Erectile Dysfunction (ED) is an inability to get or maintain an erection.
It has affected 30 million males in the US alone.
Various medications, like Sildenafil, Tadalafil, etc., are available for treating ED.
Although these ED pills successfully treat the condition, they need a valid prescription from a doctor.
For many males, ED is an issue of shame. So they avoid seeking medical help and end up buying over-the-counter ED pills.
But are these over-the-counter (OTC) ED medications safe and effective?
This article will assess the efficacy and safety of these over-the-counter ED medications.
Stick with us to know.
Table of Contents
What are over the counter ED pills?
Over-the-counter ED pills are medications you can buy without a prescription.
They are herbal supplements that are marketed as alternatives to ED drugs like Sildenafil and Tadalafil.
They contain natural ingredients and claim to treat ED by improving blood flow.
Gas station Erectile Dysfunction pills are also referred to as over-the-counter ED pills.
But along with natural ingredients, gas station ED pills may contain undeclared ingredients.
These pills are available at gas stations or convenience stores and claim to treat ED.
But no scientific evidence supports the claims.
FDA does not approve taking these over-the-counter ED pills.
Thus, their safety and efficacy cannot be guaranteed.
Talking to your doctor before buying OTC ED pills or supplements is advisable.
Top 5 OTC ED supplements
There are 5 over-the-counter ED supplements for Erectile Dysfunction.
They are used as alternatives to PDE5 inhibitors, which may help treat ED.
These include DHEA, Horny goat weed, L-arginine, Ginseng, etc.
DHEA is a hormone produced by your body’s adrenal gland.
The exact role of DHEA is not known. But it is believed to be a precursor to male sex hormones like testosterone.
Testosterone plays a role in sexual function. Low levels of testosterone can contribute to Erectile Dysfunction (ED).
Thus, as per a study, low levels of DHEA can increase the risk of ED.
According to research, DHEA declines as you age. This raises the need to use DHEA supplements.
These DHEA supplements are sometimes used for treating Erectile Dysfunction.
But the effectiveness of DHEA supplements for treating ED is not well-established.
There is less scientific evidence to support the use of DHEA for ED.
The studies that have been done have had mixed results.
Some studies have shown improvement in ED symptoms, while others have not.
If you want a promising solution for treating ED, consider trying prescription ED pills containing Sildenafil, Tadalafil, etc.
Yohimbe is marketed as a herbal supplement used to treat Erectile Dysfunction.
Yohimbine is an active component in Yohimbe. It is derived from the bark of an evergreen tree called the Pausinystalia Yohimbe.
For a long time, it has been used to improve sexual function.
As per a study, Yohimbine is an Alpha-2 adrenergic receptors antagonist.
It works by blocking the activity of these receptors, which can inhibit erections.
This blocking causes the dilation of blood vessels.
Thus, boosting blood flow to the penis to treat ED.
Research showed that it could improve orgasms and ejaculation function also.
But you should not use Yohimbe as an over-the-counter ED pill.
This is because Yohimbine is sold in a prescription medicine called Yohimbine Hydrochloride for treating ED.
Yohimbe is falsely marketed as an over-the-counter supplement.
This leads to the ignorance of its side effects, including:
- Increased heart rate
Also, it interacts with antidepressants, leading to dangerous drug-drug interactions.
So, it is advisable not to use Yohimbe as an OTC supplement. Rather consult a doctor to determine whether you should use it or not.
L-arginine is an amino acid available as a natural substitute for Viagra.
It is helpful for improving circulation.
Your body converts L-arginine into a chemical called Nitric Oxide (NO).
NO helps relax the penile blood vessels and improve blood flow to the penis.
As per Mayoclinic, L-arginine may be effective in improving ED symptoms.
Many studies have also shown that it enhances the working of prescription-based ED pills.
- As per a study, combining L-arginine with Sildenafil yielded better results than Sildenafil alone.
- As per ScienceDirect, L-arginine combined with Yohimbine Hydrochloride treated mild to moderate ED.
