The Dangers of Gas Station Sex Pills

Except for the drink fridges and the candy aisle, a pharmacy and a gas station don’t have much in common. And as you might imagine, if you’re looking for safe medications, one is clearly preferable over the other.

If you’re experiencing some sexual performance issues at the moment, you might have considered male enhancement pills a solution worth paying inside for, but we’re here to tell you that over-the-counter sex pills aren't ED medications like Viagra that are considered safe and effective. 

Do gas station sex pills work? Sometimes, potentially. 

But these male enhancement dietary supplements are not FDA-approved erectile dysfunction drugs, and the best gas station sex pills may be the worst choice you can make for your health, for a few reasons:

  • They contain natural ingredients that lack rigorous research support 

  • A lack of approval, oversight and safety standards from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

  • They sometimes illegally contain ingredients that aren’t mentioned on their label.

Wondering why you should prioritize the kind of ED meds that a urologist or other healthcare professional can prescribe instead? Read on. But first, a primer.

Types of Gas Station Sex Pills

Some of the gas station sexual enhancement products on the market today have built themselves decent brand recognition as so-called over-the-counter sex pills. ED, PE and whatever else you’re struggling with — these products claim to solve (and enhance) everything.

A few of the enhancement supplements include:

There may be eleven more on retailers’ shelves by the time you read this, such as the Stree Overlord® pill

Even the FDA has trouble keeping up with the number of products on shelves, and most of them lack much scientific backing. Here are some info highlights about the most common ingredients in these mystery penis packs:

  • Horny goat weed (also called epimedium) has been shown to provide small benefits to erectile dysfunction in testing on animals due to an ingredient, icariin. But there are no significant human studies showing whether or not these effects can translate to people. 

  • Red ginseng products lack much scientific evidence to show any value for ED treatment. We’ve written more about the research on ginseng and ED.

  • Yohimbine may increase sex drive, but it also isn’t clear how Yohimbine compares in effectiveness to regular ED medications. It can also have a lot of side effects (including some serious ones). 

  • Nizagara contains ingredients like L-arginine, red berry, vitamin B6, vitamin B12 and folic acid, which have occasionally been linked to ED health benefits. Unfortunately, Nizagara contains an unlabeled ingredient, too: Viagra’s active ingredient, sildenafil. 

There’s not much to substantiate any of the claims about these products, and none of them have been tested in humans at scale or approved by the FDA for use as an ED treatment.

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Are Gas Station Sex Pills Safe?

Are these things safe? No, not even remotely. 

Not only is there limited medical rigor attached to their claims (unlike the FDA-approved stuff), but compared with established prescription drugs, they’re decades behind in terms of testing. That has led to shoddy claims, inaccurate labeling and even the illegal inclusion of prescription medications. 

In 2013, the Pharmacognosy Review concluded, “Due to unavailability of the safety data, unclear mechanisms, and lack of knowledge to support the extensive use of these substances, uses of these products may be risky to the human being.”

In 2015 the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a public notification to consumers that products marketed as “Herb Viagra” aren’t safe. The reason? These convenience store herbal supplements actually contained sildenafil, the active ingredient in the real version of Viagra, which is both illegal to do and not disclosed in the ingredients list.

Yes, sildenafil is technically the ingredient you want if you have ED. But you don’t want it in unmonitored, random doses. Gas station pills with sildenafil sound great until you realize that the dosing is not measured rigorously, making it a particularly risky sort of roulette to play with your erectile health. 

And this was just one of many cases in which unlabeled ingredients were found in similar products — enough to remove many of the ones you would have seen on shelves a decade ago and replace them with new ones.

Do Gas Station Pills Work?

Does gas station Viagra, sometimes-called “gas station boner pills” or “gas station dick pills” work for ED work? There seems to be no reliable information indicating they do, except in cases where these pills illegally contain any amount of actual sildenafil. 

But, as we said above, Viagra is only truly safe and effective when prescribed at the dose you need for your ED. 

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Side Effects and Risks of Gas Station Sex Pills 

What gas station penis pills lack in scientific backing for their benefits, they more than make up for in risks and side effects.

Seriously, look at the side effects of just a few of the “natural ingredients” commonly found in ED supplements:

  • Yohimbine can cause insomnia, hypertension and sweating.

  • Ginseng can cause constipation and rash, and can be dangerous for people with diabetes. 

  • Ginkgo biloba can cause seizures in rare cases.

  • L-arginine researchers actually stopped a study early because six people (six!) died, compared with zero in the placebo group, when researching it in heart attack survivors. 

That’s the stuff that’s supposed to be in these pills. Read that again.

And don’t forget that some of these supplements can cause a variety of symptoms like headaches and blood pressure fluctuations similar to those experienced with improperly dosed prescription ED medications — in some cases, because they illegally contain improperly dosed ED medications. 

Tainted sexual enhancement products can potentially lead to heart attack — not a cheap evening of consequence-free, better sex.

What You Should Take Instead of Gas Station “Viagra”

Medication for erectile dysfunction should always be prescribed by a trained and certified healthcare professional.

A healthcare professional is going to direct you to safe and effective medications called phosphodiesterase type 5 (PDE5) inhibitors. PDE5 inhibitors keep you hard by keeping the blood vessels in your penis dilated and your corpora cavernosa engorged. 

There are several types you may have heard of:

  • Sildenafil (active ingredient of Viagra) is typically used at least 30 to 60 minutes before sex and can provide about four hours of erectile dysfunction symptom relief.

  • Tadalafil (active ingredient of Cialis®) can provide up to 36 hours of game time per dose.

  • Vardenafil (active ingredient of Levitra®) like Viagra, is also used at least 60 minutes before sex, but tends to last a little longer.

  • Avanafil (active ingredient of Stendra® can work in 15 minutes. It’s a newer ED drug, and research shows fewer side effects with avanafil than older drugs.

Several of these have been used to treat pulmonary arterial hypertension in the past (and still are), so if you’re currently receiving other blood pressure treatments, you’ll want to let your healthcare provider know.

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Finding a Safe Alternative to Gas Station Sex Pills 

ED is a fairly common health condition associated with heart disease, high blood pressure and blood flow. It affects an estimated 30 million to 50 million men nationally. That’s one in four guys, so it’s nothing to be embarrassed about — certainly nothing that makes you anything but normal.

We get that some men feel self-conscious about ED, but if you’re buying a gas station pill to avoid going to the doctor, just go to the doctor. Similar to Spanish fly and other proclaimed effective, alternative treatments for ED, these products are all flash and no substance. In fact, they could be dangerous, too.

Embarrassment is a ground-level problem though, so let us give you some perspective:

  • A healthcare professional will be much less judgmental than the people in line behind you, and you won’t have to buy a Snickers® to disguise your purchase.

  • Healthcare providers can give you tailored medical advice, which is the most direct route to safe and effective treatment. 

  • They can screen for health conditions commonly associated with ED symptoms — from obesity and diabetes to anxiety and depression — and get you help for those, as well. 

In addition to lifestyle changes and therapy, you might also receive recommendations for medications we mentioned, like tadalafil or sildenafil (Cialis or Viagra). 

You may end up with a different medication altogether, which is fine. Just make sure that it’s safe and effective.

This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for and should never be relied upon for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment or medication.

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