Can Erectile Dysfunction (ED) be treated with Over-the-counter (OTC) treatments?
Erectile dysfunction (ED) is a world wide phenomenon affecting millions of men all over. Over thirty million men suffer from ED in the US itself. Those men who are over seventy have higher chances of experiencing ED; however this does not rule out men in their twenties experiencing the same.
However, there is no cause for panic as over-the-counter (OTC) treatments are available which can help cure the condition.
A number of options in the treatment and management of ED are available today.
- Oral medications
- Penile implants
- Injectable or suppository drugs
- Medical devices
Most specialists lists the following three prescription based medications as being the most effective in the treatment of ED. These are;
- Cialis or tadalafil
- Viagra or sildenafil
- Levitra or vardenafil
Four herbal remedies have shown positive results in clinical studies performed on them. These are given below.
DHEA (dihydroepiandrosterone), which naturally occurs in some yams and soy products, has shown positive results in low doses in the treatment of ED, and has been proven safe to use. Incidentally, DHEA helps build muscular strength and can also be used to treat Alzheimer’s. The National Institute of Health’s (NIH) website has also stated that DHEA is “possibly effective” for treating ED.
Aside from helping men with ED, DHEA also helps in boosting libido in women. However, one needs to be careful with products that supposedly contain “natural” DHEA. This is because the human body is not capable of producing DHEA naturally just by consuming sources that contain it. Hence, claims made by any product that it is capable of providing the body with a “natural” form of DHEA are untrue.
L-arginine is believed to cure ED by causing an improved flow of blood to the penis. Yet, it could also cause a few side effects such as nausea and mild cramping.
L-arginine is often used in combination with other ED medications such as yohimbine and glutamate in experiments that support its effectiveness as a cure for ED. This is why the issue of the true efficacy of L-arginine in the treatment of ED lacks clarity. L-arginine can be used successfully in the testing of hormone levels as also in the treatment of individuals who have metabolic alkalosis. Nevertheless, on its efficacy in treating ED, the research needs to be more extensive before it is approved by the US FDA (Food and Drug Administration).
The NIH’s stand on Yohimbe that is also known under the name of its primary component yohimbine is that it could be “possibly effective” for ED. However, the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine puts forward a contrary view on the issue and states that Yohimbe’s efficacy in treating ED is unknown. Moreover, Yohimbe is known to have many side effects a few of which are causing an increase in the heart rate and hypertension.
The research on the efficacy of ginseng to cure ED is limited in nature. It is, however, noted that ginseng did shown a few favorable results in studies on its affects on humans and appeared “generally safe” when its use was short term.
The FDA has warned that such supplements, not being prescription medication, have yet to prove their efficacy and safety. Besides, the quantity of the active components in such products tends to be inconsistent and unreliable.
WARNINGS AND RISKS
FDA Warnings and Risks Factors
Many a times, OTC drugs for the treatment of ED have been at the center of controversy within the medical fraternity. The FDA has issued warnings against the “hidden risks” of supplements meant to cure ED that are sold online. It published a list of twenty nine such online OTC products, commonly known as “dietary supplements,” that were to be avoided. These are products that haven’t received the FDA’s approval for sale, and quite a number of them contain components that are hazardous.
A few OTC drugs meant for ED could help with the condition but are unsafe, and the FDA warns against their use. A few of the dietary supplements that are sold online could also contain components that are not listed on their labels, and these components could prove hazardous for some.
Potentially Dangerous Side Effects
OTC treatments that contain components not listed on their labels could cause dangerous side effects for some users. The interaction of these unlisted components with some other drugs being taken for ED could cause an adverse reaction on the health of the user, thus making such supplements unsafe. The components of such OTC medication could also be unsafe when taken along with medication for other health problems too. For example, taking an OTC drug that has sildenafil as one of its components and taking another drug containing nitrates, could cause a drop in blood pressure to dangerously low levels.
Medications for ED containing sildenafil, tadalafil and vardenafil are often utilized in treating pulmonary hypertension. Research has shown that the combination of ED medication containing these drugs along with alpha-blockers or nitrates could cause side effects.
Always talk to a doctor before you try out an OTC medication for ED, and ensure that any natural/herbal dietary supplement that you intend to try out has received the requisite approvals or has at least been tested by an agency that can be trusted such as the FDA or the NIH. Some of these alternative treatment methods could help in resolving ED issues, however, you should decide on one only after proper research and medical. Else, you may not get the results that you were looking for.