SAN ANTONIO - Male enhancement pills promise all-natural treatment for erectile dysfunction. Fox San Antonio is finding out what's in them, if they're safe to use and who should never use them.
The pills are sold online, at gas stations and at adult stores like Adam & Eve where shelves are stocked.
"Very, very high demand," says store manager Desiree Hernandez. "We typically sell a couple hundred a week."
She says customers come back for more and tell her the pills work.
"And one pill lasts five to seven days in their system," Hernandez says.
The pills are sold over the counter and marketed as supplements. They're not regulated by the FDA.
"There's no one regulating what goes into the medication," explains Dr. Ashley Hadaway, a urologist from UT Health San Antonio.
She says the FDA has flagged some pills for hidden ingredients you won't see on the label.
"And oftentimes that hidden ingredient is actually sildenafil which is the active ingredient of the name brand Viagra," Dr. Hadaway says. "That's bad because we don't know the dosages in that medication."
She's seen firsthand when the pills promising long-lasting results are little too long lasting.
"We have seen patients come in with a condition known as priapism, which is an erection that will not go away," Dr. Hadaway says. "And ultimately several of them have had to have surgical procedures to relieve that issue."
Erectile dysfunction is on the rise, she says - especially in younger men.
"A lot of it is lifestyle factors," Dr. Hadaway adds.
If you have erectile dysfunction, you're at a higher risk for cardiovascular disease.
"The best natural treatment that you can have for erectile dysfunction would be increase exercise and lose weight. And really the biggest thing also is stop smoking," Dr. Hadaway says.
Back at Adam & Eve, Hernandez encourages customers to see a doctor, especially if they ask a common question.
"Can I use it if I have diabetes or heart issues?" she says many will ask. "I typically tell them no because [the pills] do help with the blood circulation. It could cause some kind of stroke or heart attack."
Her other big advice: only buy from a reputable store.
"So you have to watch out because there are a lot of counterfeit pills," Hernandez says. "Most of them do have a label that say if this label is not on here, it's counterfeit. And they all have a little stamp on the pill as well."
Her goal is to provide a little education to anyone looking for enhancement.
By EMILY BAUCUM