Sexual Health Q&A

Is it safe to use herbal supplements and over-the-counter products to treat erectile dysfunction?

Certain herbs may help, but have side effects. For example, ginseng has been used in Chinese medicine for centuries and some studies suggest that it’s helpful for ED. However, ginseng can also decrease blood sugar levels and may not be right for men with diabetes. Sometimes it’s difficult to know how an herb will function or how it might interact with other medications.

Some companies claim that their “natural” sexual enhancement formulas work just as well as prescription drugs. However, the active ingredient(s) in these products aren’t always disclosed. Sometimes the active ingredient is the same as, or similar to, the active ingredient in the prescription drugs. This can be dangerous because some men, such as those who take nitrate drugs, should never use ED drugs. If the same ingredient is present in the “natural” formula, but not disclosed, men can be unaware that they’re taking something that can harm them.

Again, men should always check with their doctors before taking any herbal supplement or sexual-enhancement product.