Buying safe sexual enhancement products

Buying unauthorized sexual enhancement products online, in stores, or out of country could pose a serious risk to your health

You should only buy sexual enhancement products, such as those for erectile dysfunction, that have been authorized for sale in Canada.

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Health risks of unauthorized sexual enhancement products

When you buy an unauthorized sexual enhancement product there is no guarantee that it contains what it says it does, nor is there a guarantee that its ingredients are safe. These products are often labelled as "all natural" and "safe", but in many cases prescription drugs are added. They may also contain cheap ingredients added as "fillers".

These products may interact with other health products and foods that you are taking. They may be made under unsanitary conditions and could be contaminated with:

  • mold
  • bacteria
  • chemicals used to make other products on the same site

Although the product could be doing what it says it will, you could be harming your body unknowingly. These products could pose serious risks to your health, especially if you have an underlying health condition.

There is no guarantee that the person who advertises an unauthorized product will send it to you once you have paid. Also, the product may not do what it claims to do and may not be the product as advertised.

Products containing prescription drugs should only be used under the supervision of a health-care provider.

Prescription drugs that have been found in unauthorized sexual enhancement products include:

  • sildenafil
  • tadalafil
  • vardenafil
  • yohimbine

Sildenafil,tadalafil and vardenafil should not be used by people taking any kind of nitrate drug (such as nitroglycerin) as the combination can potentially cause life-threatening low blood pressure.

People with heart problems who take sildenafil, tadalafil, or vardenafil are at an increased risk of cardiovascular side effects such as:

  • stroke
  • chest pain
  • heart attack
  • high blood pressure
  • abnormal heartbeat

Other side effects associated with sildenafil, tadalafil and vardenafil include:

  • dizziness
  • headache
  • indigestion
  • hearing loss
  • facial flushing
  • abnormal vision

Using drugs containing yohimbine (either as yohimbine hydrochloride or yohimbe bark extract) may result in serious adverse reactions. This is particularly true for people with high blood pressure, or heart, kidney or liver disease. Side effects associated with yohimbine include:

  • nausea
  • tremors
  • anxiety
  • dizziness
  • headache
  • sleep disorders
  • increased blood pressure and heart rate

Yohimbine should not be used by pregnant or nursing women.

Health care providers prescribe the use of authorized sexual enhancement products on a regular basis. The use of these products is common. Anyone who wishes to use them should not be embarrassed about talking to their health care provider. Your health care provider knows your health situation best and can help to ensure an appropriate treatment is chosen.

Companies selling unauthorized sexual enhancement products often rely on a consumer's shyness and fear as a way to push their products. Don't put your health at risk. Ask your health care provider today about how to buy and use authorized sexual enhancement products in Canada.

What you should do

Check if a product is counterfeit (fake) or adulterated (prescription ingredient in the product, but not on the label)

Sexual enhancement products for sale online or in stores may be counterfeit or adulterated. The World Health Organization has estimated that nearly half of the drugs sold online (billions of dollars) are fakes.

Some signs that may indicate a product is fake are that it:

  • tastes different from licensed products
  • has a different consistency or look
  • has spelling mistakes on the packaging or blurry text
  • has packaging that is falling apart
  • the dosage information is high/low
  • it is not clean and is in poor condition

Check if a product is authorized for sale in Canada

Any sexual enhancement product authorized for sale in Canada will have 1 of these 3 identifiers:

  • an eight-digit Drug Identification Number (DIN)
  • a Natural Product Number (NPN)
  • a Homeopathic Drug Number (DIN-HM)

The product must also give certain information on the label. The label must:

  • list all medicinal ingredients and their amounts
  • give the recommended use and dose
  • give appropriate health warnings

Websites selling sexual enhancement products which are unauthorized often:

  • send spam e-mail
  • have spelling mistakes and bad grammar
  • hide their physical address or phone number

Tips on identifying legitimate online pharmacies are available at the following site: Choosing a safe online pharmacy

In Canada, only a registered health care provider under provincial/territorial law can legally prescribe a prescription drug for you. Only a licensed pharmacy may legally sell you a prescription drug.

You can check whether products have been authorized for sale by searching Health Canada's Drug Product Database and Licensed Natural Health Product Database.

You can also sign up for Health Canada's Recalls and alerts which includes a number of dangerous sexual enhancement products.

Health Canada's role

To minimize risks, Health Canada regulates products sold  in Canada to make sure they meet requirements for safety, effectiveness, and quality.

When Health Canada identifies unauthorized products that may pose serious health risks, Health Canada takes appropriate action and informs Canadians. This includes seizing unauthorized products and working with the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) the help prevent further importation of unauthorized products.

If you buy a prescription drug or any health product online that has not been authorized for sale in Canada, it may be refused entry or seized at the border. Health Canada continues to seize large quantities of unauthorized products at the border. Your package may be recommended for refusal to the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) or seized, if they are suspected to be:

  • Counterfeit
  • Adulterated (contains an ingredient not listed on the label)
  • Making false health claims
  • Not meeting personal or commercial importation requirements

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