If you’re looking for a quick answer to this question, here you go: no. Absolutely not. Don’t even think about it. Keep it movin.’

Yes, past the lighters, past the gum, past the slush machine, past the celebrity gossip magazines. Walk calmly to the register, pay for your milk, those earplugs, and whatever else you’re buying at the gas station, and walk out the door. But whatever you do, please, please, do not – we repeat do not – buy the Black Mamba. Or the Herb Viagra. Or the PowerZen. Or the ExtenZe. Or any kind of ‘Rhino’ pill.


Three reasons: gas station sex pills are unapproved. Gas station sex pills are unsafe. And gas station sex pills don’t work. There’s really no upside here – unless you consider a splitting headache, nausea, and diarrhea a good time. The truth is these pills offer men with Erectile Dysfunction (ED) more hype than hope – and instead of giving you a raging hard-on, they’ll most likely leave you with a hangover. Let’s discuss.

Gas Station Sex Pills Are Unapproved

The fact that gas station sex pills are unapproved means they have not been tested and vouched for by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA), and remain an unregulated health product. Because they are classified as “herbal supplements,” they evade FDA scrutiny.

This means no one can make any credible statements about what’s in these pills, whether they work or if they’re safe (but that doesn’t stop the manufacturers, often overseas players, from making these claims all the time in an effort to increase sales).

So? What’s the big deal, you ask?

Aren’t vitamins and other dietary supplements also not strongly regulated by the FDA?

While this is true, the vast, vast majority of dietary supplements, especially common vitamins, are safe, and the FDA has not issued warnings against their consumption. That’s not the case with gas station sex pills, however, with the FDA – and plenty of others – warning about their dangers. Taking them is akin to going to a restaurant with a sign out front that says ‘This restaurant is not up to code. Enter at own risk.’ Except we’re not even talking about your tummy here – we’re talking about your manhood. That’s quite the gamble you’re taking with your oldest friend.

But let’s back up a second – what are these sex pills and what do they claim to do?

These are pills almost exclusively sold in gas station convenience stores that make all sorts of unproven claims – they promise to increase the size of your penis, to give you hours (and sometimes days!) of erection, to deliver mind-blowing, long-lasting sex, and to cap you off with the best orgasm of your life.

If you’re a man struggling with ED who just wants a quick fix, you might be thinking, ‘sign me up.’ Not so fast, mate – those claims are just not true. And if you buy these, your penis may just be the guinea pig. You'll want to seek the assistance of a board-certified urologist for an ED solution designed especially for your body.

ed diagram mens health

Gas Station Sex Pills Are Unsafe

Because these pills are unregulated by the FDA, the manufacturers are not obliged to list their ingredients on the package – and indeed, they don’t! Some brands list some ingredients but not others, and other brands don’t list any at all. Many brands, like ‘Herb Viagra,’ for example, claim to be ‘natural’ penile and sexual enhancers that treat ED.

Since they are ‘natural,’ they should be even safer than their pharma counterparts Viagra and Cialis, right? Wrong.

An investigation by the FDA that prompted a warning against consuming Herb Viagra in 2015 found the pills contained sildenafil, Viagra’s active ingredient. This is an issue because it’s illegal, but also because it’s dangerous when not listed as an ingredient.

Sildenafil, which works by keeping penile blood vessels dilated, causing prolonged erection, is also a known hypertension drug (meaning it helps lower blood pressure). For men who are already on blood pressure medication, for example, sildenafil could bring blood pressure to dangerously low levels, the FDA warned. (In 2017 the FDA issued six more warnings on gas station sex pills, and has continued to warn against them routinely since). Oh and the gas station sex pills that aren’t laced with Viagra’s main ingredient are laced with tadalafil, the main ingredient in Cialis – again illegal and dangerous.

What’s more is that even the herbs listed or found in these gas station sex pills are untested on humans and unproven to treat ED – and in some cases, they are unsafe.

