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Stay Away From Natural Sex Supplements, Experts Warn

Update Date: May 14, 2013 02:30 PM EDT

People should not buy sexual enhancement supplements because they may contain undisclosed prescription drugs that could cause serious harm, according to researchers.

While the ads on sex supplements claim that the products improve sexual function, experts at Harvard Medical School said that there is actually no scientific evidence to suggest that the products are effective.

Experts say that these products can also cause serious harm because they sometimes contain secretly added prescription medication like Viagra or Cialis or other slightly modified experimental versions of existing drugs, which have not been shown to be safe. Dr. Pieter Cohen, an assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and a general internist at Cambridge Health Alliance in Boston told Live Science that manufacturers add these drugs to the supplements so that customers continue to use the product.

And even if they supplements are legitimate medications, they can cause harmful side effects like low blood pressure if accidentally taken with another medication.

"These products either do not work, or if they do work, are potentially harmful," because they undisclosed drugs, Cohen told Live Science.

Four years ago sexual enhancement supplements laced with high doses of diabetes medication led to the deaths of more than 12 people in Asia. To avoid a similar situation, Cohen is calling greater regulation of these potentially dangerous supplements.  He added that doctors should also be encouraged to prescribe medications to men concerned about erectile dysfunction so they will not be tempted to resort to sex supplements.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has warned consumers that supplements are only monitored only after they enter the market, which means the agency is not able to test all of these sex supplements for safety. 

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