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Are there over the counter drugs for sexual dysfunction?

Bonnie Lynn Wright, PhD
Geriatrics Nursing

There are many OTC drugs available to the consumer in retail stores, on TV, on the internet, etc. They claim to cure a variety of ills, including sexual dysfunction. Whether those claims are real or not can be uncertain. 

Reputable pharmaceutical companies have Research and Development divisions that explore the uses and side effects, etc. of all their products so that the consumer knows what they are getting. They publish this work so that everybody has access to the information. Their products are submitted for scrutiny by the FDA that further tests them for consumer safety. Examples of these products are Advil, Centrum, Benelyn, etc. (Mentioning these products is not stating an endorsement of any kind. Just off-the-top-of-my-head names of products you can get off the shelf in any Pharmacy.)

Products can also be marketed without going through testing and scrutiny depending on what they contain. They may qualify as 'food' rather than medicine, for example. Such products give the consumer less opportunity to research well designed studies to assure themselves that the product is safe and will do what it claims to be able to do. It may perform as advertised but then again, it may not.

Bottom line, if the product you are intrigued with has no studies done on it by independent researchers or a reputable pharmaceutical company, you are going on faith more than science. 

  • Talk to your own health care provider before purchasing the product to make sure it won't interfere with other medications you may already be taking.
  • Talk to a pharmacist to get their opinion. They may have access to more studies as a professional and give you a better informed perspective.
  • If you are living on a very tight budget, think very careful before spending your scarce resources on an unproven product.   
Susanne Quallich
Advanced Practice Nursing

While there are many over-the-counter (OTC) products that may and can be successful, if you find you are contemplating trying one of these, your best option is to visit a healthcare provider for a complete physical examination. Sexual function difficulties can indicate other serious medical conditions, such as elevated cholesterol, diabetes, depression and hormone issues.

Another significant issue with OTC products is their potential for interaction with mediations that you may already be taking. Since these product do not undergo rigorous testing, there is a potential for interaction with prescription medications.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.