredient can interact with the nitrates found in some prescription drugs, such as the vasodilator nitroglycerin, and drop blood pressure to dangerous levels.

As a result, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not recommend this supplement, especially for diabetic and hypertensive patients who take nitrates to regulate their blood pressure.

The following over-the-counter dietary supplements and natural remedies have not been well studied, but may play a role in the treatment of erectile dysfunction and impotence:

  • L-arginine: L-arginine is an amino acid, a building block of protein, found naturally in food. It stimulates the body’s production of nitric oxide, a compound that helps dilate blood vessels. In theory, opening the blood vessels should increase blood flow to the penis, facilitating an erection, but the study’s findings are mixed. However, some companies falsely advertise its effectiveness. L-arginine, sometimes sold under the brand name Hombron, should never be taken with Viagra as it can cause a large and dangerous drop in blood pressure. More research is needed to study its safety and effectiveness.
  • Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA): Some studies suggest that DHEA supplements, which help create sex hormones like testosterone and estrogen, might help with erectile dysfunction, but others have found no evidence of their benefit.
  • Ginkgo: Ginkgo biloba can increase blood flow to the penis, which may improve sexual desire and fight erectile dysfunction. However, the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) says there is no strong evidence that ginkgo is beneficial for any health problem. Ginkgo can also cause a host of side effects, including headache, dizziness, upset stomach, palpitations, and constipation. Ginkgo should never be taken with Coumadin (warfarin), a blood thinner or if you have a bleeding disorder.
  • Ginseng: Ginseng, or Panax ginseng, can promote relaxation of smooth muscles in the body, helping to produce an erection, but its main side effect is insomnia, which increases the risk of erectile dysfunction. More research needs to be done to clarify its overall effectiveness.
  • Yohimbine: The NCCIH does not endorse yohimbine, which is a traditional aphrodisiac for the treatment of erectile dysfunction. Yohimbine can have serious side effects, including heart attack and seizures.
  • Epimedium grandiflorum: Epimedium grandiflorum, also known as horny goat weed, barenwort, and bishop’s hat, is a traditional remedy for increasing fertility, but there is not enough evidence to support its use for erectile dysfunction.

It should be noted that none of the over the counter supplements listed above are FDA approved for erectile dysfunction, but some studies suggest that they may be helpful in the treatment of erectile dysfunction. These substances should never replace standard treatments. You should also consult your health care provider before trying a supplement.


Over-the-counter medications should not be combined with standard ED medications. Pills purchased in stores are not regulated and have not been studied for their effectiveness or safety. Additionally, some manufacturers misrepresent or misrepresent the ingredients in their products. In fact, the FDA has found that nearly 300 products marketed for erectile dysfunction contain excessively high doses or undisclosed ingredients.

In testing of consumer products, many over-the-counter supplements have been found to contain illegal amounts of prescription drugs, including Viagra, Cialis, Levitra, and Stendra. The ingredients in these supplements are not subject to quality control and may differ from pill to pill, making them particularly dangerous.

These unregulated supplements can also interact with other medications you are taking, causing your blood pressure to drop dangerously. For example, L-arginine should never be taken with nitrates or alpha blockers, as the combination can lead to a sudden drop in blood pressure. Therefore, you should never start, replace or stop any medicine without first talking to a healthcare professional.

A word from Verywell

As we age, our bodies go through changes such as decreased testosterone production, which can lead to hormonal imbalances that affect erections. Other conditions like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity, and work-related stress make the problem even worse.

Erectile dysfunction can also be caused by an underlying psychiatric or physical problem, such as depression, anxiety, high blood pressure or high cholesterol medications, thyroid problems, or an enlarged prostate / surgery. prostate. Additionally, side effects such as incontinence can interfere with sex and the ability to maintain an erection. The list is endless.

If you are one of the millions of people who have tried over-the-counter remedies for erectile dysfunction without success, it may be time to see a healthcare professional or specialist for an evaluation. A urologist, for example, can help you identify the root cause of your erectile dysfunction, create a safe and effective treatment plan, and explain why some over-the-counter treatments may not be as effective as they seem.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Where can I buy over-the-counter erectile dysfunction pills?

    Over-the-counter pills can be found at big box stores and drugstores like Walmart, Walgreens, and Target, as well as online.

  • Which OTC Erectile Dysfunction Pills Work With Blood Pressure Pills?

    Little research has been done to assess the safety and effectiveness of over-the-counter erectile dysfunction pills, so you should contact your health care provider before starting one, especially if you have high blood pressure or hypotension.