Is it possible to treat erectile dysfunction with OTC?
Compared to the prescription drugs, over-the-counter treatments (OTC) are sometimes considered to be less effective. Luckily for men with erectile dysfunction over-the-counter erectile dysfunction drugs still may help. As it was found by National Associations related, almost 30 million Americans suffer from ED. Sexual disorders concern almost even young male, not to mention those who are over their 70s. What drugs are available over-the-counter for treatment of the erectile dysfunction?
Types of OTC for ED
In many countries OTC medications are often sold in supermarkets, cash&carry stores or even petroleum stations. In opposite, prescripted drugs are really passed to the customers over a counter from the pharmacist or physician. Trade rules on where these medications can be sold and does a customer need a prescription for them vary in different countries. In USA and Europe market offers include such over-the-counter medications for sexual dysfunction as:
- oral pills and other drugs
- injectable medications
- medical software and equipment
- penile prosthesis
- plastic surgery
As it was proved by the specialists of Mayo Clinic the most effective prescription treatments are tadalafil, sildenafil (known as «Viagra») and vardenafil (e.g. Staxyn). Although some of OTC sexua dysfunction medications are not less effective.
Over-the-counter erectile dysfunction medications
DHEA is the steroid hormone, which circulates in excess supply in human body. It is produced by the gonads, the brain and adrenal glands and plays an intermediate role in the production of the androgen and estrogen.
A man may increase the level of this hormone eating enough soy products or yams, although natural DHEA is produced only in human body. Dehydroepiandrosterone participates in testosterone production. As it has a significant impact on muscular growth, it is used sometimes in a sport medicine for strength performance. And, what is interesting, even in low doses it shows effectiveness.
The effectiveness of DHEA as sexual disorder treatment is proved by National Institutes of Health and other organizations. However, doctors remind that so called “natural” DHEA in advertised treatments or super foods is just a marketing ploy. Our body can’t produce dehydroepiandrosterone from outer sources, thus any product that claims opposite might be insecure. By the way, DHEA is useful not only for men, but also for women with low libido and elderly people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. Some vascular disorders are also associated with low serum levels of DHEA.
The synthesis of proteins demands for some essential amino-acids. One of them is L-arginine, which participates in this process. With dependence to the individual health l-arginine is usually classified as a semiessential amino acid. (Cause, it is produced enough in human body). However, it is considered that most men do not need to supplement it. This amino acid may be found in many animal sources, including dairy products, pork, beef, and seafood. Such plants as pecans, walnuts, almonds, coconut, Brazil nuts, cooked soybeans, wheat germ, granola and others also have L-arginine.
Among positive sequences there are such effects as healing time reducing and decreasing of a blood pressure. Though, for men improving of reproductive function is the most desirable result. L-arginine stimulates blood circulation and increases blood pressure in penis that is useful for erectile dysfunction. However, there are some side effects, e.g. sickness and crump. In combination with yohimbine and glutamate L-arginine also gives good results. However, it is not obvious, what is the role of L-arginine itself. As an α-amino acid it is proved successful for treating metabolic alkalosis and monitoring hormone levels. Although, American Food and Drug Administration still need more surveys to approve ability to use L-arginine as a sexual dysfunction treatment.
This Chinese herb is well known for its healing effects. Ginseng is believed to treat sexual disorders and penile dysfunction. Some researchers proved this hypothesis with special examinations. E.g. specialists of the Mayo Clinic found that ginseng with no many side effects is quite safe, at least in the short term, for taking it with OTC. Using of ginseng as an aphrodisiac was reported in a traditional medicine on numerous occasions. Nowadays it is estimated that ginseng sales surpassed 2.1 billion dollars (mainly due to Korean and Chinese products).
Traditionally used as a veterinary drug (because of some indole alkaloids) yohimbine was then studied for a possible including in some sexual dysfunction OTC medications. Experts of National Institutes of Health propose that yohimbine might be effective in sexual dysfunction treatment. Although, experts from NCCIH, the Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, which is the Federal Government’s institute for research on the health care systems, claim, that the effectiveness of yohimbe in treating sexual dysfunction is not clear. Besides, there are a lot of negative side effects of this alkaloid on vascular system and blood pressure.
The problem concerns not only yohimbine. Trade regulations and status of over-the-counter drugs market is widely disputed in USA and Europe. Food and Drug Administration of USA gives warning on using OTC drugs, especially if they are still not proved as «human-friendly» and safe. As it was claimed by the Mayo Clinic specialists some herbal drugs, which were tested on animals, are not definitely effective for human males (e.g. epimedium). Furthermore, there are a lot of untrustworthy ingredients in OTC medications.
Risks and Warnings by Food and Drug Administration and other experts
Advisability of using OTC drugs for treatment of sexual dysfunction is widely discussed in the a community. The Federal Drug Administration experts recently announced a list of 29 over-the-counter “dietary” supplements to be avoided. Many of them contain risky ingredients and are not approved for sale. Consumer reports also prevented readers from buying some dietary supplements. A list of dangerous products included popular bitter orange and yohimbe.
Even effective OTC drugs, according to FDA, may not be safe for health. Some hidden ingredients in dietary products are not listed on the tag, but might be dangerous for consumers. E.g. colloidal silver which is often used in treating psoriasis may cause neurological problems and skin discoloration. Yohimbe may significantly increase heart rate or lower the blood pressure to the extreme point. The Federal Drug Administration warned about risks associated with yohimbe in 1993, but possible dangers still need to be investigated.
What side effects can a man experience from OTC treatment?
Unwanted effects hidden in “secret” ingredients may cause vascular disorders and other harmful consequences. In combination with prescripted erectile dysfunction treatment OTC can provoke harmful reactions. Effects for drugs taken for other diseases are similar. E.g. sildenafil in combination with nitrates or alpha-blockers as hidden ingredients of OTC can cause drops in blood pressure.
Extremely high lungs pressure is sometimes treated with sildenafil or vardenafil, traditionally prescribed sexual disorder medications. Surveys conducted show that in combination with nitrates these treatments cause real problems with health. There are some OTC treatments, which are considered to be less harmful then prescripted drugs. Anyway the question of using them in therapy should be consulted with a doctor.