Reviewed by Kristin Hall, FNP
Written by Our Editorial Team
If you’ve ever searched for male enhancement products, or if you’re a fan of ridiculous late-night infomercials, you’ve probably heard of ExtenZe®.
ExtenZe is marketed as a “male enhancement” supplement that’s designed to increase sexual pleasure and performance, boost your stamina and enhance your testosterone production and male vitality.
While these claims are appealing, the science behind ExtenZe isn’t very reliable and there’s no evidence that it’s effective at treating erectile dysfunction or other sexual issues.
There’s also some controversy about ExtenZe’s marketing practices, purported benefits and the use of unlabeled, potentially dangerous ingredients in this supplement.
Below, we’ve explained what exactly ExtenZe is and whether or not it works as a treatment for erectile dysfunction. We’ve also dug into the history of ExtenZe male enhancement pills, particularly its association with questionable claims about sexual performance benefits and penis size enhancement.
Finally, we’ve listed several proven, evidence-based treatment options that you can use to treat erectile dysfunction and improve your sexual performance.
ExtenZe is a supplement that’s marketed as a male enhancement product to improve just about every aspect of your sexual performance, from pleasure to stamina, energy, vitality and more.
Despite these marketing claims, there’s no scientific evidence to show that ExtenZe is effective at treating erectile dysfunction. Likewise, there’s no evidence that ExtenZe improves other aspects of sexual function or performance in men.
In fact, the company that makes and markets ExtenZe has been sued several times for making unsubstantiated advertising claims about its product’s effects.
And not only are they ineffective, but investigations by the FDA show that ExtenZe and other male enhancement pills contain unlisted, potentially dangerous ingredients, including prescription ED treatments such as sildenafil.
And yes — before you ask — sildenafil is the main ingredient in Viagra, too. But — and this is a big but — like all other prescription drugs, it’s only safe when taken under the direct supervision of a healthcare provider. There’s no way of knowing how much sildenafil ExtenZe and other gas station sex pills actually contain.
We’ve all seen those infomercials. You know, the ones about the “simple capsule” that’s proven to increase your penis size, help you last longer and essentially, give you the ability for a porn-star-level sexual performance a few minutes after you take it.
ExtenZe is one of the most well-known sex supplements for men. It’s been on the market since the early 2000s and, thanks to its relentless marketing — the company even sponsored its own NASCAR car in the 2010s — is certainly hard to avoid.
Like other male enhancement supplements, ExtenZe has made some pretty bold claims about its effects over the years.
When it first came onto the market, most of ExtenZe’s marketing focused on its supposed ability to make your penis bigger. Think of those “increase your penis size by 27%” emails that used to occasionally escape your spam box.
These days, ExtenZe claims to offer a variety of sex-related benefits, including:
Better blood flow to the erectile chambers inside your penis, meaning bigger and harder erections
Increased penis size, both in terms of length and girth
Enhanced sexual pleasure and performance, resulting in more enjoyable sex
An “awesome sex life that will turn your bedroom into a house of pleasure”
ExtenZe is available as tablets and oral gel caps and is sold by most drugstores and stores that offer sexual wellness supplements. It’s sold in several formulations, and while new products seem to be launched and discontinued often, some of the ones you might see include:
ExtenZe Extended Release
ExtenZe Maximum Strength
ExtenZe Original Formula
ExtenZe With Testosterone Boost
Of all the unregulated sexual enhancement supplements on the market, ExtenZe makes some of the boldest claims out there. It also has one of the most controversial histories — something we’ve discussed a little further down the page.
Like with other sexual enhancement supplements that promise bigger erections and better sex, the science doesn’t add up when it comes to ExtenZe.
Now, ExtenZe is a popular supplement and some users might report anecdotal benefits for their sexual performance, even if these are just placebo responses. But that doesn’t mean it “works.”
There are no clinical trials or peer-reviewed studies in major scientific journals that look at the effectiveness of ExtenZe as a penis size enhancer, or as treatment for erectile dysfunction or other sexual performance issues.
One related thing to know is that the company behind ExtenZe, Biotab Nutraceuticals, has been subject to legal action several times for false advertising and other questionable marketing practices.
In 2011, the company agreed to pay a $1.75 million fine for engaging in misleading advertising by claiming without any evidence that ExtenZe could increase penis size.
