Erection of the penis is a good index to assess your sexual health. Men may have occasional problems relating to erection – i.e., both with having a firm penis as well as maintaining it all through a sexual intercourse. But that is not a big issue. It however turns into a medical condition when you are unable to have an erection and also maintain an erected penis most of the times. There are many triggers for this medical condition and there are a few drugs available through over the counter (OTC) route to treat it. Getting to know such OTC pills can help in achieving an erected penis and a satisfying sexual experience.

Erection of your penis occurs as an outcome of an intricate process; this involves blood vessels, brain signals, muscles, nerves, feelings (emotions) as well as hormones. It hence requires your physical as well as emotional wellbeing. Physical or bodily reasons that can influence your erection include excessive use of tobacco, substance abuse, insomnia or sleep apnea, overweight, high levels of blood sugar, hypertension, cardiac ailments, narrowing of your blood vessels, your body’s inability to make needful testosterone, problems associated with your prostate (such as an enlarged prostate or cancers in the region), injuries in the pelvic parts or surgical interventions in your spine, etc. On the other hand, emotional health related factors that may influence your erection are anxiety, increased levels of stress, mood swings including depression, problems in your relationships, etc.

Erectile dysfunction can lead to problems such as reduced self-esteem, a feeling of being embarrassed, inability to sexually satisfy one’s partner, problems related to maintaining healthy relationships with your partner, difficulties in making your partner to get pregnant, added levels of anxiety and stress due to these inabilities, etc.

Treatment of erectile dysfunction

This medical condition can be treated through multiple approaches. As a starting point, your doctor will understand what causes this condition. If this condition is due to a few habits – such as excessive smoking, substance abuse, lack of sleep, etc. – appropriate changes to your lifestyle are advised. Your treatment – in such instances – will include shedding excessive weight from the body; decrease the intake of alcohol or cutting down the number of cigars smoked per day.

Your doctor may also check if any other medications that you are currently consuming are causing erectile dysfunction. If so, dosage of such medicines is either lowered or a safer substitute is prescribed. The condition may also be treated by other approaches – especially, administering erectile dysfunction medicines, penile pumps or surgeries. If you are suffering from excessive stress or anxiety, a qualified therapist may induct you into mind relaxation techniques. In some instances, you may also need to have your partner included in these sessions; especially in sessions focused on lessening sexual stress or anxieties.

The most commonly prescribed medications are sildenafil, verdanafil, tadalafil, etc. These medications are often taken a few minutes or hours before a sexual intercourse. Multiple doses in a day are these pills are strictly avoided. The common side effects of these drugs are blockages in nasal passage, headache, muscular pains, temporary problems with your eyesight, etc. Men who are consuming nitrate medications are not advised to take these drugs.

OTC medications to treat erectile dysfunction

Medications commonly used for treatment are available through the prescriptions route. However, you do have a few options in the form of over the counter (OTC) products. What you do have under this banner is OTC pills and supplements that can boost your sexual health! It becomes necessary to check if it is safe to use these products for a longer term.

Of the many OTC medications available to treat erectile dysfunction, a few options do stand out. These are –L-arginine, DHEA, Ginseng and Yohimbine. It is necessary to know the potential of these OTC drugs to boost your sexual wellbeing as well as treat erectile dysfunction.


This substance is a needful ingredient for your body to produce protein. It is present in poultry products, meat (especially red meat) and dairy goods. It is also seen in a few types of fish. This is essentially an amino and is sourced from foods rich in proteins. L-arginine works by transforming itself into nitric oxide; this oxide can widen your blood vessels to ensure better circulation of blood. Foremost of all, it is a vasodilating substance. A proper and uniform flow of blood is one of the fundamental prerequisites to have a firm erection of the penis.

Intake of upto 5 grams of this substance is considered good for the sexual health of men. Its specific use rests in its ability to treat erectile dysfunction among men. When taken along with other items (for example extract of bark of pine trees), L-arginine can enhance its powers to cure male impotence.

