Lamar Odom’s recent medical troubles have spurred increased attention to a problem that’s existed for a long time. Men are embarrassed to talk to their doctors about erectile dysfunction, and so they resort to over-the-counter products that promise a quick fix. Sometimes, these products work. But that’s because they often contain more than their labels indicate.
We’ll give away the punch line right now: over-the-counter erectile dysfunction supplements, also known as “herbal Viagra,” are NOT safe. We’re not alone in this view.
It’s unfortunate that it almost took the life of a former NBA star for people to start paying closer attention to this long-standing problem. For more than a decade, the FDA has been warning men to avoid these products, and we issued a warning as recently as a week before Odom fell victim to these drugs.
Multiple tests from reputable sources have shown that many of these so-called “herbal” supplements contain dangerously high doses of prescription grade drugs that are not listed on their labels, including Viagra and Cialis. These drugs cause a drop in blood pressure that can be dangerous on its own, and they can react with common medications and cause fatal complications.
Men who buy these supplements are often attracted by fact that they don’t require a prescription and cost much less than prescription medication. Misled by the deceptive packaging and claims to be “herbal” and “natural,” men expose themselves to serious health risks that could easily result in hospitalization and even death.
So how could it be that such dangerous products that are not approved by the FDA are legally sold across the nation?
Well, the caveat here is that in the U.S. supplements are not regulated in the same way as prescription drugs. Unlike prescription drugs, supplements need not undergo strict scientific testing or even prove their efficiency to the FDA. So technically, manufacturers could fill a pill with dry lawn clippings and sell it to you as 100% “herbal” sexual enhancement supplement.
People often assume that the widespread availability of these products means they are safe. It doesn’t. These products are available in so many stores because the FDA lacks the appropriate tools to prevent them from being sold. They aren’t safe, and many of us in the medical field have been trying to raise alarm bells for years.
According to a recent study by the New England Journal of Medicine, some 23,000 people end up at emergency rooms due to complications after taking dietary supplements. Of course, not all of those visits are caused by over-the-counter erectile dysfunction pills, but the point is still the same – when you take these products, you expose yourself to a whole range of health risks and no significant benefit.
If you have concerns about your sexual health, please don’t rely on these dangerous and unregulated products. Erectile dysfunction can be a symptom of a serious medical condition. It can also be treated quickly and effectively under appropriate medical supervision. Go see a specialist. We’re not scary, but the alternative sure is.