As men get older, their libido, stamina, energy levels, and sexual performance can start to decrease, especially if they don’t take good care of themselves. With low levels of androgen hormones, poor blood flow to the reproductive system, and the resulting lack of sexual appetite, your performance in the bedroom is going to suffer.
Male enhancement pills target all of these issues. With vitamins and minerals to support high testosterone levels, nitric oxide boosters that increase blood flow, and herbal extracts that increase sexual desire and stamina, male enhancement pills are designed to support all aspects of men’s sexual wellness.
Want to find a male enhancement pill that really works? Check out our analysis below of the real benefits and proven ingredients that make up a good male enhancement pill.
Male enhancement pill benefits
1. Older men are more likely to benefit from a male enhancement pill
After about age 30, men face increasing rates of erectile dysfunction, poor sexual performance and sexual arousal, and low testosterone, to name just a few.
A male enhancement pill is a supplement designed to address all of these issues in a natural way with a combination of supplements, vitamins, and minerals.
Many men turn to male enhancement pills instead of, or in addition to, more standard medical treatments like Viagra, Cialis, or testosterone replacement therapy.
The right male enhancement pill can take advantage of the natural sexual wellness and performance-boosting properties of a range of vitamins, minerals, supplements, and herbal extracts for maximal results.
2. Horny goat weed can treat erectile dysfunction and improve erection strength
One of the hottest and most potent ingredients in many modern male enhancement pills is horny goat weed, a plant native to Asia that’s long been used as an aphrodisiac in traditional medicine practices.
Evidence for its efficacy at improving erection strength and fighting erectile dysfunction is based on research in animals that shows that compounds in horny goat weed act on specific biochemical pathways that increase blood flow during erections.
One such study was published in 2013 in the Journal of Sexual Medicine by researchers at the University of California Knuppe (1).
In the study, the researchers conducted a series of experiments on rats that demonstrated the activity of the active ingredient in horny goat weed. They found increased blood flow during erections as well as increased central nervous system activity.
3. Tribulus terrestris can contribute to erectile function and stamina
Many male enhancement supplements also employ Tribulus terrestris, an herbal extract that has a similarly long history of use as an aphrodisiac.
Like horny goat weed, animal studies also support the role of Tribulus terrestris in improving male sexual function, although through a different pathway.
A study published in 2013 by researchers in Korea studied the biochemistry of Tribulus terrestris in living cells to uncover an explanation for its function as a supplement for sexual function (2). The researchers found that Tribulus terrestris up-regulates the activity of the nitric oxide cycle, which is tightly linked to blood flow.
Hence, more nitric oxide means more blood flow, and as a result, stronger and longer-lasting erections. This would explain why Tribulus terrestris is a popular supplement in its own right, and bolsters the argument that it should be included in a male enhancement pill.
4. Maca root can improve sexual desire, independent of testosterone level
Maca root powder is another popular male enhancement supplement ingredient, and it was long thought that this South American plant increased testosterone, which would explain its ability to boost sexual desire.
However, large and well-designed studies found that maca does not, by itself, increase levels of testosterone or its metabolites (3).
Could maca still be useful? One study published by researchers in Peru in the scientific journal Andrologica suggests that maca acts through a different pathway to boost sexual desire (4).
This provides evidence that maca increases sexual desire and arousal through a pathway other than increased testosterone, which suggests that it could work even better alongside a supplement that does increase testosterone.
5. Male enhancement pills can take several weeks to reach their full effect
In the same study on maca root, the researchers also noted that the increases in sexual desire did not occur until eight weeks into the study.
This may also be the case with other male enhancement pills: if they aren’t working immediately, but you aren’t experiencing any negative side effects, it may take a few weeks for the effects to completely kick in.
Male enhancement pill side effects
Because of the wide discrepancies in ingredients among male enhancement supplements, it should not be too surprising that some people have side effects.
Reports published in medical journals cite cases of rashes, hyperactivity, and rapid heart rate (5, 6).
Because male enhancement pills usually have many different ingredients, it can be hard to determine which ingredient is responsible for the negative side effects. Among the more mild effects that users report are headaches and gastrointestinal problems.