It is considered safe to take this substance; however, you are advised to talk to your treating doctor before starting a course. Common side effects of taking L-arginine are signs of asthma, nausea due to drop in blood pressure, indigestion, etc. If you have a medical history of respiratory disorders or viral attacks (showing up as herpes or sores), it is not recommended to use this substance. Also, if you have recently had a cardiac arrest, it is not a good practice to take L-arginine.

L-arginine can interact with a few drugs such as diabetic drugs (as L-arginine lowers blood sugars and hence the dosage of diabetic medications needs to be altered accordingly), antiplatelet medications (if taken with L-arginine, you run a bigger risk of internal bleeding), diuretics (water pills and L-arginine may lead to a greater build-up of potassium levels), etc. Also, use of L-arginine with erectile dysfunction drugs such as sildenafil (generic name of Viagra) can lower your blood pressure significantly. You may soon develop a medical condition called hypotension as a result of this drug interaction.

L-arginine can yield an enhanced sexual performance if it is taken along with the bark of a tree named Pinus pinaster. While these two substances are combined, men have reported to have a firmer and longstanding erection. Also, this combination is known to help avert common side effects that conventional ED drugs (such as Viagra, Cialis, Stendra, Levitra, etc.) may trigger. These are migraine, indigestion, nausea, blurring of eyesight, nasal blocks, etc. L-arginine can also be taken along with yohimbine (especially, the hydrochloride form of this substance). But this combination is found to work well only when your condition is at a milder or at a moderate level.


This acronym stands for dehydroepiandrosterone, a substance that plays a key role in the making of your sexual hormones. Supplements made of this substance help in boosting your sexual health. DHEA is essentially made in your adrenal gland. Medical research is yet to fully substantiate how this substance boosts your libido. However, DHEA’s ability to enhance the production of sexual hormones is widely known.

In general, your body makes this substance on its own while you are young. The quantum of DHEA is at its maximum while you reach your early adulthood – say, in your mid-20s. In many people, the production of DHEA starts dropping as one becomes aged. If you are 60 years old, your body may be making only say 10% of the DHEA it used to make while you were a 21-year-old young man. You need to remember that DHEA is an essential ingredient for making estrogen and testosterone – i.e., female and male hormones. Drop in the production of DHEA is one reason why your body produces lesser amounts of estrogen and testosterone as you age.

DHEA is also linked to your muscular wellbeing as well as bone strength, mental wellbeing, increasing the immunity levels of your body, health of your adrenal glands, etc. In general, DHEA has a direct relationship with your energy levels. The supplements of DHEA are mostly made from yam (its wilder variant) and soy. These ingredients are soon transformed into estrogen and testosterone upon being metabolized.

Clinical research does show a direct association between the consumption of DHEA with your ability to have an erection. One specific study proves that an intake of 45 to 50 milligrams of DHEA once a day can enhance your libido and sexual health. You also need to remember that your sexual health may suffer when your adrenal gland is overworked or from chronic weariness or tiredness. Men with such symptoms are known to have dismal levels of DHEA. Talk to your doctor if you are excessively tired. The remedy may rest with taking a supplement of DHEA to boost your adrenal gland.

As a starting dose, you can take 15 milligrams of DHEA. This is recommended as a daily dose. It is advised to gradually increase the dosage level upto 50 milligrams as a daily dose. Through a test on a sample of your saliva, you can detect the levels of DHEA in your system. The blood sample test is considered a safer bet as saliva samples may often show inflated values of DHEA; especially when the drug is taken in its topical form.

DHEA may be consumed either through oral route or as a topical application. Scientific studies favor topical treatment as a better option than oral intake. This is because of the relatively lesser dosage of DHEA needed to yield desired outcomes. Also, oral intake of DHEA is known to cause some undesired side effects.


This is a popular herbal medicine known for its powers to stimulate sexual health and fertility. These pills are taken to boost your energy levels. But, how does ginseng work? It undergoes a chemical transformation – thanks to the role played by your digestive hormones and gastric juices. The resultant outcome is an increase in nitrate levels (in the form of nitric oxide). This substance can relax your blood vessels and can facilitate better flow of blood. Ginseng is often viewed as herbal equivalent of prescribed drugs to treat erectile dysfunction. Pills made from this herbal root are believed to increase your ability to have an erection, and above all, to sustain an erection as well. Another medical study hints at ginseng’s role in stimulating the production of male sex hormone called testosterone.

