white tablets and light brown pills

Gas Station Sex Pills: Why You Should Steer Clear


  • Gas station sex pills are largely unregulated, with a host of possible risks.
  • Even properly made supplements use ingredients that have not been shown to be effective for erectile dysfunction.
  • Talking with your doctor about ED and using prescription ED medication will be safer and more effective.

If you’ve ever wandered into a gas station, you’ve probably noticed packages of “male enhancement” pills, possibly with a rhino or a tiger on the front. And you’ve likely been left wondering just what they are and how they get away with such outrageous claims. The answer is they slip through gaps left in regulation and put the safety of their users at risk in the process.

What Are Gas Station Sex Pills?

Legally speaking, gas station sex pills are not drugs. They’re dietary or herbal supplements, so the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has limited authority over them. According to the FDA, dietary supplements:

  • Usually don’t need approval before they’re marketed
  • Are made by self-regulated manufacturers unless consumers report problems and trigger an FDA investigation
  • Are not regularly analyzed by the FDA

The regulatory dodges don’t stop there. You might notice the language on the packaging doesn’t mention erectile dysfunction or any other condition, just vague promises to “enhance your experience” or “improve your virility.” Explicit claims about treating a disease or condition trigger FDA reviews, so supplement makers are deliberately vague.

Another regulatory dodge is that these products don’t contain any ingredients that were marketed in the U.S. after 1994. Those are considered “new” dietary ingredients, which also trigger an FDA review.

All of this information applies to pills that are made in the United States. Those that are manufactured elsewhere may have even fewer consumer protections in place.

What Are the Ingredients in Gas Station Sex Pills?

man taking a pill in his car

There are a few “usual suspects” you’ll find on the label of your typical gas station sex pill, most of them drawn from various herbal medicine traditions across the world.

  • Epimedium sagittatum. Also called horny goat weed, this is a popular remedy for low libido in Chinese medicine. There may be a kernel of truth to these claims, as this herb contains a substance called icariin that shows some promise for cardiovascular purposes. But it’s still under study and unlikely to be available in herbal supplements in amounts large enough to be effective. 
  • Yohimbe. Similar to horny goat weed, the bark of this African evergreen contains small amounts of the chemical yohimbine and is often used in West African herbal medicine. While yohimbe may have some legitimate uses, it hasn’t been shown to be effective for ED on its own. Other studies have concluded that the risks of yohimbe outweigh any potential benefit.
  • Red ginseng. This is a type of ginseng that’s been steamed and dried, a process that would likely limit active chemicals in the herb. Either way, ginseng has only a “trivial” effect on ED.
  • Maca. Also called Peruvian ginseng, the jury is out on maca, but the evidence to this point isn’t promising.
  • Ginkgo biloba. Also a staple of traditional Chinese medicine, ginkgo biloba has struggled to do better than placebo in studies. A bigger problem is that high doses of ginkgo can have serious side effects, so even if it works, you probably shouldn’t be getting it from a gas station.

What Are the Risks of Gas Station Sex Pills?

blue pills

If being legally sketchy and containing ingredients that don’t generally work aren’t bad enough, these pills can also be dangerous — for a number of reasons:

  • Uncontrolled dosage. One of the reasons scientists have moved away from herbal medicine is that plants don’t have consistent amounts of active substances. Any herb will have a different chemical composition from year to year and depending on how it’s grown. This can mean that consuming a lot of it can have no results, or eating only a little can cause an overdose.
  • Side effects. Any active substance is going to have side effects, particularly if you can’t control the dose. Heavy doses of ginkgo biloba, for example, can raise your risk of bleeding and cause gastrointestinal problems.
  • Lack of quality control. There’s no way to know how or where these herbs were grown. Perhaps they were grown by an expert, or maybe a bunch of high school kids grew them in a vacant lot. Since there’s often no sourcing information and the supplement maker may not know themselves, there’s no way to know if they’ve been doused in pesticides, grown in polluted soil, or — in some cases — if it’s even the herb promised on the label.
  • Allergies. Allergies to yohimbe or horny goat weed are rare, but they happen. The lack of quality control can also introduce allergens, as these facilities could also be processing food items.
  • Tainting. By far the most common problem with herbal supplements, especially imported products, is that they’re often tainted with pharmaceuticals. Most commonly, “men’s health” supplements have PDE5 inhibitors — like sildenafil, the active ingredient in Viagra — hidden in them, in widely varying amounts. This can be a serious risk for men who can’t take sildenafil because of heart disease or concerns about blood pressure. It can also cause overdoses for men who take herbal supplements in addition to prescription ED drugs.

Spend Your Money and Your Time on ED Treatments That Workwhite pills

Men often turn to these treatments because they’re embarrassed to talk about ED with their doctor or their partner or just don’t want to get in line at the pharmacy. But the truth is that getting medication that’s been proven to work and thoroughly tested is easier, cheaper, and more discreet than you might think.

eDrugstore offers free telehealth consultations with licensed doctors and medical staff who can review your overall health and provide you with a prescription. You can order both brand-name and generic ED medication from companies you trust from eDrugstore’s secure site. 

Spend your hard-earned money on treatments that actually work. Learn more about how eDrugstore can help you get legitimate, FDA-approved help for ED on our erectile dysfunction page.


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