Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Men's Health

Font Size

Buying ED Drugs Online: What’s the Risk?

"You can get hard without expensive prescription drugs that have dangerous side effects!"

It's a familiar claim among sellers of online erectile dysfunction (ED) drugs -- and there are a lot of them. A search for "buy erectile dysfunction drugs" brings up nearly 22 million web sites.

Recommended Related to Men

10 Health Benefits of Regular Exercise for Men

Terry Waters, a former college wrestler and baseball player, loved working out. He got real pleasure out of pushing himself hard at the gym, and he liked the feeling of tired but virtuous afterwards. He figured regular physical activity and its health benefits would always be a part of his life. Then came marriage, three kids, a demanding job as a software engineer in Boston — and a thousand and one excuses not to make it to the gym. “For a little while, you convince yourself you’re still in pretty...

Read the 10 Health Benefits of Regular Exercise for Men article > >

On these sites, you can order medications like Cialis (tadalafil), Levitra and Staxyn (vardenafil), Stendra (avanafil), and Viagra (sildenafil) without a prescription. Or, you can get a "natural" herbal remedy that promises to give you the same results. Often these drugs cost far less than they would at your local pharmacy. Buying online also lets you bypass the embarrassment of having to discuss your erection problems with a doctor.

But are ED drugs purchased online safe? Experts say think twice before you buy.

The Truth About ED Drugs Sold Online

The erectile dysfunction drugs and herbal remedies you buy online aren't always what they seem. An FDA investigation found that more than one-third of "dietary supplements" sold for ED actually contained prescription drugs, including sildenafil, the active ingredient in Viagra. Some ED drugs sold online contained entirely different medicines, such as the antibiotic metronidazole and the fertility drug clomiphene.  

Even if a drug contains the right medicine, it may not be the right dosage. When samples of 100-milligram Viagra tablets purchased online were tested, only 10% were even close to the advertised strength.   

When you buy from an unknown company, you run the risk of getting counterfeit medicines. By some estimates, more than half of all ED drugs sold online are fakes. Some of these drugs include ingredients you wouldn't want to put in your body -- things like talcum powder, paint, and printer ink.  

The FDA warns of several ED drugs in particular that contain harmful hidden ingredients, including:

  • Adam Free
  • Actra-Rx
  • Actra-Sx
  • Blue Steel
  • Energy Max
  • HS Joy of Love
  • Lady Shanghai
  • Libidus
  • Liviro3
  • Man Up Now
  • Nasutra
  • NaturalUP
  • Neophase
  • Shanghai Ultra
  • True Man
  • Vigor-25
  • Zimaxx

Health Risks of Online Drugs

Erectile dysfunction drugs such as Cialis, Levitra, Staxyn, Stendra, and Viagra work by increasing blood flow to the penis. Just like any other medicine, these drugs can have side effects.

A real drug masquerading as an herbal remedy can be dangerous -- even life-threatening. Take the drug sildenafil, which the FDA says is hidden in some natural ED treatments sold online; if you're already using nitrates for heart disease, sildenafil can lead to a dangerous drop in blood pressure. In 2008, 150 people in Singapore were hospitalized for low blood pressure after taking ED drugs. Doctors discovered that the drugs actually contained a large dose of the diabetes medicine, glyburide.   

ED drugs can be especially dangerous for people with certain conditions, especially heart disease. They can also cause side effects or interact with other medicines you're taking, such as blood thinners and some alpha blockers, which are used to treat high blood pressure and prostate conditions. These are issues your doctor needs to discuss with you when you get a prescription.

WebMD Medical Reference

Today on WebMD

Life Cycle of a Penis
Slideshow
Preacher Curl
Slideshow
 
testosterone molecule
Article
Xray of foot highlighting gout
Slideshow
 
Food Men 10 Foods Boost Male Health
Slideshow
Thoughtful man sitting on bed
Quiz
 
Man taking blood pressure
Slideshow
doctor holding syringe
Slideshow
 
Condom Quiz
Quiz
thumbnail_angry_couple_in_bed
Slideshow
 
man running
Quiz
older couple in bed
Video