At some point in life, every person, male or female, may experience low sex drive, and require an extra boost to keep the passion alive. Erectile dysfunction, one of the most encountered forms of sexual dysfunction is an excuse usually put forward for indulgence in aphrodisiacs – the well-known, power-packed, libido enhancers that enable greater sexual health and function.

Named after Aphrodite, the ancient Greek goddess of sexual love and beauty, aphrodisiacs are believed to have a powerful impact on the mind, and ultimately stimulate certain organs including the sex organs.

An aphrodisiac could be food, drink, drug, perfume, spice or any other entity that arouses, induces or restores feelings of sexual desire and pleasure.

Unfortunately, it is both those who can attain the required libido as well as those who cannot, who utilise these aphrodisiacs now, hence they are serially abused in this environment.

Experts say the typical aphrodisiac enhances aspects of the sensory experience such as sight, touch, smell, taste and hearing – which in turn increases sexual drive, improves performance and results in greater sexual satisfaction. But uncontrolled use could lead to unprecedented organ damage or worse.

So why are people, especially men, now using these drugs as if their lives depended on them? In this report, SOLA OGUNDIPE and CHIOMA OBINNA, reveal that while the reasons for this trend are as numerous and varied, the ultimately aim and objective is usually the same – increased libido, that is, to be a “real” man.

TESTOSTERONE, libido and sex are three of a kind. Though all natural entities, the trio are physiologically different yet functionally similar. Each one revels in the strengths and weaknesses of the other two. Without one, the other two are nothing because the relevance of one is intertwined with the identities of the other two.

Take testosterone – the sex hormone that stimulates the development of a man’s internal and external reproductive organs or genitals, enhances his sexual traits and triggers the formation of his sperm.

Testosterone denotes the biological connotation of manliness by giving a man his masculinity, virility and tenacity. But for testosterone, there would be no “man” in the real sense; hence, for being the singular factor that makes a man to be a man, testosterone can be regarded as the quintessence of maleness.

One of the most telling effects of a shot of the male sex hormone is an increased libido, which literally means “sexual desire”, “manifestation of sexual desire” or “desire to bind”. Libido is clearly linked to levels of sex hormones, particularly testosterone.

When a reduced sex drive occurs in individuals with relatively low levels of testosterone, for example post-menopause women or men over age 60, testosterone supplements will often increase libido.

For a man, an aphrodisiac increases his ability to “cock” and “fire” his sexual equipment such as to enhance the quality of penile erection, ejaculation and more.

Everyone knows that an enhanced libido is a sex thing because it has a direct uplifting effect on potency and desire (not necessarily ability) for sexual intercourse.

Normally, testosterone enhances libido which in turn fires up the need for sexual intercourse. When an aphrodisiac or sex enhancement drug is thrown in, the sexual drive of a man (or woman) is significantly pumped up several times more than normally possible. The result – more desire for sexual intercourse.

Most aphrodisiacs enhance aspects of the sensory experience such as sight, touch, smell, taste and hearing – which in turn increases sexual drive or libido, improves performance and results in greater sexual satisfaction.

Foods with aphrodisiac properties include oysters, chocolate, chili, or alcohol in addition to a variety of plants and herbs used to restore or enhance sexual pleasure.

Unfortunately, in as much as these drugs are strictly recommended for those who cannot attain the required libido, in Nigeria, the patronage is high, no thanks to the increasing incidences of erectile dysfunction and these drugs are being abused without minding the adverse effects.

Sex everywhere

But should this be surprising, after all, everyone knows that sex sells? Almost everywhere one turns these days, sex is on display. Sex has permeated all aspects of human life from fashion, food and drink to automobiles, electronics and even names – sex is in everything.

With so much sex around, would it be surprising there is so much desire for one form of sexual enhancement or the other?

So, could this high drive for sexual release explain the craze for high-powered sexual performance enhancers, by teenagers and men up to their 20s, 30s and older? Does it explain why more and more men are being compelled to swallow copious amounts of these drugs just to prove their sexual prowess to their women, other men or themselves?

Experts say those who use fake sex enhancement drugs and aphrodisiacs often do so out of ignorance and are unwittingly causing more harm to themselves than solving their problems.

Today, even under -aged boys are beginning to use these drugs without any knowledge of the workings of the drug products.  While some claim to use them to increase their libido, others say they use them to experience the sensation of a “real man”.

One school of thought has it that gone are the days of “Sorry dear, not tonight, I’ve a nagging headache,” excuse women used to escape their men who obviously had more than enough sex drive than they could handle.

According to the theory, in those days, the average woman was fond of complaining of a nagging headache as excuse for dodging her male partner’s incessant sexual overtures. The men then had the ordeal of coaxing their reluctant women into the mood for sex or giving up altogether.

Reversed roles

However, today, roles have been reversed. Somewhere along the line, the women somehow upped their act and have successfully turned the tables to the extent that it is the men who now have to resort to utilising the same time-worn “Sorry I have a headache” excuse in order to dodge their women’s new-found appetite for sex.

But to the dismay of many men, according to the theory, the “I have a headache strategy” is proving far less successful especially as the average woman would not readily take no for an answer.

So, for the hapless man, a sex enhancer could be a “life saver” – enabling him fulfill his matrimonial obligation and keeping his ego intact at the same time.

Whether or not this explains why the majority of the nooks and crannies in Lagos and other big cities are readily awash with all sorts of sex enhancers and aphrodisiacs, it is yet to be seen.

