The 4 Best Over the Counter ED Medications

May 28, 2021

While most of the popular and effective medications to treat erectile dysfunction are available by prescription only, some over-the-counter options do exist.

For example, Viagra® is arguably the most popular treatment for erectile dysfunction ever, but it's only available with a prescription from a doctor. 

Do supplements work? What are the best over the counter ED medications? 

What is Erectile Dysfunction?

Erectile dysfunction, more commonly referred to as ED, is when a man has difficulty achieving or maintaining an erection long enough and firm enough for sexual intercourse. 

While it's challenging to know the exact number of men who experience ED since only a portion will seek treatment or medical care for the condition, it’s estimated that about 30 million American men have ED. Other statistics suggest as many as 50% of guys over 40 will experience ED at some time.

Depending on what's causing the ED, it may affect which treatment is most effective. Some of the common causes of erectile dysfunction include:

  • Alcoholism and other substance abuse disorders
  • Clogged blood vessels (atherosclerosis)
  • Depression, anxiety, or other similar mental health conditions
  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Low testosterone
  • Metabolic syndrome, which may involve increase blood pressure, high levels of insulin, body fat around the wait, and high cholesterol
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Obesity
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Peyronie’s disease, which can lead to scar tissue inside the penis
  • Relationships problems
  • Sleeping disorders
  • Some prescription medications
  • Stress
  • Surgeries or injuries to the pelvic area or spine
  • Tobacco use
  • Treatment for prostate cancer or an enlarged prostate

4 Over the Counter Treatments for ED

Depending on the root cause of the erectile dysfunction, some of these treatments may not be particularly effective. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean they don't have some grounding in science.

For instance, ginseng has been used as an effective aphrodisiac for centuries and may improve sexual performance. But if ED is the result of diabetes, insomnia, alcoholism, or some other underlying condition, it may not be effective. 

The most effective way to treat ED is with the help of a licensed physician who can identify underlying medical conditions and prescribe medication, if necessary.

Nevertheless, these are some of the best over the counter treatments for erectile dysfunction:


Ginseng has long been used in alternative medicine, particularly as an aphrodisiac. Although it’s known by several names including Korean red ginseng, Chinese ginseng, and Panax ginseng, some studies have shown that it might be an effective treatment for symptoms related to erectile dysfunction. 

One study from 2012 split 119 men that were experiencing erectile dysfunction into two groups. One group would receive four ginseng supplements daily, with each pill containing a 350 milligram dosage of ginseng berry extract, with the other group receiving a placebo. 

Over the course of the two-month experiment, the group that was taking the ginseng reported improvements in erectile function, sexual desire, and sexual satisfaction. While these results prove that ginseng has several potential benefits, it should be noted that men receiving the placebo reported a similar improvement in the same categories. 

Another strain of ginseng, known as tissue culture mountain ginseng 100, has been found to help relax muscles located in the penis, which can lead to stronger and longer-lasting erections. 

Another study had 52 men being given a combination of ginseng and vitamin D. Results of the study concluded that this might be an effective treatment of erectile dysfunction, when compared to the effects of a placebo. 

More research is needed as to whether or not ginseng can be an effective treatment for erectile dysfunction in the right dosage and concentration, but as of now the prospects seem good. Precisely how much and how often remains to be seen.  


Dehydroepiandrosterone, abbreviated DHEA, is a hormonal steroid found in soy and yams. 

According to some studies, low levels of DHEA are commonly associated with an elevated risk of developing erectile dysfunction. Additionally, other research has stated that ingesting DHEA can help to relieve some of the symptoms commonly associated with erectile dysfunction, so long as it’s not a symptom of diabetes or another nerve disorder. 

More research is still needed to definitively conclude whether or not DHEA could be a potential treatment for erectile dysfunction, but there is a clear relationship between the hormone and sexual health. 


Another supplement that may help with ED by stimulating penile blood flow, is yohimbe. This supplement can promote the production of norepinephrine, which is a neurotransmitter that is vital to achieving erections. 

Research has shown that it can help to improve both orgasmic function and ejaculation in men. Yohimbe may also be known by the name of its most active ingredient, yohimbine. 

It’s important to note that yohimbe has been linked to a number of side effects, including an increased heart rate and high blood pressure. As a result, some medical experts are hesitant to recommend it, and it may be a good idea to talk with a doctor before trying it.


L-arginine is an amino acid that may help to treat erectile dysfunction due to its tendency to increase blood flow to the penis. Because of L-arginine’s effect on nitric oxide in the nerves, it may be beneficial during the process of getting and maintaining an erection. 

Some of the most successful experiments that have touted the benefits of L-arginine as an ED treatment combined it with other drugs, such as glutamate and yohimbine. 

Another potentially effective treatment is when it’s combined with French maritime pine bark extract. Possible side effects of L-arginine may include mild cramping and nausea. 

More research and larger studies will need to be done before the Food and Drug Administration is willing to approve it as an effective treatment for ED.

The Takeaway: When considering the best over the counter treatments for erectile dysfunction, make sure that you're not using something that could be dangerous. There are lots of “dietary supplements” available that claim to help fight ED, but they are not vetted by the FDA and can be dangerous. If you don’t want to visit a doctor, research the product you are considering first, and make sure it’s safe for you to use. Or, consider a virtual physician consult with Rex MD.

When it comes to treating erectile dysfunction, it’s hard to argue with the effectiveness of prescription medications, which have proven to work in millions of men globally for twenty years. If you're looking for an over the counter treatment option, there are plenty available, but make sure they are what they claim to be, and understand that FDA approval is the gold standard in medication effectiveness. So-called “dietary supplements” are not blessed by the FDA.

If you have questions or want to know if prescription medications are right for you, get started with a Rex MD consultation today, with affordable ED meds shipped to your door, if prescribed.

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Disclaimer : This article is for information only and should not be considered medical advice. Always speak with your doctor about your health and the benefits or risks of any treatment or intervention. This information should not be relied on as a substitute for professional medical advice.