Medically reviewed by Katelyn Hagerty, FNP
Written by Our Editorial Team
Last updated 10/5/2022
Sex tablets, pills and supplements promising better erections, more stamina and even a larger penis are easy to find online and in most sex stores.
Many of these products make bold claims about their effectiveness and have flashy packaging and suggestive names. But do they actually work?
While science-based medications can treat issues like erectile dysfunction (ED) and premature ejaculation (PE), most over-the-counter sex tablets don’t appear to be effective.
More concerning, some sex tablets have been found to contain unlabeled, potentially dangerous ingredients that could cause side effects and interactions.
We’ve explained which medications actually work for common sexual performance issues such as erectile dysfunction and premature ejaculation.
Most sex pills use herbal ingredients that aren’t proven to have any significant effects on your erections, stamina or general sexual performance.
Other products contain ingredients that are linked to mild improvements in certain aspects of sexual health. For example, many “testosterone boosting” sex tablets contain ingredients like zinc, magnesium, fenugreek and others.
As we’ve discussed in our guide to increasing your testosterone levels, these ingredients are proven to increase testosterone by a small amount in people with nutritional deficiencies.
However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that they’ll have the same effects in healthy men, or that they’ll produce a noticeable improvement in things like your erections, stamina or overall sex life.
Since sex pills are supplements rather than drugs, they aren’t held to the same standards for effectiveness as FDA-approved medications. Unlike PE or ED medications, there’s no lengthy trial and approval process -- instead, dietary supplements (like horny goat weed) are regulated as food products with no FDA-approved active ingredient.
Because of this, manufacturers of sex pills, tablets and other supplements have a lot of leeway when it comes to making claims about what their products can do, all without any need to back up these claims with studies or other data.
In short, while some sex pills might offer benefits, there currently isn’t any high-quality scientific evidence to show they work.
Since over-the-counter sex tablets and supplements aren’t subject to the same FDA regulations as medications, many aren’t properly checked to make sure they’re safe for human use.
Many of these products are also manufactured in less-than-optimal conditions, meaning there’s no way to tell if the ingredients listed on the label are really what’s in the supplement.
Although some sex pills probably are honest about their ingredients, there have been numerous scandals regarding spiked ingredients in sex pills over the years, including ingredients that may potentially be dangerous.
You can view recent investigations and public notifications into tainted sex tablets and pills using the FDA’s Tainted Sexual Enhancement Products list.
The best sex pills available are those that are FDA approved and available by prescription.
These treat problems with sexual stimulation, such as erectile dysfunction or premature ejaculation. It’s generally a good idea to stay away from gas station sex pills that promise to amp up your sexual activity.
Prescription drugs sold as male enhancement pills can also aid in the treatment of other health problems such as high blood pressure and poor blood flow to your blood vessels. Gas station sex pills? Don’t believe it if they promise it. They won’t magically increase your penis size or ramp up your sex drive.
Always seek medical advice from your healthcare provider before taking any sex pills.
If you have a sexual performance issue that you’d like to treat, you’ll get better results by using a science-based medication than by purchasing an over-the-counter sex enhancement supplement.
Science-backed medications are available for most sexual dysfunction medical conditions, including erectile dysfunction (ED) and premature ejaculation (PE).
While most sex tablets and pills available online aren’t backed up by science, proven treatments are available for issues like erectile dysfunction and premature ejaculation.
If you’re affected by erectile dysfunction, you can talk to a healthcare provider online and access proven, FDA-approved ED treatments such as sildenafil, tadalafil and more.
You can also learn more about treating common sexual performance issues in our full guides to erectile dysfunction and premature ejaculation.