Last year, it was reported that professional MMA fighter Jon Jones failed his UFC 200 drug test, leading to him being banned from the event and missing out on a rumored eight-figure payday. The culprit behind his failed test? A drug similar to the erection pill Cialis, a.k.a. a “generic boner booster,” according to MMAMania.
Since Jones’s ban, I’ve been a bit curious about whether these male sexual enhancement drugs are really all they’re cracked up to be, or if their effects are merely the stuff of lore. As a journalist, I feel it is my duty to try every self-improvement, self-enhancement, and self-experimentation method out there: in the past, I’ve tried drugstore hangover treatments, used acoustic sound wave therapy on my junk, and even injected my penis to get stronger erections. Why would trying these supplements be any different?
So, armed with a baseball cap, dark sunglasses, and a hoodie, I ventured out into my hometown of Spokane, Washington to purchase a few of these so-called “gas station dick pills” myself. I figured that, for the good of men everywhere, I would be willing to put my liver, kidneys, and crotch on the line. (Ed. Note: Men’s Health does not endorse taking any supplements or medication without approval from your physician.)
First, I started looking up whether these drugs were actually safe to use. For the most part, the answer appears to be “nope”: in 2017, for instance, the FDA actually issued alerts for six different male sexual enhancement products, all of which contained potentially harmful ingredients, with zero mention of said ingredients appearing on the actual product labels. These alerts were added to the list of many othersexual enhancement products that contain hidden ingredients, including tadalafil, the active ingredient in Cialis, and sildenafil, the active ingredients in Viagra. This is in addition to all the other “natural” ingredients on the labels of these supplements, which also happen to be untested, unstudied, and certainly not FDA-approved.
I reached out to various labs to ask if they’d do a chemical analysis of these pills, just to find out what, exactly, I’d be putting in my body. Every lab I spoke to refused, but I did discover one useful set of guidelines from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which warned consumers to beware of ED/sexual enhancement products that “promise quick results (within 30 to 40 minutes),””advertise via spam or unsolicited emails,” or “have labels written primarily in a foreign language.” Unsurprisingly, every item in my little plastic bag satisfied each and every one of these criteria.
Nonetheless, I decided to carry on with my experiment. Armed with my FDA warnings, my gas station dick pills, and a mild amount of nervousness twitching in my nether regions, I proceeded with five consecutive days of gas-station dick pill-chugging. Below are my home lab notes, in all their glory.
DAY 1: EXTENZE MALE ENHANCEMENT
In 2013, the FDA issued a consumer warning about a counterfeit version of ExtenZe supplements labeled “ExtenZe Maximum Strength” (also known as Extended Release). In its warning, the FDA said the counterfeit product contains sildenafil, which could potentially interact with nitrates found in some prescription drugs, putting men with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or a history of heart disease at risk. Even the original ExtenZe has been purported to be potentially harmful as it contains Yohimbe bark extract, which has been associated with heart attacks and seizures.
An hour after I popped this bright blue capsule, my dick felt sensitive, but not in a good way — rather, in an achy, something-doesn’t-quite-feel-right-down-there sort of way. Perhaps the achiness was due to the massive amounts of blood surging into my crotch, but whatever it was, I didn’t enjoy the feeling. Also, within an hour of taking it, I got disturbingly hyperactive, almost the way I would feel after 3 or 4 cups of coffee. Per instructions on the label, I took it in the morning, but that night my bedroom performance didn’t seem much different at all. Had I taken it right before having sex, it would have likely kept me up until 2:00 or 3:00 a.m., twitching like a horny hummingbird and annoying my wife.
DAY 2: VIGOR-A
I couldn’t find any FDA warnings about this specific product, so I assumed it was likely on the safer side. But just fifteen minutes after taking it (again, in the morning, per the instructions on the package instructions), I felt a strange buzz that can best be described as a cerebral sensation, combined with the urge to projectile vomit. I was quite nauseous after breakfast, but it didn’t last long. The strange effects seemed to wear off pretty quickly, much faster than they had with ExtenZe.
That said, I experienced zero boner effect that night. Despite the package’s promises of delivering “erotic pleasure”, “stimulating arousal,” (plus my favorite, “really works”), I had a soft and soggy penis. I suspect this is because Vigor-A took full effect in the morning, then wore off by the evening, leaving my nether regions exhausted from shuttling about all that blood. “Really works,” indeed.
DAY 3: POWERZEN TRIPLE GOLD
The FDA advises consumers not to purchase PowerZen Triple Gold because of it contains three hidden ingredients: sildenafil, tadalafil and dapoxetine. (The dapoxetine in this supplement is an active ingredient not approved by the FDA, so its safety and efficacy haven’t yet been established.)
For PowerZen, I decided to change my strategy of consuming my dick pill in the morning. Instead, I popped this one right before my big weekly evening date with my wife. I immediately tasted something bitter in my mouth and squirmed with GI distress during the first hour of our romantic outing, after which I excused myself to the bathroom for a massive, explosive liquid poo that required half the toilet paper roll to clean either side of my burning ass cheeks. I emerged from the bathroom feeling much better, even though I craved a Pedialyte over a glass of Pinot Noir.
Thankfully, within an hour the stomach issues had completely subsided and I was back at home with my wife, having mind-blowing sex. Yep, we’re talking “I-hope-I-didn’t-blow-out-the-condom, can’t-pee-for-hours, who-slipped-Viagra-into-my-Pellegrino” sex. But I’m still not sure it was worth the decommissioning of the restaurant bathroom.
Related: 10 Bogus Facts About Erectile Dysfunction
DAY 4: HERB VIAGRA
The instructions on the packages of these dick pills are often quite hilarious, and Herb Viagra is no exception; it’s advertised as a “lasting affect spermary preparation with distinct male hormone character protein assimilation and stimulating medulla creating blood function.” (For what it’s worth, the FDA advises consumersnot to purchase herbal Viagra because it contains sildenafil.)
Despite the package’s claim that a single pill takes effect for 2-3 days, I really didn’t notice much, aside from a bit more vascularity in my arms, my legs and my dick, and a quick check-in with Merriam-Webster to verify that spermary is indeed a known word in the dictionary (turns out it is “an organ in which spermatozoa are generated”).
DAY 5: EXTENZE MALE ENHANCEMENT EXTENDED RELEASE VERSION
As I suspected from my experience with the “original” Extenze formula, this one was pretty powerful, but not in a pleasant, romantic, sexual way. An hour after taking it, I got nauseous and came down with a horrible sneezing fit. I was cold and clammy, my hands got extremely sweaty, and I couldn’t finish my daily workout; instead, I had to lie down in the sauna. I certainly didn’t feel like having sex.
Ultimately, 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. In the future, if I want to add a little extra in the bedroom, I’ll stick to a cup of coffee and some beet root juice, thank you very much.