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8th April 2019

Male Enhancement Pills: The Scientific Route

Male Enhancement Pills: The Scientific Route

Many advertisements, particularly on the internet, promote ‘male enhancement pills’. These products have nothing to do with restoring a full head of hair or even developing an impressive six-pack; they’re specifically targeting men with sexual problems. Some advertisements will claim that their pills will increase penis size.

They may also claim to make you into a super-stamina lover overnight. Sadly, it’s not going to happen – well not because of the pills anyway. You may be confident that when such claims are made, they are nothing but money-making scams. No medication exists which can achieve these ends.

Why are Male Enhancement Pills Needed?

Perhaps the most widely encountered difficulty in terms of men’s sexual problems is that of achieving and sustaining an erection of the quality needed to have satisfactory intercourse. Extremely frustrating at best, this problem can sometimes cause real distress. Another very common problem is premature ejaculation, which seriously curtails the experience of lovemaking, leaving both partners unfulfilled.

But why are so many men, and women for that matter, intrigued by bogus marketing gimmicks when we know that perfectly safe and effective ED medication is available via our GP? Could it be that we find discussing problems of such an intimate nature with a doctor a bit daunting? The fact is, these problems are very much more prevalent than most people realise, and it’s not only men of more mature years who struggle. Over the past few years, there has been a significant increase in younger men with the problem and this has been found to be due to stress levels, fatigue caused by a hectic lifestyle and in some cases even the easy accessibility of porn on the internet. When watched habitually, this stream of graphic visual stimulus means that sex with a real partner lacks the excitement which the brain has come to expect in order to enable the body to do its stuff.

There are of course other reasons why problems arise, and these can apply to men of all ages.

  • Side effects of certain pharmaceutical drugs may cause ED. It’s a good idea to check with the doctor to see if an alternative medication could help
  • Psychological issues such as depression, trauma, childhood abuse can manifest themselves in sexual performance issues. If you are unsure whether your problem is caused by a psychological issue then as a rough guide, if you can achieve an erection at certain times but not during sexual activity then an emotional problem is highly probable.
  • Licensed medication may well help in cases where psychological causes are the source of the problem, but this will only ever be a sticking plaster. There’s no substitute for addressing the issues with a psychotherapist and tackling the problem at source
  • It’s very common to have occasional incidences of ED which are caused by stress, tiredness, anxiety or drinking too much alcohol. These are temporary blips and not necessarily a reason to seek medical help

Science-Backed Drugs vs Unlicensed Products

When looking for solutions it’s vital to distinguish between licensed medication prescribed as a result of an assessment by the GP and the many so-called natural remedies which are largely unproven and highly unlikely to do the trick.

Licensed drugs, which must be obtained via medical prescription, are very effective in most cases and carry only mild side effects, if any at all. Whereas buying pills online may prove unsafe as well as ineffective as their ingredients are not regulated or clinically tested.

Licensed Pharmaceutical Medication

Viagra is the most widely prescribed medicine but there are others which work in a similar way. These are tadalafil (Cialis), vardenafil (Levira) and avanafil (Spedra). It’s important to only use these medications if they have been prescribed for you by a doctor following a medical assessment or at least, failing that, from a reliable chemist with advice from the pharmacist. Don’t be tempted to buy them from anyone else, or via a website.

Your doctor will be looking for reasons why you are experiencing problems and amongst these are:

  • Side effects of certain pharmaceutical drugs may cause ED. It’s a good idea to check with the doctor to see if an alternative medication could help
  • Narrowing of blood vessels of the penis
  • High levels of cholesterol
  • Hormone problems
  • Side effects of other medication you may be taking

If you are experiencing ED on a frequent basis the doctor will check for any other underlying health issue so it’s vitally important that you make this visit.

If you would rather not go to your GP, you may prefer to visit a sexual health clinic. Many of these clinics have a ‘walk-in’ service so you don’t need an appointment.

During a medical consultation there might be certain lifestyle recommendations advised to help you alongside taking the pills:

  • Lose weight (if you are carrying more than you should)
  • Take more exercise
  • Make healthy food choices
  • Quit smoking
  • Drink less alcohol

How do Male Enhancement Pills Work?

Viagra is the trade name of the drug sildenafil which is one of a family of medicines called phosphodiesterase 5 (PDE5) inhibitors. These drugs work by increasing blood flow, so when you are sexually aroused and have taken sildenafil about four hours previously, it creates a temporary boost to the blood flow in the penis. This results in a much stronger erection.

Viagra works by increasing blood flow in the penis.


Side Effects of Taking Sildenafil (Viagra)

Many men experience no side effects at all, but some may find they have certain mild ones such as:

  • Headache
  • Feeling of nausea
  • Hot flushes
  • Indigestion
  • Blurred vision
  • Stuffy nose
  • Dizziness

There may in rare cases be certain side effects which are more serious, and these should be checked by a doctor.

  • Chest pains
  • Prolonged and painful erections (more than 4 hours)
  • Disturbed vision
  • Skin reaction such as swelling, blistering or peeling
  • Seizures

More serious side effects happen in less than 1 in 1,000 people but if any of these symptoms present themselves you should stop taking the drug and seek medical help immediately.

Over-the-Counter Pills

It is possible to buy Viagra over the counter from most pharmacies. Advice is available from the pharmacist who will mainly be concerned that you are not already taking medication which would cause a problem. Nitrate medications for chest pain for instance is a very dangerous mix with sildenafil, as is Riociguat for pulmonary hypertension and the recreational drugs known as ‘poppers’. You should also avoid mixing sildenafil with herbal remedies and supplements.

Natural Male Enhancement Pills

There has been some success in recent years with clinical trial outcomes for certain natural male enhancement pills. Controlled trials have found the following non-prescription pills to have a beneficial effect on erectile function:

Maritime pine bark contains an active plant extract which has been found in numerous trials to have a beneficial effect on erectile function. This effect is particularly enhanced when combined with L-Citrulline which is an amino acid normally made by the body when we eat quantities of foods such as legumes and nuts.

During the digestive process, L-Citrulline is converted to another amino acid called L-arginine and it is this which has been found in clinical trials to improve circulation and dilate blood vessels. An enhanced circulatory system helps combat the symptoms of erectile dysfunction by increasing the blood flow to the penis, thereby enabling stronger erections. It also helps to protect blood vessels from the oxidative damage caused by natural ageing.

GT6 is the natural supplement containing an effective combination of maritime pine bark and L-Citrulline. The studies already carried out show positive results on mild to moderate ED. [1] [2]

Tongkat Ali (Eurycoma Longifolia) - has been found to have a clinical effect on ED. Randomised controlled trials were conducted which gave an encouraging outcome. [3]

It should be noted that these products are not licensed medicines and further studies are needed before they can be unreservedly recommended.

Where to Find Help and Advice

When searching for counsellors or psychotherapists, check they are members of the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy

The Relate organisation offer free sex therapy.

Advice is also given by the Sexual Advice Association


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