Medically reviewed by Kristin Hall, FNP
Written by Our Editorial Team
Last updated 4/12/2021
Erectile dysfunction, or ED, is a common condition that affects an estimated 30 million men in the United States.
If you’ve searched online for information about erectile dysfunction treatments, you may have come across a supplement called ExtenZe®.
ExtenZe is marketed as a “male enhancement” supplement that’s designed to increase sexual pleasure and performance, boost your stamina and enhance your testosterone production and male vitality.
While these claims are appealing, the science behind ExtenZe isn’t very reliable and there’s no evidence that it’s effective at treating erectile dysfunction or other sexual issues.
There has also been some controversy about ExtenZe’s marketing practices, claimed benefits and the use of unlabeled, potentially dangerous ingredients in this supplement.
Below, we’ve explained what exactly ExtenZe is and whether or not it works as a treatment for erectile dysfunction. We’ve also dug into the history of ExtenZe, particularly its association with questionable claims about sexual performance benefits and penis size enhancement.
Finally, we’ve listed real, science-based treatments that you can use to treat erectile dysfunction and improve your sexual performance.
ExtenZe is a supplement. It’s marketed as a male enhancement product that improves just about every aspect of your sexual performance, from pleasure to stamina, energy, vitality and more.
Despite marketing claims, there’s no scientific evidence to show that ExtenZe is effective at treating erectile dysfunction.
Likewise, there’s no evidence that ExtenZe improves other aspects of sexual function or performance in men.
The company that makes and markets ExtenZe has been sued several times for making unsubstantiated advertising claims about its product’s effects.
Investigations by the FDA have found that ExtenZe and certain other male enhancement pills sometimes contain unlisted ingredients, including prescription ED medications such as sildenafil.
ExtenZe is a well-known male enhancement supplement. It’s been around for several decades and is marketed online and via TV ads and infomercials, usually broadcast late at night.
Like other male enhancement supplements, ExtenZe has made a broad range of claims about its effects over the years. For the most part, it claims to enhance your sexual performance and treat common male sexual health issues.
ExtenZe comes in both tablet and oral gelcaps and is available from most drugstores and stores that sell sexual wellness supplements.
Although ExtenZe might look like a medication, the reality is that it’s a supplement. As such, it isn’t subject to the same testing or regulatory oversight as medications like sildenafil (Viagra®) and others.
While these medications need to prove that they work in order to go on sale, supplements like ExtenZe can be sold without any need to demonstrate their effectiveness in clinical trials.
Currently, there’s no scientific evidence that ExtenZe pills improve your erections, increase your stamina or have any other positive effects on your sexual performance.
As we mentioned above, ExtenZe is a supplement, not a medication. This means that it doesn’t need to go through the same clinical trial process that new medications go through to show that they’re safe and effective.
There are currently no clinical trials or peer-reviewed studies in major scientific journals that look at the effectiveness of ExtenZe as a treatment for erectile dysfunction, premature ejaculation or any other sexual performance issues.
Now, this doesn’t necessarily mean that ExtenZe doesn’t work. ExtenZe is a relatively popular supplement. Some ExtenZe users may report anecdotal benefits for their sexual performance, even if these are just placebo responses.
However, based on the research that’s available, we can’t confidently state that ExtenZe or any similar untested supplements are effective treatments for ED.
One thing to know is that the company behind ExtenZe, Biotab Nutraceuticals, has been subject to legal action several times for its marketing practices.
In 2011, the company agreed to pay a $1.75 million fine for engaging in misleading advertising by claiming without any evidence that ExtenZe could increase penis size.
One year earlier, the company settled a deceptive advertising class action lawsuit for $6 million without admitting any wrongdoing.
Even before these cases, the previous company behind ExtenZe had dealt with legal action. In 2006, it paid out $300,000 in civic penalties after making unsubstantiated claims that ExtenZe pills could increase men’s penis size by 27 percent.
More worryingly, an investigation into ExtenZe found that the supplements exceeded the legal limit in California for lead content, causing some users to become physically ill.
In addition to facing legal action, ExtenZe has faced scrutiny from regulators regarding the use of unlabeled ingredients, including active ingredients used in prescription medications.
In 2018, the FDA announced that ExtenZe Plus contained sildenafil, a medication that’s used to erectile dysfunction and the active ingredient in Viagra®.
Unlabeled ingredients are a major safety issue, as they can cause interactions when used with certain medications and other products.
According to the FDA, the unlabeled sildenafil found in ExtenZe Plus may “interact with nitrates found in some prescription drugs” and “may lower blood pressure to dangerous levels.”
ExtenZe contains several active ingredients, some of which may affect certain aspects of your sexual health and performance. These include:
Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA). DHEA is a steroid hormone precursor that’s used by your body to create androgens like testosterone and dihydrotestosterone (DHT).
Because of DHEA’s effects on testosterone levels, it’s listed as a banned substance by the World Anti-Doping Agency.
