ExtenZe Review: Are Drugstore Male Enhancement Pills Safe?

ExtenZe Review: Are Drugstore Male Enhancement Pills Safe?

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ExtenZe is a popular male enhancement product, and the brand claims to have sold over 1 billion pills. The product is sold online and at major retailers like Rite Aid and Walgreens, and is described by the manufacturer as a "blood flow stimulator" that can "improve your sex life."

But does ExtenZe have research-backed ingredients for improving sexual performance? Can it improve erections? Does it have any unhealthy additive ingredients? And why did the brand receive a warning letter from the FDA?

In this article we'll answer all of these questions and more as we review every ingredient in ExtenZe based on clinical studies to give our take on whether or not the product is likely to be effective for enhancing sexual performance.

ExtenZe has so many active ingredients (21) that we'll break down our ingredient review into two parts: Active Ingredient Review 1 and Active Ingredient Review 2.

We'll also highlight some questionable filler ingredients, compare ExtenZe to ExtenZe Plus and ExtenZe Shots (the liquid supplement), and explain why the warning letter sent by the FDA to ExtenZe is concerning.

Active Ingredient Analysis 1

ExtenZe active ingredients

Folate and zinc are the first two ingredients listed in ExtenZe. We cannot identify medical research with human trial participants suggesting that either improves male sexual performance, and we consider it illogical to take supplemental vitamins and minerals  (especially above 100% Daily Value) without a documented deficiency.

DHEA is a hormone that seems like a strange choice for a male enhancement supplement, given that a 2007 medical review described it in the following way: "DHEA is increasingly available commercially as a supplement aimed at improving libido and wellbeing in postmenopausal women."

We can't identify any evidence that this compound or pregnenolone, another hormone ingredient, improve male sexual function.

The "Bio-Enhancement Blend" has an incredibly low total dose of 25 milligrams (mg), or 8.3 mg average per ingredient.

To give an example of how low of an average ingredient dose this is, let's analyze one of the ingredients: black pepper

According to the USDA, one single teaspoon of black pepper has a dose of 2,900 mg. This means that there is 349x the amount of black pepper in one teaspoon of black pepper as there is in ExtenZe.

This is such an absurdly low average ingredient dose that it's not even worth analyzing data on the other two ingredients in this blend (white pepper and ginger).

We are unable to identify any ingredients in this section of ExtenZe's Supplement Facts label that we consider likely effective for male sexual enhancement. We'll review the remaining active ingredients in the next section.

Active Ingredient Analysis 2

ExtenZe Male Enhancement Blend ingredients

The remaining active ingredients in ExtenZe are in a blend called "Male Enhancement Blend" with a total dose of 600 mg, and an average ingredient dose of 43 mg.

This is a low average ingredient dose.

Maca was proven in a clinical trial published in the Andrologia journal to improve sex drive in men. However the lowest dose used was 1,500 mg per day, or 35x the amount in ExtenZe.

Tribulus extract was clinically shown in animal studies to improve erectile function, as we documented in our review of another male enhancement supplement called Erectin, however the human-equivalent doses were significantly higher than that in ExtenZe.

Yohimbe extract is the only ingredient in this formulation that we consider effectively dosed, because a clinical trial reported that this compound caused a restoration of full and sustained erections in 14% of trial participants who were previously unable to achieve erection.

We consider most of the ingredients in this blend to be severely underdosed. 

As another comparative example, let's analyze the ingredient pumpkin seed keeping in mind the average ingredient dose of only 43 mg in this blend.

According to the USDA, one ounce of pumpkin seeds has a dose of 28,350 mg. This means that one ounce of pumpkin seeds has 659x the amount of pumpkin seeds as likely exists in ExtenZe.

Given the effective dose of yohimbe extract, we consider ExtenZe potentially effective for male sexual enhancement. However, we do not recommend the supplement overall because it's cost-ineffective to take a supplement with 21 active ingredients and only one that appears appropriately dosed, and also because of the FDA warning letter that we'll review in the next section.

FDA Sends Warning Letter

In August of 2018, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) published a Warning Letter notifying the public that ExtenZe contained a hidden ingredient at the time.

The hidden ingredient was identified as sildenafil, the active ingredient in prescription erectile dysfunction drugs like Viagra and Bluechew.

This is a clear violation of consumer safety, and an ethical red flag. We recommend that consumers avoid ExtenZe entirely given this information, and we're surprised that the FDA has allowed the brand to continue selling the supplement (even if they made changes to remove this ingredient), given such a grave disregard for consumer health and safety by the manufacturer.

Highly Questionable Health Claims

ExtenZe questionable website claim 1

The ExtenZe website claims that the supplement is banned for use in Olympic athletes because it's "such a performance enhancer." This explanation is false, and is illogical. The Olympics do not care about the erection quality of their athletes.

They do care about banned substances, and ExtenZe contains a hormone called DHEA which was found in the blood tests of an Olympic athlete who had used ExtenZe named LaShawn Merritt. The Olympic Committee banned him from the Olympic Games in the following year.