A research done on scores of men (~44 men) showed a marked improvement in the sexual health of subjects. As part of the study, subjects who had taken 900 milligrams of ginseng displayed best of the results. The dosage was administered thrice per day, for 60 days.

The other benefits ginseng offers are (a) it boosts pulmonary function (by reducing the number of bacteria in your lungs), (b) stimulates energy (stimulates physical as well as mental functions), (c) reduces body weight (decrease in appetite and a changed approach to digest carbohydrates help shed extra body weight), (d) case management of diabetes (this is seen to work more for people with type 2 diabetes; ginseng can reduce insulin resistance and can also decrease your blood sugar levels), (e) activates brain function (it helps boost cognition as well as enhances your moods), etc.

Some of the side effects of taking ginseng include sleeplessness, lowering of your blood sugar levels, altered rhythm of your heartbeat, etc. Hence, you are advised to tell your pharmacist or doctor about your existing medical conditions prior to taking these pills. Also, it is unsafe for children to take this drug. It is hence necessary to keep the pills out of reach of children. Ginseng is made available as pills or in powder form. You may consume it as a tea by adding the powder to hot water and making a brew.

Ginseng is however not recommended if you are already taking antidepressants or sleep-inducing medicines, anticoagulants or blood thinning medications. Other notable side effects include indigestion, migraine or headaches, etc. Ginseng may also change the rate of heartbeat; hence, those who have medical history of cardiac ailments or hypertension are not advised to use it without consulting a pharmacist or a qualified medical professional.


This substance is derived from a tree known as Pausinystalia johimbe in Africa; it is found in the central as well as western parts of the continent. It is sold as a sexual health supplement of herbal origin. The main use of this supplement is to treat sexual problems – especially erectile dysfunction (ED). The bark of this tree is known to have a substance called yohimbine. It is widely considered to have certain properties that help control a few receptors (especially of the alpha-2 adrenergic genre).

Alpha-2 adrenergic genre of receptors stands as an obstacle to a firmer erection. So, whenever these receptors are controlled, you are more likely to attain a better erection. In addition to blocking these receptors, yohimbine is also widely believed to help your body make nitric oxide. As is widely known, nitric oxide dilates your blood vessels. Such dilation ensures better flow of blood to your penile region, and thus brings about a better erection. Medical researches done on older men indicate yohimbine’s ability to improve sexual performances in more than 50% of them.

The product is often found to be labelled in an obscure manner. A recent research showed that as high as 75% of yohimbine-based products failed to label the ingredients in a clear fashion. In some instances, the correct measure of yohimbine was anywhere between 30% and 125% of the value printed on the product’s label.

In sum, the four notable erectile dysfunction drugs / supplements sold as OTC drugs are L-arginine, DHEA, Ginseng and Yohimbine. Each of them is known for their unique way of working. The end result may depend on a lot of factors such as your age, health, other medications that you are currently consuming, metabolism rate amid a host of other things.

L-arginine helps make nitric oxide to widen your blood vessels and thus ensures better flow of blood. It is a vasodilating item. As mentioned, a uniform blood circulation is a basic need to have and sustain an erection. On the other hand, DHEA enhances the production of sexual hormones. DHEA can be taken either through oral mode or as a topical medicine. Topical treatment is considered better than oral intake due to relatively lesser side effects. Ginseng increases nitrate levels which in turn leads to relaxation of your blood vessels and a better flow of blood. Yohimbine controls receptors (of the alpha-2 adrenergic genre) that stand as obstacles to have an erected penis.

Men may be deterred by the need to have a prescription to buy ED drugs as it involves a visit to a doctor. Your doctor assesses your health condition and if the condition warrants an ED drug, appropriate medication – such as Viagra, Cialis, Levitra, etc. – is prescribed. Men may often turn hesitant to have a frank discussion about their sexual health conditions with doctors. Also, prescription medications come with an added cost in the form of consultation with doctors. In the US, you need a proper prescription to buy ED drugs such as Viagra, Levitra, Cialis, etc. In the UK, a variant called as Viagra connect is sold as an OTC drug.

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