One year earlier, the company settled a deceptive advertising class action lawsuit for $6 million without admitting any wrongdoing.
The previous company behind ExtenZe also dealt with legal action. In 2006, it paid out $300,000 in civic penalties after making unsubstantiated claims that ExtenZe pills could increase average penis size by 27 percent.
That’s pretty convincing evidence that ExtenZe might not do what it claims to do for your sex life.
ExtenZe contains several active ingredients, some of which may affect certain aspects of your sexual health and performance, including:
Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA). DHEA is a steroid hormone precursor that’s used by your body to create androgens like testosterone and dihydrotestosterone (DHT). Because of DHEA’s effects on testosterone levels, it’s listed as a banned substance by the World Anti-Doping Agency.
Pregnenolone. Pregnenolone is also a precursor hormone that’s used by your body to create testosterone, estrogen and other hormones. It’s often marketed for its supposed ability to increase other hormone levels, although research on this topic is mixed.
Yohimbe. Yohimbe is a natural ingredient made from the bark of a tree native to central and western Africa. It contains the ingredient yohimbine, which is often promoted as an athletic performance booster. This ingredient has been associated with several serious side effects, including heart attacks and seizures. In the US, marketing products that contain yohimbe without approval from the FDA (which ExtenZe has yet to receive) is illegal.
Tribulus. Tribulus is another herbal ingredient. It’s often used in male enhancement and fitness supplements due to its supposed benefits for building muscle mass and boosting testosterone levels. Although some research has shown that tribulus may increase testosterone levels when it’s used with other ingredients, there’s very little research into its effects on its own.
Korean ginseng. Korean ginseng, or Asian ginseng, is a popular herbal folk ingredient that’s believed to improve cardiovascular health and act as an energy booster.
Although some research has suggested that Korean red ginseng may help to treat ED, both the quality and quantity of existing research is limited.
L-arginine. L-arginine is an amino acid that’s marketed as a natural option for improving blood flow. Research suggests that l-arginine, when used with other ingredients, may be effective at improving sexual function in men with ED.
Gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA). GABA is a neurotransmitter that’s responsible for inhibiting activity in your brain. It’s widely available as a nutritional supplement, although the effects of supplemental GABA on mood and sexual performance aren’t clear.
Many ExtenZe supplements also contain inactive ingredients, including titanium dioxide, food dyes and preservatives.
If you’re considering ExtenZe, you can read the ingredients list on the product’s packaging to check its contents.
We talked above about the ingredients ExtenZe does list on its label. Now, let's talk about what's beneath the surface.
Over the years, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has investigated ExtenZe pills several times and found that ExtenZe products often contain unlabeled ingredients.
Unlabeled ingredients are a major safety issue, as they can cause interactions when used with certain medications and other products.
According to the FDA, the unlabeled sildenafil found in ExtenZe Plus may “interact with nitrates found in some prescription drugs” and “may lower blood pressure to dangerous levels.”
So, since some ExtenZe products contain unlabeled sildenafil, does ExtenZe work like Viagra in your body? No, not even close.
In addition to interacting with other medications and substances, unlabeled drug ingredients like sildenafil can pose additional safety risks when they’re manufactured in unsafe, often non-sterile environments.
Because these ingredients are included illicitly, they’re often manufactured inexpensively outside the United States in facilities that are far from ideal. These ingredients may be tainted, produced poorly or dosed incorrectly, posing extra risks if they’re consumed.
In addition to the risks associated with unlabeled, potentially contaminated ingredients, there’s also the fact that ExtenZe isn’t subject to any kind of formal safety testing.
Before medications are approved for human use, they go through a complex and thorough trial and testing process that’s mandated by the FDA.
This process helps to ensure that medications are both safe and effective before they’re made available to the public.
But ExtenZe is a supplement, not a medication, and supplements don’t have to go through the same types of rigorous testing as the type of medication you’d receive from your doctor.
This means that the “natural” ingredients used in ExtenZe may not be thoroughly tested for safety, and may be harmful when they’re misused or consumed in excessive quantities.
