Male Enhancement Supplements: What Are They?

US Regulations define that dietary supplements are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent diseases. This does not mean that these supplements have no effect, it mainly implies that they are not required to prove efficacy, safety, or quality as with medications.

Key takeaways:

The onus is then on you as the customer to ensure that the supplements you are taking are safe and effective.

Commonly used male enhancement supplements

Panax ginseng

Panax ginseng is one of the most commonly used aphrodisiacs worldwide and has been used for over 5000 years. The root of this plant includes more than 35 active botanical chemicals termed ginsenosides, which have been shown to have various effects such as anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, or anti-apoptotic (preventing cell death). Furthermore, a meta-analysis (a study combining the available scientific research) indicated that ginseng improved sexual performance when compared with placebo, through increasing nitric oxide from the cavernous tissue, leading to “enhanced” erections.

Butea superba

Butea Superba is a Thailand-native herb and has been shown to induce erections in various studies. Furthermore, it was also shown to possibly prevent ED development in the first place. However, this herb should only be consumed in limited quantities as it can be toxic and there have been cases of hyperandrogenemia (excess levels of testosterone) in users as Butea Superba contains phytoestrogens, i.e., plant-derived substances that act as androgens in the human body.

Lepidium meyenii

Lepidium meyenii, also known as Maca, is a root that has been traditionally used as an aphrodisiac. Dried Maca has been shown to increase seminal volume as well as sperm count and motility in different studies but did not affect sex hormone levels. Of note, Maca was also shown to be tied to the subjective perception of its benefits by patients suffering from Erectile Dysfunction.

Corynanthe Yohimbe

Perhaps one of the well-known male enhancement supplements, Corynanthe Yohimbe contains Yohimbine, which has historically actually been used as a medication to manage psychogenic erectile dysfunction, as it blocks receptors that help with the fight-or-flight response leading to a decreased inhibition of erection. However, yohimbine has various side effects, such as GI distress and hypertension, and is no longer used to treat ED.


Epimedium or barrenwort is a plant from China and most species contain icariin, which has been shown to act similar to Sildenafil (Viagra) in that it inhibits Phosphodiesterase type 5 leading to erectogenic potential.


Arginine is an amino acid that takes an active role in the Nitric Oxide pathways that are key for proper erectile function. Several studies have demonstrated the positive effects of Arginine supplements on Erectile Dysfunction, particularly when combined with Yohimbine, as well as the positive effects of Citrulline and Arginine precursor.


L-carnitine is an essential cofactor in the human body assisting energy production in cells that can be synthesized in the human body. Several studies have shown sperm and seminal fluid improvements by L-carnitine, however, high doses may lead to cell damage and increased blood calcium levels.


Semenax, possibly one of the well better-known male enhancement supplements, contains 18 ingredients listed on their supplement facts label. Some ingredients such as Maca, L-Carnitine, and Butea Superba may enhance male sexual function however, others such as Zinc have been shown to affect sexual health in cases of deficiency, which would not be expected while on a traditional American diet and is typically encountered in poor children in resource-limited countries.

Safety, risks, and usage of male enhancement supplements

Male enhancement supplements are sold with claims without proof, relying on marketing, especially as they may be conveniently bought and used online without necessitating a visit to the doctor. However, numerous male enhancement supplements have been shown to be adulterated with either Viagra (sildenafil) or Cialis (tadalafil) in them among many prescription drugs. Furthermore, as there is no standardization or testing, it is difficult to ascertain what the cause of any possible side effects may be. FDA keeps an active list of tainted male enhancement products online. It should also be noted that the listing requirements do not necessitate the listing of active ingredients, thus the supplement may interact with other supplements or medications you may be taking.

Furthermore, in 2007 FDA started requiring Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs) and it is advisable to inquire about GMP adherence to the manufacturer of the chosen supplement to ensure the purity and lack of adulteration. Male enhancement supplements should be used carefully to ensure that one does not exceed Recommended Daily Allowance set for most Vitamins and Minerals by the Food and Nutrition Board. Finally, any products such as Semenax should be viewed as a “supplement” and in case of medical concerns, appropriate medical care acquired, as these products would not be expected to treat, cure or prevent any disease nor have been demonstrated to do so.

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prefix 10 months ago
Male enhancement supplements have gained significant popularity in recent years, with many individuals seeking natural alternatives to improve their sexual performance. While it's encouraging to see an increased interest in natural remedies, it's essential to approach these supplements with caution and make informed decisions.