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Do Sex Tablets and Pills Actually Work?

Katelyn Hagerty FNP

Medically reviewed by Katelyn Hagerty, FNP

Written by Our Editorial Team

Last updated 4/29/2021

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 contain unlabeled, potentially dangerous ingredients that could cause side effects and interactions. 

Below, we’ve explained what sex tablets are, as well as whether or not they’re actually effective at enhancing sexual performance and pleasure.

We’ve also explained which medications actually work for common sexual performance issues such as erectile dysfunction and premature ejaculation.

Sex Tablets & Pills: The Basics

  • Tablets and other supplements that claim to improve your sexual performance are easy to find online and from sex stores. These tablets are usually promoted as being able to boost your stamina, treat ED and increase your penis size.

  • While some medications can help to improve your sexual performance, there’s very little evidence to support the claims made by most “male enhancement” supplements.

  • If you’re affected by erectile dysfunction, proven ED treatments like sildenafil (generic Viagra®) and tadalafil (Cialis®) are the most effective options for improving your sexual performance.

  • If you’re affected by premature ejaculation, medications like sertraline for pe can improve your stamina and make it easier to have sex without reaching orgasm too early.

  • Despite the claims made by some supplement manufacturers, there currently aren’t any medications or supplements that can increase penis size. 

What Are Sex Tablets?

Terms like “sex tablet” and “sex pill” are usually used to refer to herbal supplements and other products marketed specifically as sexual performance enhancers. 

You can find these products online, in convenience stores and in sex stores. Many make bold claims about their ability to enhance your sexual performance, increase your level of pleasure and even make your penis physically larger. 

Other common benefits claimed by sex pills, tablets and supplements include increasing your semen volume, boosting your testosterone and strengthening your libido. 

Since they’re primarily aimed at men, these sex tablets and pills are often referred to as “male enhancement” products. We’ve listed several common products of this type in our full guide to the most popular male enhancement pills

It’s important to differentiate between these products and FDA-approved, prescription drugs for various sexual performance issues.

For example, medications like sildenafil (Viagra) and sertraline (Zoloft® are often prescribed to treat specific sexual issues, such as erectile dysfunction and premature ejaculation.

These medications require a prescription and aren’t sold over the counter in sex stores or other retailers. Instead of being referred to as sex pills, they’re usually referred to as ED medications or PE medications.

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Do These Products Work?

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 sexual performance. 

Since sex pills are supplements rather than drugs, they aren’t held to the same standards for effectiveness as FDA-approved medications. Unlike with medications, there’s no lengthy trial and approval process -- instead, dietary supplements are regulated as food products.

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. 

Are Sex Tablets Safe?

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.

What Can Improve Your Sexual Performance?

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 supplement.

Science-backed medications are available for most sexual performance issues, including erectile dysfunction (ED) and premature ejaculation (PE).

We’ve provided more information about these medications below, as well as the steps that you can take to access and purchase them.

Erectile Dysfunction Medications

Erectile dysfunction is a common issue for men. Because erections play such a key role in sex, many male enhancement supplements and sex tablets promise harder, longer-lasting erections as a major benefit. 

If you have erectile dysfunction, the most effective treatment option for improving your erections and sexual performance is science-based, FDA-approved ED medication. 

Modern ED medications belong to a class of drugs called PDE5 inhibitors. They work by making it easier for blood to flow to the erectile tissue of your penis, allowing you to get and maintain an erection when you feel sexually aroused.

Currently, four medications are used to treat ED:

  • Sildenafil. This is the active ingredient in Viagra. It’s a versatile, widely-used medication that makes it easier to get and maintain an erection for around four hours per dose.

  • Tadalafil. This is the active ingredient in Cialis. It’s a long-lasting medication that treats ED for up to 36 hours per dose.

  • Vardenafil. This is the active ingredient in Levitra®. It provides relief from ED for around the same amount of time as sildenafil.

  • Avanafil. This is the active ingredient in Stendra®. It’s a new, fast-acting ED medication that’s less likely to cause certain side effects.

Unlike male enhancement supplements and other sex tablets, these medications are subject to extensive testing before they go on the market.

This testing not only involves checking that they’re safe, but also that they’re effective at treating erectile dysfunction. 

For example, clinical trials of Viagra, a popular brand of sildenafil, found that 57 percent of men with ED who used Viagra reported improved erections, versus just 10 percent of men who used a non-therapeutic placebo.

Currently, all of these medications require a prescription. We offer the opportunity to buy several generic and brand name ED medications online online, following a private consultation with a licensed healthcare provider who will determine if a prescription is appropriate. 

Premature Ejaculation Medications

Premature ejaculation is another common sexual performance issue. Since we associate sexual pleasure with longer-lasting sex, many sex tablets and male enhancement products claim to be able to boost stamina and prevent premature ejaculation. 

