Sex – Sexual boosters
Problems in the bedroom could see couples reach for instant solutions to pep up their sex life. Here’s what you should consider before you take that pill.
Everywhere you look, you’re bound to come across advertisements, pamphlets at the traffic light or spam in your email inbox that make outlandish claims of how to “lengthen your penis” and miracle pills to ensure you “last the whole night”.
There used to be only a few products to choose from to boost sexual performance, but now the market is flooded with different options you can get over the counter or on the Internet. But beware: these sexual enhancers are not regulated. Users don’t know their pharmacological composition, whether they work or what possible side effects to expect. So you need to be clued up on which ones are safe to use and what really works.
WHAT ARE SEXUAL ENHANCERS?
Sexual enhancers are drugs used to remedy erectile dysfunction and increase sexual arousal and desire. Increased stamina is one of the top benefits of sexual boosters, says Elna Carstens, a Joburg-based sex expert. “They enable the user to last longer in bed and to better satisfy his partner. Another benefit is improving libido or sex drive, which can decrease naturally with ageing or due to psychological and other problems,” she says.
They also prevent early ejaculation and the overall quality of sex. Sexual enhancers are known to be effective and can be prescribed by your doctor. They increase your libido thanks to an active ingredient that speeds up blood flow to the penis.
DO THEY REALLY WORK?
This is the big question, says Elmari Mulder Craig, a Pretoriabased certified sexologist. “There are several prescription sexual enhancers, including Viagra, Cialis, Levitra and Avigra. These drugs work very well in dilating blood vessels in the penis, leading to a strong erection. For women, testosterone is a sexual enhancer. If a woman’s testosterone level is too low she’ll have a lock on sexual desire,” Craig says.
But, it seems like the efficiency of these enhancers depends on your body, as Zuzile Mntambo, 32, experienced. Her husband had his prostate gland removed as part of his cancer treatment. She advised him to try sexual enhancers, but nothing good came out of it. “He began with Viagra but did not have a good result. Next, he tried penile injections without success. He then moved to the pump with a ring, and that worked. However, it was not spontaneous or romantic,” Zuzile remembers. “Three years into the journey he decided to have implant surgery and this resulted in the return of spontaneous lovemaking without pills, injections, or pumps,” she explains.
There are many over-the-counter sexual enhancers with unproven effectiveness, says Craig. “Natural sexual enhancers would be to lower your stress levels, to exercise, to get into the sun for your daily dose of vitamin D, to eat healthily including enough fruits and vegetables, and to also take an Omega-3 and vitamin B supplement,” she adds. South Africans are among the biggest consumers of sexual enhancers on the black market. These products range from effective to very dangerous, although no deaths have yet been reported. Their effectiveness vary from person to person.
Maria Zondi, 47, says her husband started suffering from erectile dysfunction in his late 40s, and it continued to progress. “My husband is now 63 and in pretty good shape. He’s active, eats well and doesn’t smoke. Although Viagra helped for a while, it gave him terrible headaches and he stopped. He’s now scared to try other sexual enhancers,” Maria says.
It’s important to first consult your doctor before taking any pills if you have an existing medical condition such as hypertension or diabetes, Craig suggests. “Your doctor may even prescribe an alternative or natural pill to improve your sexual performance. After all, you don’t want to put your health or life on the line for a bigger penis,” she cautions.
Over-the-counter sexual enhancers may be cheaper but you might not know what and how much active ingredient it contains. The lack of evidence from clinical trials also count against them. Some of these sexual enhancers have been approved for medical use and are considered safe within their approved indications. However, of great concern is when these drugs are bought on the street or from unreputable places. Rather than risk your health, consult a health professional, Craig advises. “Sexual problems and dysfunctions are complicated and usually multi-faceted. I would suggest that a couple rather consult with a professional sexologist. Libido problems and erectile dysfunction are often symptoms of other physical problems that need to be ruled out or treated first,” Craig concludes.