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A new report from the Journal of Sexual Medicine reports that over the counter (OTC) male enhancement supplements don't work, and worse, may actually harm men's health.
Many men suffer from erectile dysfunction symptoms. It's thought that at least 1 in 5 men experience problems to some extent. It's important to be aware of the risks of so-called herbal Viagra, and other supplements claiming to help erectile dysfunction and libido problems, because sales of these potentially unsafe supplements are growing - they doubled in the US from 1999 to 2007.
The report concluded that natural male enhancement supplements, sold online and OTC, raise several concerns.
According to the report, some products sold as 'natural' included traces of PDE5Is which is a medication used in prescription medications such as Viagra. PDE5Is require a prescription because using them without a doctor's advice is risky to health. Men with heart disease or those taking medication containing nitrates risk a dangerous drop in blood pressure. Those with liver and kidney disease are also at risk.
Researchers claim that one study showed 81% of OTC supplements bought in Asia and the US included PDE5Is.
Although 'natural ingredients' sounds safe, there are side effects associated with them.
For example, Arginine features in many men's health supplements but can cause drops in blood pressure. Maca, a vegetable supplement, is reported to have caused blood pressure drops, episodes of toxicity and a mild increase in liver enzymes.
Yohimbine is well-known and may have some erectile benefits, but it can also cause headaches, sweating, insomnia and hypertension. All potentially dangerous side effects in men not suited to the supplement.
Indeed, any natural ingredient may interfere with a medication, as well as creating its own unwanted side effects.
Men may be wasting their money on supplements with no proven effects.
For example the Tribulus plant lacks any evidence of positive erectile dysfunction treatment, and the same for zinc and ginkgo biloba, but they are common ingredients in male enhancement supplements. Vinod Nargund, a consultant urologist on Harley Street, believes that 'herbal Viagra does not improve the quality of erection.'
Most enhancement supplements are classed as food rather than drugs, and are therefore subject only to the manufacturers testing procedures. Pharmaceutical drugs undergo rigorous testing, but this doesn't apply to herbal remedies.
The New York attorney general has recently targeted four retailers for selling misleading dietary supplements, indicating that male enhancement supplements just aren't worth the risk.
Seema Patel, Director of Pfizer UK, says 'In order to access genuine erectile dysfunction treatment that is licensed and scientifically proven, we always recommend that patients visit a qualified and registered health care professional."
To keep yourself safe erectile dysfunction medication should be prescribed by your GP or a registered online pharmacy that dispenses prescriptions. It's just not worth wasting your money on products that don't work, let alone harming your health.