Pregnenolone. Pregnenolone is also a precursor hormone that’s used by your body to create testosterone, estrogen and other hormones.
Yohimbe. Yohimbe is a natural ingredient made from the bark of a tree native to central and western Africa. It contains the ingredient yohimbine, which is often promoted as an athletic performance booster.
Currently, there isn’t enough research to show that yohimbe is helpful for treating ED or improving athletic performance.
This is also problematic because in the U.S., it is illegal to market an over-the-counter product containing yohimbe as an ED medication without first obtaining FDA approval, which ExtenZe hasn’t received.
Tribulus. Tribulus is another herbal ingredient. It’s often used in male enhancement and fitness supplements due to its supposed benefits for building muscle mass and boosting testosterone levels.
Although some research has shown that tribulus may increase testosterone levels when it’s used with other ingredients, there’s very little research into its own effects.
Korean ginseng. Korean ginseng, or Asian ginseng, is a popular herbal folk ingredient that’s believed to boost energy and improve cardiovascular health.
Although some research has suggested that Korean red ginseng may help to treat ED, both the quality and quantity of existing research is limited.
L-arginine. L-arginine is an amino acid that’s marketed as a natural option for improving blood flow. Research suggests that l-arginine, when used with other ingredients, may be effective at improving sexual function in men with ED.
Gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA). GABA is a neurotransmitter that’s responsible for inhibiting activity in your brain. It’s widely available as a nutritional supplement, although the effects of supplemental GABA on mood and sexual performance aren’t clear.
ExtenZe is sold in several formulations. Some of these may include additional or different active ingredients from those listed above. If you’re considering ExtenZe, you can read the ingredients list on the product’s packaging to check its contents.
Some of the ingredients used in ExtenZe may cause side effects, including several serious side effects that may affect your health and wellbeing.
For example, yohimbe, which is listed as an active ingredient in the “ExtenZe Sexual Response Enhancement Blend,” has been associated with heart attacks and seizures. It’s also linked to issues such as anxiety, high blood pressure, tachycardia (rapid heartbeat) and others.
Other ingredients may also cause side effects. For example, as an androgen, DHEA can cause side effects, such as male pattern baldness, acne and breast swelling (gynecomastia). It’s also associated with heart health issues such as changes in cholesterol and high blood pressure.
Because of these potential side effects, it’s important to talk to your healthcare provider before using ExtenZe or any other male enhancement supplements.
Currently, there’s no scientific evidence that shows that ExtenZe or any other over-the-counter male enhancement pills are effective at treating erectile dysfunction.
However, treatments for ED are available. In fact, several FDA-approved medications can help you to achieve better erections and enjoy better sexual performance even if you’re affected by erectile dysfunction.
If you have erectile dysfunction, you’ll get much better results from science-based medication than from over-the-counter supplements like ExtenZe.
Unlike supplements, ED medications need to go through extensive testing in order to receive approval from the FDA. This testing is designed to verify that they’re safe to use and effective for their intended purpose.
Currently, the FDA has approved the following medications as treatments for ED:
Sildenafil. The active ingredient in Viagra, sildenafil is a popular ED medication that can provide relief from erectile dysfunction for up to four hours per dose.
Tadalafil. The active ingredient in Cialis®, tadalafil is a longer-lasting medication that’s designed to provide relief from ED for up to 36 hours per dose.
Vardenafil. The active ingredient in Levitra®, vardenafil provides relief from ED for about four hours per dose.
Avanafil. The active ingredient in Stendra®, avanafil is a second-generation medication that’s less likely to cause certain side effects than older ED treatments.
These medications work by increasing the amount of blood flow to your penis, making it easier for you to get and maintain an erection before and during sex.
If you’re one of the tens of millions of men affected by ED every year, making certain changes to your lifestyle and habits may help to improve your erections and sexual health. Try to:
Stay active and exercise regularly
Follow a healthy, balanced diet
Maintain a healthy body weight
Drink alcohol in moderation
If you smoke, make an effort to quit
We’ve provided more information about the best habits for sexual performance in our guide to naturally protecting your erection.
As well as living a healthy lifestyle, it’s important to stay on top of medical conditions that may contribute to ED. These include issues such as high blood pressure, atherosclerosis (clogged arteries) and type 2 diabetes.
You can learn more about how these issues can affect your erections and sexual health in our guide to the causes of erectile dysfunction.
Behind the suggestive marketing, there’s no real science to back up claims that ExtenZe can improve your sexual performance or treat issues like erectile dysfunction.
As such, ExtenZe and products like it aren’t recommended if you have ED. Instead, it’s better to talk to a healthcare provider about using real, science-based ED medications such as sildenafil, tadalafil and others to improve your erections and enjoy a fulfilling sex life.
You can learn more about the best options for treating ED in our full guide to the most common erectile dysfunction treatments and drugs.
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