- One research suggested that L-arginine with Tadalafil could improve testosterone levels.
But these studies are not enough to support its use for ED treatment.
It is crucial to note that L-arginine may interact with blood pressure medicines.
This may have potential side effects, like diarrhea, nausea, and allergic reactions.
So, talking to your doctor if you’re considering taking L-arginine for ED is crucial.
Ginseng is a libido booster. It increases your sexual desire.
Thus, claiming to improve ED symptoms if low sex drive is the underlying cause.
In a study, Ginseng was effective in treating ED.
But some more research is necessary to draw exact conclusions
Horny Goat Weed
Horny Goat Weed is a supplement available over-the-counter for treating ED.
It works in the same way as Viagra (Sildenafil).
Icariin is the active component in Horny Goat Weed.
As per studies, Icariin is a PDE5 inhibitor. Moreover, it contains aphrodisiac properties that stimulate sexual desire.
Icariin suppresses the PDE5 enzymes’ activity.
This inhibition restores cGMP levels, which dilates penile blood vessels.
As a result, it increases blood flow to the penis. Thus, helping in inducing or maintaining a hard erection.
Even though it is a natural product, it has adverse effects. These include dizziness, stomach discomfort, etc.
Consultation with a doctor before using Horny Goat Weed is advisable.
Risks of over-the-counter ED pills
Owing to the risk factor, FDA does not recommend taking any OTC supplements for treating ED.
The UCF also states that it cannot guarantee its safety and efficacy.
These over-the-counter pills do not come under the regulation of the FDA.
Thus, the amounts and types of ingredients in them may vary.
Some over-the-counter ED pills, like gas station pills, contain hidden components. This can be hazardous for your health.
These hidden ingredients include PDE5 inhibitors like Sildenafil, Tadalafil, etc.
They are all prescription medications for ED. You should not use them without a doctor’s recommendation.
Due to this, some products may initially be effective. But they may also cause dangerous adverse effects.
These ingredients are either not listed on the label or might not have the amount that is written on the label.
They may also contain multiple PDE5 inhibitors at once, which is risky.
Thus, causing serious side effects and posing dangers to health.
Over-the-counter ED pills may cause adverse effects due to their hidden ingredients.
As the ingredients are unknown, checking for drug interactions beforehand is impossible.
So they may interact with other drugs and conditions.
Taking an OTC pill containing a PDE5 inhibitor can cause headaches, etc.
Due to the unrestricted amounts of PDE5 inhibitors found in OTC pills, they can exacerbate the negative effects.
These may result in vision problems, heart palpitations, and Priapism.
What are the alternatives to OTC ED pills
Rather than buying over-the-counter ED pills, consult your doctor to get the best medicine.
The doctors may suggest taking prescription-based ED medicines.
These include oral ED pills like Sildenafil, Tadalafil, or Vardenafil.
They are the PDE5 inhibitors that work by improving penile blood flow.
Oral ED pills are the first-line treatment for Erectile Dysfunction.
Other ED treatments, like vacuum pumps, etc., may be useful if these pills do not work for you.
Recommended Read- Reviving Intimacy: Proven Erectile Dysfunction Treatment
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you get Erectile Dysfunction pills over the counter?
No, you cannot get Erectile Dysfunction pills like Sildenafil, etc., over the counter. You must get a valid prescription from a licensed doctor to access ED pills. This is to ensure your safety. These ED pills interact with other medicines and can cause side effects.
Is there an over-the-counter Viagra?
Yes, there are many over-the-counter Viagra substitutes available. They are herbal supplements that contain natural ingredients. These include L-arginine, Ginseng, DHEA, Yohimbe, and Horny Goat Weed. But they are not as effective and safe as Viagra (Sildenafil) medication.
What is the best over-the-counter pill for ED?
There is no best over-the-counter pill for Erectile Dysfunction. In fact, FDA warns people not to use these OTC pills as they may contain hidden ingredients. This can exacerbate adverse effects and pose dangers to health. Consult your doctor for prescription ED medicines like Sildenafil, Tadalafil, and Vardenafil.