ExtenZe questionable website claim 2

The brand's website also claims, strangely, that there are "26 pharmaceutical grade compounds" in ExtenZe.

However, as shown in the ingredient review sections, there are only 21 active ingredients in the supplement.

If inactive ingredients are counted, there are 36 ingredients in the supplement. But what defines a "pharmaceutical grade compound"? We have never come across this term before and consider it unscientific.

Questionable Inactive Ingredients

ExtenZe inactive ingredients

ExtenZe contains a number of additive ingredients that we recommend avoiding from a health perspective.

FD&C Blue #1 is an artificial food dye, and a medical review published in the International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health found that it can cause hypersensitivity reactions.

Titanium dioxide has been banned in the European Union (E.U.) as a food additive due to toxicity concerns, as we documented in our review of another supplement containing this ingredient called Flo Gummies.

Talc, short for talcum powder, was shown in a 2020 meta-study to be associated with increased risk of stomach cancer in an analysis of workers exposed to the ingredient in job settings.

ExtenZe Plus vs. ExtenZe Liquid

Thus far we have reviewed the original formulation of ExtenZe, but the brand also sells a more potent version called ExtenZe Plus, and a liquid supplement called ExtenZe Shots.

ExtenZe Plus ingredients

The ingredients in ExtenZe Plus are shown above. This supplement does have one additional ingredient that we consider effective for male sexual function, which is tongkat ali extract.

As we documented in our Cialix reviews article, there is clinical evidence showing that tongkat ali extract can increase testosterone levels in men. But because the dose is not published in this ingredient list, we cannot determine if it's effectively dosed in this supplement.

ExtenZe Plus also contains three separate artificial food dyes (FD&C Red 40, FD&C Blue 1, FD&C Yellow 6) while the original formulation only has one.

The FDA also documented ExtenZe Plus to contain the same hidden drug ingredient as in ExtenZe's original formulation.

ExtenZe Shots ingredients

ExtenZe Shots, ingredients shown above, is the most unhealthy ExtenZe product in our opinion. Do you really want to be drinking a "foam control agent" with your supplement?

This drink also contains artificial sweetener sucralose which was shown in a clinical trial to worsen insulin function in healthy adults, preservatives citric acid and sodium benzoate, and artificial flavors.

We consider ExtenZe Plus to be potentially more effective than original ExtenZe due to the inclusion of tonkgat ali extract, but we strongly recommend avoiding all ExtenZe supplements. 

ExtenZe Pros and Cons

It may be challenging to provide “pros” for a brand found by the FDA to be adulterating their supplements, but this section is intended as a quick overview for readers who may not be interested in reading all of the research.


  • Mainly safe botanical ingredients 
  • Relatively cheap when purchased in bulk


  • Hidden drug ingredient found by FDA
  • Questionable additive ingredients
  • No public team
  • Expensive to purchase one single bottle

ExtenZe FAQs

Does ExtenZe work?

While some of the active ingredients are likely effective, there have been no medical trials proving ExtenZe works.

Can you take ExtenZe on an empty stomach?

There are no published directions on ExtenZe’s website indicating that the supplement must be taken with food, so we would assume it’s safe to take on an empty stomach. Since it’s primarily an herbal supplement, it shouldn’t matter whether it’s taken with food or not.

How long does it take for ExtenZe to work?

There’s no data on how long it takes for ExtenZe to be effective, as there’s no data proving ExtenZe is effective at all.

The company’s website states that maximum results are seen after 8 weeks of daily use.

Ageless Male or ExtenZe?

Ageless Male is another popular male enhancement supplement, so readers frequently ask which product is superior.

While we don’t recommend either product, we believe Ageless Male is a better brand than ExtenZe because they haven’t received any FDA warning letters over adulterated supplements.

Does ExtenZe work like Viagra?

Viagra is a prescription medication, meaning it’s gone through rigorous medical trials proving its safety and efficacy.

ExtenZe is a dietary supplement, which requires zero medical proof of safety and efficacy. Thus we would conclude that Viagra is safer and more likely to be effective. There is extensive medical data proving that Viagra works (on average – it won’t work for every patient).

Stay up-to-date on our research reviews


We strongly recommend that consumers avoid all ExtenZe supplements.

While their formulations do contain some ingredients which may be effective, the FDA has warned that both ExtenZe and ExtenZe Plus contained a hidden drug ingredient at one point in time, which is a severe ethical and consumer safety violation on the manufacturer's part.

ExtenZe Shots is the least healthy formulation of any ExtenZe product in our opinion, as it contains a number of questionable additive ingredients like artificial sweeteners and artificial flavors.

There are several strange claims on the ExtenZe website, including the suggestion that their supplements are banned for use in Olympic athletes because they're "such a performance enhancer" which is simply not true. The supplements are banned because they contain a hormone that Olympic athletes are not allowed to use.

We hope that Walgreens and Rite Aid stop retailing this product in light of the FDA warning letters.