Despite its “natural” formula, some of the ingredients used in ExtenZe may cause side effects, including serious ones. These include:
Cardiovascular and neurological issues such as heart attacks and seizures, which are associated with yohimbe extract
Tachycardia (rapid heartbeat) or hypertension (elevated blood pressure)
Increased feelings of anxiety
Many of the unlabeled ingredients found in ExtenZe products can also cause side effects. For example, sildenafil — the active ingredient in Viagra — can cause the following adverse effects:
Blurred vision and other vision changes
These side effects may be more severe when sildenafil isn’t a labeled ingredient, such as in ExtenZe or other male enhancement pills because it’s unclear how much of this medication is in each tablet.
Because of these potential side effects, it’s important to talk with your healthcare provider before you consider using ExtenZe or any other male enhancement dietary supplements.
ExtenZe is sometimes recommended online as an alternative to Viagra, an FDA-approved ED medication.
Although ExtenZe and Viagra might seem similar at first glance, they’re very different products that are held to totally different standards in terms of effectiveness and safety.
Put simply, Viagra is a proven treatment for erectile dysfunction, whereas ExtenZe is more of a gamble. It might work, and you might notice improvements in your erections after taking it prior to sex. However, there’s no evidence to suggest that it’s effective or safe.
As an FDA-approved medication, Viagra (and its generic counterpart, sildenafil) went through a long and thorough testing process before it came onto the market in the late 1990s.
As part of this process, Viagra was tested in 21 randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trials that involved more than 3,000 people.
These trials showed what you’d expect if you’ve ever taken Viagra — that it works very well as an ED treatment and has few, generally mild side effects.
Because ExtenZe is a dietary supplement, not a medication, it hasn’t gone through any clinical trials or other testing. As such, it can’t legally be marketed as an evidence-based treatment for ED or as a medication for increasing your penis size.
While some of the ingredients in ExtenZe may offer benefits for sexual performance, there’s no substantial scientific evidence to prove that they treat erectile dysfunction in the same way that Viagra does.
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Because of the lack of high-quality study data about its safety and effectiveness, as well as the manufacturer’s history of including undeclared ingredients, it’s hard to recommend ExtenZe for improving your erections, penis size or other aspects of your sexual performance.
However, there are proven treatments for ED, including medications you can use before sex and a variety of changes you can make to your habits and lifestyle.
If you have ED, you’ll get much better results from a science-based medication than from an over-the-counter supplement like ExtenZe.
Currently, the FDA has approved the following medications as treatments for ED:
Vardenafil. The active ingredient in Levitra®, vardenafil provides relief from ED for four to six hours per dose.
Avanafil. The active ingredient in Stendra®, avanafil is a second-generation medication that’s fast-acting and is less likely to cause some side effects.
We offer several erectile dysfunction medications online — including Hims hard mints, which make taking ED medication even more convenient — following a consultation with a licensed healthcare provider who will determine if a prescription is appropriate.
An estimated 30 million men in the US are affected by ED. If you’re one of them, making some simple, small changes to your lifestyle and habits can help to improve your erections and sexual health.
Stay active and exercise regularly.
Follow a healthy, balanced diet.
Maintain a healthy body weight.
Limit your alcohol consumption.
If you smoke, make an effort to quit.
As well as living a balanced lifestyle, it’s important to stay on top of medical conditions that may contribute to ED. These include issues such as high blood pressure, atherosclerosis and type 2 diabetes.
Our guide to the causes of erectile dysfunction explains more about how these issues can affect your erections and sexual performance.
It’s totally normal to want a bigger penis, harder erections and better sexual performance. While ExtenZe makes some lofty claims about its ability to provide these, there’s no scientific evidence that it actually delivers.
If you’re thinking about trying ExtenZe or a similar male enhancement supplement, make sure to keep the following in mind:
Despite the bold claims, testimonials and ExtenZe reviews you may find online, ExtenZe hasn’t been subject to any clinical trials. As such, we don’t have any reliable information about whether or not it truly works.
Some ingredients found in ExtenZe, such as yohimbe, are associated with heart attacks, anxiety, seizures and other serious risks.
Although ExtenZe claims to use a “natural” formula, FDA investigations have found that ExtenZe products make use of hidden drug ingredients, some of which may cause side effects and interactions.
Instead of relying on male enhancement products or herbal remedies to deal with ED, you’ll get far better results by using evidence-based erectile dysfunction medication.
Interested in getting started? You can discuss your options with a healthcare provider by taking part in an ED consultation, or find out more about managing erectile dysfunction with our guide to the most common ED treatments.