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The side effects of sexual enhancement supplements

Last updated on: August 18, 2011 08:13 IST

The side effects of sexual enhancement supplements

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Dr Swapan Ghosh, Lifemojo.com

Note: Our intent here is to provide good and clean content on sexual health. We want to resolve all the mis-conceptions and curiosities about this subject. If you feel uncomfortable because of any article in this section, please let us know.

Your inbox probably gets at least five of them daily -- advertisements by manufacturers of sexual supplements that promise unimaginable miracles and of course prolonged ecstasy. And there are several people who do fall for these very tall claims. After all, who can say no to a great sex life?

But before you actually start popping pills indiscriminately do beware. Not only is the efficacy of these supplements in doubt, they could actually have dangerous consequences.

Most of them are sold as over the counter products or can be bought on the net. Since these are not regulated, people do not really know what the pharmacological composition of these so called sexual enhancers is.

It is also highly debatable if any of the sexual enhancement supplements have gone through tests and studies for safety, drug reactions and effectiveness. Even your doctor will not be able to advise you on whether these supplements are safe for consumption because nobody knows what the actual ingredients are.

LifeMojo is one of the most trusted source of information about good health and wellness. To those who want to manage their health themselves, LifeMojo provides necessary information, tips, tracking tools and support to help them stay informed and motivated.


Photographs: Rediff Archives
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How safe are sexual enhancement supplements?

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Critics of these supplements claim that they contain anything from hormones to dangerous chemicals. Even those that claim to be natural can be dangerous.

For example, some supplements use yohimbe. This is an alkaloid that is obtained from the bark of a tree. It is supposed to help increase blood circulation.

Sounds safe and natural? Well, the only problem is that this ingredient increases blood circulation all over the body, which can be extremely dangerous for men with heart conditions.



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How safe are sexual enhancement supplements?

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One of the main side effects of these supplements is the drug interactions. The ingredients used in these can interact with medication that you may be taking for your health problems.

This could trigger off a reaction that can prove critical to your health. So do be careful.



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How safe are sexual enhancement supplements?

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There have been reported instances of problems even when prescription drugs like Viagra are used.

There are also various spin-offs on such prescription drugs. Be careful about using them, because the spinoffs may not have gone through the same levels of testing.



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How safe are sexual enhancement supplements?

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Herbal supplements are loud in their claims of being safe and completely natural. But there is definitely a question mark over these claims.

Very often they cause an extremely serious side effect called priapism. Priapism is a persistent and painful erection that can last for hours. It might require a surgical intervention to correct it and you might be left with the problem of erectile dysfunction.



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How safe are sexual enhancement supplements?

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An FDA study conducted in 2006 analyzed 17 dietary supplements that claimed to cure erectile dysfunction and enhance sexual performance.

The FDA stated that some of these contained harmful ingredients like sildenafil and vardenafil.



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How safe are sexual enhancement supplements?

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One of the major scandals relating to sexual enhancement supplements was that concerning Enzyte. The manufacturer of this supplement claimed that it increased the length of the penis as well cured erectile dysfunction.

It contained a range of ingredients including horny goat weed, maca root, Swedish flower pollen, pine bark, ginseng root and much more.

There were nearly 3,700 complaints by enraged consumers of the product. The company finally arrived at a $2.5 million settlement with its customers for making unsubstantiated claims.



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How safe are sexual enhancement supplements?

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Yet another problem with sexual enhancement supplements is that the quality of the research is often pathetic. The flaws in the methodology makes the conclusions suspect.

For example, a research conducted on the efficiency of KyoGreen powder for treating sexual dysfunction reported positive results. However, it did not use a control group that was given placebos for comparison purposes.



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How safe are sexual enhancement supplements?

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The efficiency of the sexual supplement enhancements can be judged by a 2002 evaluation conducted by ConsumerLab.com. The evaluation checked out the efficiency of 22 products that contained popular ingredients normally used in such supplements.

These ingredients included L-arginine, yohimbe and epimedium.  Only nine of the 22 products actually passed the ConsumerLab.com evaluation.  Some of them even failed to meet FDA labeling requirement.

Given that so much independent research shows that sexual supplements can prove to be dangerous, one must be extremely careful about using them.

Always consult your doctor before you start off on any such supplements.

And you should always consider whether it might not be safer to use prescription drugs recommended by your doctor for any sexual problems that you might have.



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