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What is the effect of nutraceuticals on erectile function?

Urology Times JournalVol 50 No 01
Volume 50
Issue 01

A recent study comparing nutraceuticals and placebo found increases in erectile function subjective measures in both, although nutraceuticals appeared to have a more pronounced effect than placebo.1

Notably, International Index of Erectile Function-Erectile Function (IIEF-EF) score increased from 16.6 to 20.6 (P = .0008) in patients receiving nutraceuticals, compared with an increase from 17.0 to 18.4 in patients receiving placebo (P = .0021).

“Nutraceuticals are pharmacological alternatives to conventional medications that have been used to treat a variety of ailments or conditions however frequently these compounds are used without rigorous assessment of safety and efficacy,” explained first author Mark Arthur of Albany Medical College in New York and his coauthors. They presented their findings at the 2021 Sexual Medicine Society of North America Fall Scientific Meeting.

To assess nutraceuticals’ effect on erectile function, the investigators searched for studies in PubMed, using the search terms “(erectile dysfunction OR erectile function OR sexual dysfunction) and (placebo OR sham).”

Twelve studies were chosen for analysis, all of them blinded and placebo-controlled (“nutraceutical” group versus “placebo” group). All studies must have used the IIEF-EF to measure outcomes. Studies were excluded if there were data missing, if articles could not be retrieved, or if protocol was ambiguous or unblinded. The investigators performed a meta-analysis using the data, considering outcomes to be statistically significant if the P value was less than .05.

In total, 602 patients received nutraceuticals, 559 patients received a placebo, and a variety of different compounds were included in the studies.

“The mechanism of response to placebo for erectile function is unclear; however, the increases in both nutraceutical and placebo group points towards a contributory psychological effect of the medications,” the authors concluded.


1. Arthur, M, Feustel P, Welliver C. IIEF-EF Improvements are more Pronounces with Nutraceuticals Compared to Placebo Medications: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. Paper presented at: 2021 Sexual Medicine Society of North America Fall Scientific Meeting; October 21-24, 2021. Abstract 026.

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