Health & wellness

Daily Dose

Dangers of sexual enhancement supplements

Viagra, a drug that treats erectile dysfunction, is one of the most counterfeited drugs in the world. Men can order the little blue pill online without a prescription via a quick Internet search and credit card payment. They can also order “all-natural” sexual enhancement alternatives such as Rock Hard for Men or Lightning Rod. But what are they really getting?

It could be Viagra or its generic version, sildenafil, which dilates blood vessels and helps increase blood flow into the penis during sexual stimulation. Or it might contain tainted chemicals or other prescription drugs.

Men who opt to buy fake Viagra or other sexual enhancement supplements have no idea what they’re actually taking because the product labels don’t reflect the true ingredients, according to a commentary published last week in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine.

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“These supplements might contain the active ingredients found in prescription erectile dysfunction medications — though made illegally without any quality control — or they might contain one of more than 45 chemical agents that have never been tested in humans,” said Dr. Pieter Cohen, an internist at Cambridge Health Alliance and assistant professor at Harvard Medical School, who coauthored the commentary. “The consumer has become a guinea pig.”