Male Enhancement Pills

How medication for male sexual performance really works

Last reviewed: 19 Dec 2018

Man in a cafe holding an espresso looking for male enhancement pills on his phone
Contents of this article

Male enhancement pills are pills that usually claim to enlarge penis size and/or improve sexual performance.

They’re widely sold over the counter and through the internet, but aren’t proven to live up to their claims. Some of these pills may even be dangerous to your health.

What is male enhancement?

‘Male enhancement’ is also sometimes known as ‘male enlargement’. It’s the idea that you can use products like male enhancement pills, or other methods, to make your penis bigger and/or improve your sexual performance.

A lot of people try male enhancement products, and sometimes because they’re experiencing a medical condition like erectile dysfunction or low sex drive.

While erectile dysfunction and low sex drive may be medically diagnosed and treated, penises can’t be made physically bigger through medication.

Low sex drive and erectile dysfunction are medical problems that are recognised by the government and the NHS, they can be assessed by a qualified healthcare professional. Also tested and reliable treatments are available to help.

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What are male enhancement pills?

Male enhancement pills can be bought over the counter or on the internet. They are usually herbal in nature (the are made using plant extracts). Usually these male enhancement products make claims on the packaging about enlarged penis size and enhancing sexual performance. For example a male enhancement pill may contain substances that increase blood flow in the body and may therefore claim to increase blood flow specifically to the penis area to improve sexual function however there isn’t always enough evidence to prove that they actually work.

That being said, there is some evidence to suggest some herbal products may improve sexual function. For example maca is a Peruvian herb known as being 'adaptogenic', meaning it helps to keep the bodies systems balanced, including hormone levels. Other popular herbal remedies include saffron, muesli, and mondia whitei with some evidence suggesting they can play a role in enhancing sexual arousal and performance.

Is buying male enhancement pills a good idea?

It’s not a good idea to buy male enhancement pills, as these products don’t go through the proper levels of testing that real medications do. This means it’s not proven that they work or that they’re definitely safe. Some of them could put your health at risk and are likely to be a waste of money.

Recent studies have shown that many of these male enhancement products are labelled as ‘natural’. This isn’t true, because they often contain active pharmaceutical ingredients that are also found in real medication. This is another major safety concern with these pills.

Although it may sound good that some male enhancement products contain real active ingredients, the quantities are not properly measured and they can cause serious health problems if a doctor hasn’t checked that these ingredients are safe for you.

If you’re concerned about your sex drive, or you’re finding it hard to get or keep erections, it’s best to get an assessment from an online doctor or GP. That way, you can get safe treatment that could include medications that have been properly tested and proven to work.

Can male enhancement pills improve my penis size?

A lot of pills claim to be able to enhance penis size. But there’s no possible way of physically increasing the size of a penis by taking a pill, or any other medical treatment.

But, if erectile dysfunction is treated, it could increase the fullness of your penis when erect. This will only be the case if you were unable to get a full erection before you started treatment.

What medication is available for male sexual performance?

There are 2 conditions related to male sexual performance that can be treated with medication: erectile dysfunction and premature ejaculation.

Erectile dysfunction

Erectile dysfunction is when you have difficulty getting or keeping a firm enough erection for long enough. Some people find erectile dysfunction distressing, but it is relatively common with 1 in 10 men experiencing it. It can be easily and discreetly treated but many people don’t take advantage of treatment options that are readily available.

Go-to medical treatments for erectile dysfunction include PDE-5 inhibitors:

These types of medicines are all tablets and they start working between half an hour to an hour of taking them.

Premature ejaculation

This is when you ejaculate too quickly before or during sex. It’s the most common ejaculation problem experienced by men.

Ejaculation time during sexual activity is different for each person and there’s no universal rule about how long sex should last. So premature ejaculation is when it happens sooner than you want it to.

It’s very common for people to experience premature ejaculation from time to time. Treatment may be available if half or more of your ejaculations are happen before you want them to. A common treatment is Priligy, which is a tablet taken by mouth an hour before sex. Another treatment is a cream called EMLA, which is applied to the penis about half an hour before sex.

Can male enhancement pills improve my sex drive?

Sex drive in men can sometimes be related to the hormone testosterone and its levels in the body. For example, If a man’s testosterone levels are low then testosterone hormone replacement therapy can help some men to improve their sex drive.

Hormone replacement therapy for testosterone can be taken through a skin patch, a gel, a mouth patch, an injection, or an implant. These treatments work to balance the levels of testosterone in your body, to treat the root cause of low sex drive.

Alternative treatments for low sex drive, no matter what your testosterone levels are, can include lifestyle changes. For example, cutting back on alcohol and smoking, both of which may contribute to low sex drive. Also, exercising and maintaining a healthy weight can support good sexual health and performance.


Dr Kathryn Basford is a qualified GP who works as a GP in London, as well as with Zava. She graduated from the University of Manchester and completed her GP training through Whipps Cross Hospital in London.

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Last reviewed: 19 Dec 2018

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Erectile Dysfunction Treatments

Zava offers a convenient and discreet service to help men improve their erectile dysfunction. There are a number of treatments you can consider. Continue to our erectile dysfunction service page to learn about the treatment options available.

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