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Male Enhancement: Is It Worth a Try?

Nonpresciption methods of male enhancement and male enlargement range from the possibly effective to the downright dangerous.

Herbs and Male Enhancement

Thousands of years before Viagra, men were consuming everything from horny goat weed to powdered rhino horn in hopes of boosting sexual performance. The remedies persist for men who can't get their hands on prescription drugs like Viagra or who prefer "natural" cures.

But many doctors are wary of traditional medicines. When Boyle's patients come to her with bottles of herbal supplements, she tells them she cannot vouch for their safety or effectiveness unless the FDA has reviewed the claims on the label.

No herbal remedy can restore erections like Viagra and its prescription counterparts, says Steven Lamm, MD, an assistant professor of medicine at New York University and author of The Hardness Factor. But Lamm says these remedies may be appropriate for men who have experienced a decline in sexual performance but do not suffer from a diagnosable sexual problem. Lamm has endorsed an herbal remedy, marketed under the Roaring Tiger label, that combines horny goat weed and other herbal extracts with the amino acid L-arginine. (The supplements are made by the same company that makes the FastSize Extender.)

The Way to Happiness in Bed

The Internet is rife with scammers who seek to prey on men's insecurities, Levine says. "All the pills, topical creams, and gels are worthless. Many men would clearly rather spend $20, $50, $100 on the Internet than go to the doctor and get real information."

In some cases, men are harming themselves in the pursuit of a bigger penis. Levine cites "jelqing," a technique involving hours and hours of intense stroking. He says he has patients who have developed Peyronie's disease due to violent stretching of the penis through jelqing.

It's ironic that the male preoccupation with enhancement seems to be independent of the needs of women, the supposed benefactors of improved sexual performance. A recent study found that 85% of women are pleased with their partner's penis proportions, but 45% of men say they want a larger penis. Given that the vast majority of men fall within a certain penis size -- about 5.5 to 6.2 inches long when erect -- most men fall within the normal range.

And there's plenty of debate on whether size matters at all. The most sensitive nerves in the vagina are found close to the surface, Lamm notes, and the clitoris is found on the vagina's outside. So there should be plenty of ways to satisfy your partner that have nothing to do with pills, creams, surgery, or devices.

(Have you tried or considered trying a male enhancement product? Talk about it on the Men's Health: Man to Man message board.)

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Reviewed on September 14, 2007

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