Since there are so many different formulations, the risk of side effects varies from person to person and from one pill to another, but some of the side effects that have been reported with male enhancement pills include rashes, rapid heart rates, high excitability, gastrointestinal effects, and headaches.
You can minimize the risk of side effects by sticking with the recommended dosage of a male enhancement pill from a recommended manufacturer, and discontinuing use if you do develop side effects.
Male enhancement pill dosage
Again, because the amount and dose of active ingredients varies so widely from one supplement to another, it is hard to make any blanket recommendations.
Some active ingredients, like maca and horny goat weed, are usually taken in high doses (anywhere from 150 to over 1000 mg per day), while others, like zinc, are taken at lower doses of 20-40 mg.
The best bet is to stick with a highly-ranked male enhancement pill from a reputable manufacturer, and not to exceed the recommended dosage. Shady sources or excessive dosages are where people often run into trouble with side effects.
Male enhancement pill benefits FAQ
Q: What vitamins are best for male enhancement?
A: If you are specifically looking for vitamins that improve male sexual function, the best candidates are actually trace minerals: compounds like zinc, copper, and magnesium (often found in multivitamins for men) are surprisingly effective.
In older men in particular, deficiencies in these vitamins are associated with decreases in male sex hormones. If you want to go beyond basic vitamins and minerals, your options broaden considerably: you can also look to include herbal compounds like maca root, yohimbe, and forskolin.
Q: What male enhancement pills are available over the counter?
A: Any male enhancement pill that does not contain controlled compounds like sildenafil (the active ingredient in Viagra) or tadalafil, the active ingredient in Cialis.
As long as pharmaceutical compounds are not in a product, it is legally able to be sold over the counter. Whether a product sold over the counter actually works is another matter—unlike with pharmaceutical drugs, there is no requirement that a supplement demonstrate efficacy before it’s sold on the market.
It’s best to check rankings and reviews to see which male enhancement pills actually work.
Q: Where do you buy male enhancement pills?
A: It’s not too hard to find male enhancement pills, but it is tricky to find good ones.
There’s no shortage of knockoff, low-quality male enhancement pills at truck stops, adult stores, and convenience stores, but these kinds of products are questionable to say the least. Many times, these imported brands are later found to be laced with unlisted compounds.
The best place to get reliable male enhancement pills is through online retailers that have user reviews, like Amazon. That way you’ll have a better idea whether a particular product works, and you can check out the ingredients before you try it.
Q: What happens if you stop taking male enhancement pills?
A: In the short term, if you have been relying on a male enhancement pill to elevate your nitric oxide production, you might notice a fairly rapid decrease in your ability to get and sustain an erection.
Aside from that, any other effects from discontinuing a male enhancement pill will appear more slowly. Ingredients meant to boost testosterone and growth hormone levels will fade out of your system within a few days, but you may not notice the decrease in male sex hormones for a week or more.
Likewise, if the mineral compounds in a male enhancement pill are responsible for keeping your testosterone high, it might be even longer–several weeks, perhaps–before your zinc, magnesium, or copper levels slip low enough to stop supporting optimal sex hormone levels.
Q: What should you do if a male enhancement pill doesn’t work?
A: Despite what marketing claims some companies might make, no male enhancement pill will work for everyone.
Some men don’t respond to male enhancement pills; these men may need to try a prescription medication like Viagra or Cialis.
Another reason you may not respond to a male enhancement pill is if you have an underlying medical problem that impedes your sexual function.
These can include heart disease, diabetes, or neurological issues. That means that if a male enhancement pill doesn’t seem to solve your problems, it would be a good idea to see your doctor and ask about potential underlying health problems.
Related: Our best male enhancement pill picks
A well-formulated male enhancement pill targets all aspects of male sexual performance and wellness: androgen levels, blood flow, energy levels, and sexual desire.
While there’s a lot of hype and fluff on the market, products with the right combination of vitamins, minerals, and herbal extracts really do stand a strong chance of helping improve erectile problems, lift your libido, and boost your sexual stamina.