The Risks of Over the Counter Sexual Supplements

The Risks of Over the Counter Sexual Supplements

 Before the end of 2021, a sexual enhancement drug Herberex was seized by Health Canada from multiple Vancouver sex shops because it was discovered to have Nortadalafil in it. Nortadalafil is an unauthorized additive that can help with erectile concerns and should only be used under the supervision of a healthcare professional.

Unfortunately, Herberex is not the only sexual supplement that we have to keep an eye on, and Nortadalfil is not the only dangerous, unregulated compound that can be added to these enhancers.

Supplements that are often sold in sex toy stores, drug stores, online, etc., are commonly perceived to be generic brands of Viagra and/or Cialis. I previously assumed that maybe these products weren’t as controlled as Viagra, but that they were still reliable, safe, and effective. Unfortunately, this is not true for a number of reasons. At the Traveling Tickle Trunk we do not sell products like this because there is no regulation and no way to know what is actually in the tablets. When getting these supplements from anyone that isn’t your doctor or pharmacist, you are facing a number of risks including,

  • The stated ingredients are missing and the supplement is ineffective
  • It contains much more of the active ingredient than stated and is dangerous
  • It uses ‘filler substances’ that are often not listed which you may be allergic to, or are unfit for human consumption.


Even if these sexual supplements were the exact same formula as Viagra or Cialis but packaged differently, it would still be risky to consume them without consulting your doctor. Erectile concerns can be associated with other medical issues that should be addressed, these supplements can have dangerous interactions with other medications, and Viagra has a direct effect on your cardiovascular system (it was initially designed and studied to treat high blood pressure). So before a doctor prescribes these, they evaluate patients for potential drug interactions and warn them of potential side effects and things to watch out for. This evaluation does not happen when you buy sexual supplements off the internet or in a store.

Legitimate pharmaceuticals pass rigorous standards and undergo large, randomized trials before being approved for the public. It is a massive process. After passing all the trials, medications are manufactured under heavily monitored conditions in facilities that are held to high cleanliness standards. Counterfeit medications bypass all these safeguards - it’s highly unlikely that a supplement called “Hard Wang” (that is an actual name of one of the many thousand counterfeit sexual supplements) follows the same protocols in an unregulated industry.

This industry exists because there is such a demand for it - people want quick fixes for sexuality concerns and it is a topic many may feel ashamed of, so they don’t want to talk to their doctor. Because there is such a high demand and manufacturers know that people will buy their product regardless of what they put in them, often cheap fillers or bulking agents are added (or are the main ingredients) in order to increase the profit margin. Manufacturers can get away with this because the industry is largely unregulated. In Canada, Health Canada does their best to regulate these products but so many of them come into the country in various ways that what often happens is that they are seized after they have already turned up on store shelves.


Additionally, these drugs are commonly viewed to be recreational, which gives people the perception that they do not pose any serious risks, giving a false sense of safety when getting from places other than the doctor’s office. Counterfeit sexual supplements are not safe or predictable. At best you may experience a placebo effect and believe it is working for you. At worst, an unlisted ingredient in the product can cause serious side effects.

If you see these supplements at a sex toy store, supplement store, or online, please do not buy them. If you would like or need medication please consult with your doctor and get a prescription for the real thing.

- By Erica Van Kuppeveld