In the Journals

Top-selling sexual dysfunction products lacking evidence of efficacy

Nutraceuticals for men’s sexual health are still commonly used, despite the lack of evidence for their efficacy, and urologists should equip themselves with the knowledge of their ingredients to better serve their patients, according to study results published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine.

“Physicians should be aware of the information regarding efficacy and toxicity for those substances commonly used by their patients,” Tao Cui, MD, of the department of urology at the Wake Forest School of Medicine, in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and colleagues wrote. “For example, products interfering with the hypothalamic-pituitary-testicular axis could affect hormone balance, fertility, sexual performance and virility. Furthermore, the prevalence of sexual dysfunction secondary to comorbid conditions or to the use of prescription medication(s) renders it vital for providers to be aware of interactions relevant to commonly used supplements.”

To summarize the available data on ingredients used in the top-selling nutraceuticals for male sexual dysfunction, the researchers used sales data from General Nutrition Corporation (GNC), the largest specialty retailer of dietary supplements in the United States. They examined the 30 top-selling products marketed to improve men’s sexual health on GNC’s website, and identified their most common active ingredients.

The researchers also reviewed studies related to the top products and their most common active ingredients, evaluating them for relevance to men’s sexual health, with a focus on the level of evidence for their efficacy.

According to the researchers, the top-selling products contained a blend of multiple supplements that, in one formulation, totaled 33 ingredients. The most common active ingredients were red ginseng Tribulis terrestris, trace elements of zinc, and at least one B vitamin, all of which were found in 43% of top-selling products for male sexual dysfunction. B vitamins used in the products included B6, B12, B9, B3 and B1.

Other supplements most commonly named as active ingredients were horny goat weed, trace elements of magnesium and selenium, fenugreek, L-arginine, maca, dehydroepaiandosterone (DHEA), Ginkgo biloba, yohimbine, L-carnitine and various antioxidants. Based on the studies reviewed by the researchers, none of the common active ingredients lack human evidence for their efficacy.

“While certain natural supplements show great promise at improving mild sexual dysfunction, all substances reviewed in this article lack robust human evidence,” Cui and colleagues wrote. “In addition, concerns of contamination and adulteration are sufficiently worrisome that we would presently caution against routinely recommending dietary supplements for male sexual health.” – by Jason Laday

Disclosure: The authors disclose no relevant financial disclosures.

Nutraceuticals for men’s sexual health are still commonly used, despite the lack of evidence for their efficacy, and urologists should equip themselves with the knowledge of their ingredients to better serve their patients, according to study results published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine.

“Physicians should be aware of the information regarding efficacy and toxicity for those substances commonly used by their patients,” Tao Cui, MD, of the department of urology at the Wake Forest School of Medicine, in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and colleagues wrote. “For example, products interfering with the hypothalamic-pituitary-testicular axis could affect hormone balance, fertility, sexual performance and virility. Furthermore, the prevalence of sexual dysfunction secondary to comorbid conditions or to the use of prescription medication(s) renders it vital for providers to be aware of interactions relevant to commonly used supplements.”

To summarize the available data on ingredients used in the top-selling nutraceuticals for male sexual dysfunction, the researchers used sales data from General Nutrition Corporation (GNC), the largest specialty retailer of dietary supplements in the United States. They examined the 30 top-selling products marketed to improve men’s sexual health on GNC’s website, and identified their most common active ingredients.

The researchers also reviewed studies related to the top products and their most common active ingredients, evaluating them for relevance to men’s sexual health, with a focus on the level of evidence for their efficacy.

According to the researchers, the top-selling products contained a blend of multiple supplements that, in one formulation, totaled 33 ingredients. The most common active ingredients were red ginseng Tribulis terrestris, trace elements of zinc, and at least one B vitamin, all of which were found in 43% of top-selling products for male sexual dysfunction. B vitamins used in the products included B6, B12, B9, B3 and B1.

Other supplements most commonly named as active ingredients were horny goat weed, trace elements of magnesium and selenium, fenugreek, L-arginine, maca, dehydroepaiandosterone (DHEA), Ginkgo biloba, yohimbine, L-carnitine and various antioxidants. Based on the studies reviewed by the researchers, none of the common active ingredients lack human evidence for their efficacy.

“While certain natural supplements show great promise at improving mild sexual dysfunction, all substances reviewed in this article lack robust human evidence,” Cui and colleagues wrote. “In addition, concerns of contamination and adulteration are sufficiently worrisome that we would presently caution against routinely recommending dietary supplements for male sexual health.” – by Jason Laday

Disclosure: The authors disclose no relevant financial disclosures.