What is absolutely certain, however, is that while some of these sex enhancers could be genuine, the bulk that is being hawked around the streets are obviously fake or substandard or both.

Ehancers and aphrodisiacs everywhere

In recent times, the many streets and filling stations in Lagos and other parts of the country have been flooded with all kinds of sex enhancers and aphrodisiacs.

In Lagos, notable among these areas where these suspected fake sex enhancers and aphrodisiacs are hawked include Kofo Abayomi Street near one of the biggest shopping malls on Victoria Island, Obalende and Coconut Bus Stops, and at almost all the petrol filling stations, cinemas, hotels, street corners, post offices within the metropolis.

What could be most tragic about the indiscriminate sale and consumption of these sex enhancement drugs is that many of the brands on display in these areas are cleverly disguised clones of the original and registered brands.

From the eternally popular little blue pill known as Viagra to siblings such as Cialis and Levitra, less acknowledged brands with outlandish names such as Crazy, Thorough Craziness, Warrior,  Brother Long Legs, Mega Desire, Sexuali, Crocodile Power and A-One Plus are usually up for grabs. Local brands known as opa eyin, burantashi among others, are not left out.

While the good news is that these drugs are easily available, the bad news is that their use often creates more complications for their users. A classic example is priapism – undesirable sustained erection – which could lead to impotence as a result of circulatory damage.

Medical experts say a case of priapism is no picnic. “It is an extremely painful episode that involves the continuous engorgement of the male sex organ which stays permanently erect because blood doesn’t flow out of the area. If the erection lasts too long, it damages the way blood vessels function, causing permanent damage,” warned an expert in human physiology.

Of course women are not left out of the sexual enhancement adventure because products do exist for them. Their own form of enhancements generally fall into two categories chemical and natural—each with its own benefits and draw backs for both men and women.

Unfortunately, investigations by Vanguard Features, VF revealed that some of these drugs sold at every street corner in Lagos are fake and most outstanding of these products is called herbal Viagra.

Worse still, even though such products display the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) registration number, their efficacy and safety remain questionable.

One particular sex enhancing drug – Persistent Effect Vigrana – displays pornographic pictures on the packet with an inscription that says:  “Takes effect from 15 minutes and last for 168 hours; Enlarging penis, prolonging, ultra-hard organ, effective for prostates.

Suitable for those who are hypertensive, or with heart disease or after drinking; brings you impressive effective enlarging of penis as you want.”

President of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN), Pharm. Azubuike Okwor who hinted that PSN has engaged the services of quality control analysts to carry out analysis of these spurious looking products, lamented that the long term consequences of ingesting them.

In a reaction to the dosage, Okwor acceded to the fact that the products do indeed strengthen circulation of the blood in the penis, produce natural hormones, push more blood into the cavernosa during erection.

Therefore, the pressure in the cavernosa will be increased it will be enlarged accordingly which will accommodate 30 percent more blood than usual.

“After taking this capsule, the volume of the cavernosa will increase evidently. More blood accommodated not only brings longer and fuller erection of the penis, but the penis will increase permanently in terms of its length, thickness, and hardness as well.

High dosage, big danger

Okwor who disagreed with the specifications of 500mg x 4 capsules claims on the drugs packet and leaflet said “If it is true, the dosage is quite high, that is a big danger.

When an issue has to do with sex, you don’t know the lifestyle and attitude of the man who want to take these drugs. Somebody might try to cure libido problem and get into more serious problems.”

He blamed some of the growing incidence of sudden death in the country on consumption of such drugs. “We have all kinds of failure, kidney failure, heart failure, sometimes, we don’t know where people are getting these conditions from.

Wicked people are importing these fake drugs into the country, and are smiling to the bank. If care is not taken, we have to import men from other countries, because these drugs are killing the potency of our men.”

In similar vein, President of the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA), Dr. Omede Idris worried over consumption of such drugs that may cause more harm than good.

“These drugs when taken affect every part of the body especially the brain, the heart among others. Some drugs are dangerous. When people have sexual problems such as weak penile erection, quick ejaculation, low libido or low sexual drive, patronising such drugs may even worsen their problems because these drugs affect every part of their body.

Many a time, the drugs are fake. The best thing is for the individual to seek appropriate care by visiting a doctor to evaluate their problems.

Erectile dysfunction on the rise

He noted that erectile dysfunction is on the rise among Nigerian men regretting that many of such men hide their problems instead of seeking care.

Omede said many of these patients resort to using sex stimulants and aphrodisiacs from these hawkers adding that if addicted, those who increase their libido by taking those drugs may no longer perform without them.  Experts also noted that the addiction remains until the libido of the addict is completely destroyed, with many ending up impotent.

Findings have shown that about 95 per cent of cases in men, sexual problems are usually due to psychological factors such as stress, depression and anxiety which could be either economic or domestic.

Furthermore, experts have said a man has such a problem because probably he is not sexually attracted to the woman because sex typically is a mind thing. They say sex is generated from the mind and that is why sex enhancement drugs may not work if there is no desire for sex.

The experts however, agreed that the best sex enhancement is old-fashioned good health. Research has shown that regular exercise and proper diet can boost sex drive effectively.

This prevents a person from injecting chemicals into his or her body and has the added benefit of living a better overall lifestyle.

Whichever, critical observers are of the view that stakeholders and the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) should intensify efforts towards apprehending hawkers of these deadly drugs.


Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.