Currently, the most effective medications for improving stamina and delaying orgasm are SSRIs (a type of antidepressant) and topical products that are applied directly to your penis.

Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs)

SSRIs are antidepressants that are used primarily to treat depression and anxiety disorders. In some cases, they’re also prescribed off-label to treat premature ejaculation.

Researchers aren’t fully aware of precisely how SSRIs delay ejaculation. However, studies that look at SSRIs and sexual performance have found that several SSRIs can delay the process of reaching orgasm and ejaculating during sex. These include:

  • Sertraline (the active ingredient in Zoloft)

  • Fluoxetine (Prozac®)

  • Escitalopram (Lexapro®)

  • Paroxetine (Paxil®)

We offer sertraline as a treatment for premature ejaculation online, following a consultation with a licensed healthcare provider who will determine if a prescription is appropriate.

Topical Sprays and Creams

Premature ejaculation is also treatable using topical sprays and creams. These usually contain a topical anaesthetic that alters the sensitivity of your penis, allowing you to have sex for longer before reaching orgasm and ejaculating. 

Our Premature Ejaculation Spray contains lidocaine and is designed for use five to 10 minutes before sex. 

Other Ways to Improve Sexual Performance

In addition to using medication for erectile dysfunction or premature ejaculation, making certain changes to your lifestyle can improve your sexual health and performance. Try to:

  • Keep yourself active. Erections and sexual stamina are all about good cardiovascular health. In fact, research has found that men with ED caused by clogged arteries tend to develop better erections when they exercise regularly. Try to stay active, even if it just means going on a short walk or working out for 15 to 30 minutes a day.

  • Maintain a healthy body weight. Research shows that being overweight or obese can increase your risk of developing ED. Obesity is also linked to issues such as diabetes, which can have a significant negative effect on your sexual performance. To minimize your risk of developing ED, try to focus on maintaining a body weight in the Healthy Weight range.

  • Avoid cigarettes and other nicotine products. Both cigarettes and other products that contain nicotine may affect your sexual performance, as nicotine is associated with lower levels of physiological sexual arousal in men. If you’re a smoker, try to quit. While it’s definitely tough, staying smoke-free can improve both your sexual function and your general health.

  • Limit your alcohol consumption. Research shows that alcohol consumption is closely linked to several forms of sexual dysfunction, including premature ejaculation, low levels of sexual desire and erectile dysfunction. While it’s okay to drink alcohol every now and then, make sure to limit your consumption and only drink in moderation. 

We’ve shared more lifestyle tips and habits for improving your sexual performance in our guide to naturally protecting your erection

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In Conclusion

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

11 Sources

Hims & Hers has strict sourcing guidelines to ensure our content is accurate and current. We rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We strive to use primary sources and refrain from using tertiary references.

  1. Dietary Supplements. (2020, December 18). Retrieved from https://www.fda.gov/consumers/consumer-updates/dietary-supplements
  2. Tainted Sexual Enhancement Products. (2021, March 29). Retrieved from https://www.fda.gov/drugs/medication-health-fraud/tainted-sexual-enhancement-products
  3. Which drug for erectile dysfunction? (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.health.harvard.edu/mens-health/which-drug-for-erectile-dysfunction
  4. VIAGRA® (sildenafil citrate) tablets, for oral use. (2017). Retrieved from https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2017/020895s048lbl.pdf
  5. Crowdis M, Nazir S. Premature Ejaculation. Updated 2020 Jun 28. In: StatPearls Internet. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2021 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK546701/
  6. Arafa, M. & Shamloul, R. (2007, August). A randomized study examining the effect of 3 SSRI on premature ejaculation using a validated questionnaire. Therapeutics and Clinical Risk Management. 3 (4), 527–531. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2374931/
  7. Lamina, S., Agbanusi, E.C. & Nwacha, R.C. (2011, November). Effects of Aerobic Exercise in the Management of Erectile Dysfunction: A Meta Analysis Study on Randomized Controlled Trials. Ethiopian Journal of Health Science. 21 (3), 195–201. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3275865/
  8. Skrypnik, D., Bogdański, P. & Musialik, K. (2014, February). Obesity--significant risk factor for erectile dysfunction in men. Polski Merkuriusz Lekarski. 36 (212), 137-41. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24720114/
  9. Assessing Your Weight. (2020, September 17). Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/assessing/index.html
  10. Harte, C.B. & Meston, C.M. (2008, January). Acute Effects of Nicotine on Physiological and Subjective Sexual Arousal in Nonsmoking Men: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial. Journal of Sexual Medicine. 5 (1), 110–121. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2864030/
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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.

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