In addition to headaches and blood pressure fluctuations, the ingredients found in gas station sex pills can cause insomnia, hypertension and sweating. According to research, ginseng can cause constipation, rash, and be dangerous for diabetics. Plus, ginko biloba can cause seizures and one study on L-arginine was linked to the death of six people!

Gas Station Sex Pills Don’t Work

So we’ve determined the pills are not backed by any regulatory body and contain hidden and dangerous ingredients. What else is a big bummer about them? How about the fact that they don’t work? Oh yeah, that too!

Let’s take for example the ingredients red ginseng and L-arginine – both lack scientific evidence showing they help ED. As for Yohimbine, while there is some evidence it may increase sex drive, it’s got some super scary side effects. Then there’s a pill called Nizagara, which, in addition to containing sildenafil, contains L-arginine, redberry, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, and folic acid – none of these have been tested on humans for ED or been proven to work.

Essentially, the claims made on the packaging of these gas station sex pills are completely unsubstantiated. But don’t take our word for it. Take the word of a Men’s Health reporter who put his own manhood on the line to bravely try out five of these gas station sex pills – for the sake of good journalism, that is.

What did he find? You can read the entire hilarious and disturbing account here, but here’s the gist: after taking ExtenZe, the writer felt an unpleasant sensitivity in his penis and got “disturbingly hyperactive.” Later that night, when it was time for sex with his wife, his “bedroom performance didn’t seem much different at all.”

The second pill he took, on a different day, was Vigor-A, and he experienced “a strange buzz…combined with the urge to projectile vomit.” That night, he experienced “zero boner effect” and “a soft and soggy penis.”

The third was PowerZen Triple Gold, which contain both Viagra’s and Cialis’ active ingredients. Taking a pill resulted in the author having to take an “explosive liquid poo” that resolved just in time to allow him to have “mind-blowing sex” with his wife. “But,” he wrote, “I’m still not sure it was worth the decommissioning of the restaurant bathroom.”

The fourth was Herb Viagra, which he said had very little effect whatsoever. Finally, he took ExtenZe Extended Release, which caused nausea and “a horrible sneezing fit,” followed by chills, sweating, and fatigue.

“Ultimately,” he wrote, “these gas station dick pills didn't make me feel healthy, nor did they imbue me with pinch-me-I-must-be-dreaming vigor and life. In fact, from the nausea to the cold, sweaty palms to the feeling that my heart was exploding, the effects were pretty terrible.”

How Can I Treat ED Instead of Gas Station Sex Pills?

Now that we’ve determined that the pills are unregulated, unsafe, and ineffective, let’s talk about ways you can safely and reliably deal with ED. First, know that ED is very common; in fact, ED affects about one in four men, so you’re definitely not alone.

Though you may be embarrassed to go to the doctor to admit you have ED (defined as the inability to get or keep an erection for the duration of sexual intercourse), you don’t have to be. Chances are the doctor already had a patient come in for the same reason that week (or that day!) or has even been diagnosed with ED himself.

The best professional for men with ED is a board-certified urologist, who is an expert in treating ED. A urologist can offer multiple treatment paths for ED, including writing a prescription for the good, safe stuff – Viagra or Cialis. Other treatments include penile injection therapy, penile implants or a vacuum erection device.

Safe and Effective Treatments for ED

Natural remedies for erectile dysfunction

If you want something you can try at home, give exercise a go. Exercise and maintaining a healthy weight improves circulation to your penis, helping it stay up longer and harder. You can also try to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles, which can improve sexual performance by pumping more blood into your penis (check out some how-to videos on YouTube). Finally, try to quit smoking, limit drinking and reduce stress, all of which can restore blood flow to your penis. Oh and – don’t stop sexin’: the more you use it, the better the chances you won’t lose it.

Medical treatments for erectile dysfunction

Just remember – no matter what you do, do not, we repeat do not, resort to gas station sex pills. Seriously.