Are male enhancement supplements worth it?

November 17, 2009 4:10:33 AM PST
It's a taboo topic but male enhancement supplements have become a billion dollar business. Can they work and are they safe?

The advertisements pop up on computers, in Hollywood movies and are even touted by Nascar drivers on infomercials. "Extenz has been scientifically proven to increase a man's size, pleasure and performance."

But has any male enhancement supplement really been proven to work? First Action News went to an expert to find out what's in them?

"It's all garbage," said Dr. Ara DerMarderosian is an herbal expert at the University of the Sciences. He said ingredients in these supplements, such as L-arginine and horny goat weed are not based on science, they're based on legend and none have the ability to make men "get bigger, faster, get wider," as is claimed.

"Short of surgery, there's no way to increase the size of a penis anymore than you can increase the size of a finger, ear or nose," Dr. DerMarderosian said.

But still men are buying them. Urologist Dr. Bruce Sloane of Philadelphia Urology Associates isn't surprised.

"I have men come in and say I just don't like the way I look when I don't have an erection," he said, adding, "it's that desperation that drives the industry."

He said some companies get away with it with misleading claims. "One in particular said when you get an erection with this your penis will grow two to three inches... well hello? What happens when a guy gets an erection?"

Still for real solutions, Dr. Sloane says some men may be able to prevent shrinkage with prescribed testosterone. He says some men lose testosterone as they age and the level can be adjusted with medication. Surgery or approved medication such as Viagra or Cialis can help others with performance problems.

But if size is what matters, popping a pill most likely won't help and in some cases may be harmful.

"For the most part I think they're harmless supplements but again there's a big unknown. There are a lot of interactions between herbals and prescriptions that you have to be careful for," Dr. Sloane said.

Still if you're not taking anything else and want to try a supplement, if you think it will enlarge your confidence, go ahead, but don't believe the hype and try to focus on the positive.

"I always say to men, look this is what God gave you, if it's working be happy," Dr. Sloane said.

The supplements cost anywhere from $30 to $60. Action News called the makers of Enzyte and Extenze. They did not return our call for comment.

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