Sexual enhancers flood Zimbabwe market
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The increase in the number of providers of these services has been commensurate with the uptake of both laboratory and home-made herbs said to enhance sexual prowess.
While traditionally such herbs have been known to be used especially by men, it is the rate at which they are being paraded that has left many people wondering why there is a sudden increase.
The drugs and herbs are prescribed for people with a weak sex drive, but it seems there is much hype even among those categorised as "able".
More people are now taking drugs like viagra, seregra, camagra, silver bullet, spanish fly, blue diamond, vuka-vuka, chao jimengnan, desire, wild horse and super powerful man, among an array of sex-enhancing tablets.
A snap survey in Harare revealed that viagra and choa jimengnan were the most commonly used drugs by those seeking to improve their sexual prowess.
But some of the drugs are reported to contain yohimbine, an alkaloid obtained from the bark of a West African tree, which increases blood flow throughout the body and can cause serious stress to the heart in men with heart or vascular problems.
Other supplements contain hormones like testosterone that can contribute to other health complications, such as enlargement of the prostate gland or an increased incidence of prostate cancer.
The most serious side-effect is priapism, a persistent, painful erection that lasts for hours.
Priapism, which can occur without sexual stimulation, requires surgical intervention and can eventually lead to erectile dysfunction.
Urologists who spoke to The Sunday Mail In-Depth said the use of drugs to enhance sexual pleasure was increasing among the young ages.
They said the drugs were recommended mostly for men over 45 years with anti-oxidants and vitamin problems. They said while the drugs were usually the preserve of men, some women were now resorting to their use.
The most common drugs being taken by women include femagene romance and female passion support.
A urologist at Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals, Dr Samuel Mvurume, said most erectile dysfunction problems were an indication that there was a health problem.
"If a person needs a drug to erect, it shows that there is more to the erectile problem than meets the eye.
"In most cases it is an indication that there is a medical problem associated with diseases like diabetes and heart problems," he said.
Dr Mvurume said people should seek medical attention before using sex-enhancing drugs.
He added that if a person's blood vessels are functioning normally, there is no need for such drugs.
Dr Mvurume said the danger of the sex-enhancing drugs was that the dose was dependent on the condition of each individual.
"Those who use the herbs need to know that there is no prescribed dose and the effects might be dire. Remember, if people are told to take a teaspoon of the drug, they will take a cup," he said.
Another doctor at Harare Central Hospital, who declined to be named for professional reasons, said erectile problems were associated with age, smoke and alcohol abuse.
"Some men above the age of 45 fail to erect and they resort to the use of viagra and herbs in an effort to accomplish this," he said.
"Most men face problems of erectile dysfunction due to psychological problems like stress, depression and emotional disturbances."
Health experts say there is need for men to exercise regularly and eat lots of fruits and vegetables in order to counter erectile dysfunction.
Investigations revealed that while most of the sex-enhancement drugs were not accessible over the counter, they are finding their way to the public through the back door.
Most of the drugs are reported not to be registered with the Medical Control Authority of Zimbabwe.
Efforts to get a comment from the authority were fruitless by the time of going to press as the authority had not yet responded to questions sent to it.
However, investigations show that most of the drugs have illegally landed into the country from countries such as Zambia and South Africa while some are smuggled from as far as Asia.
A survey in Harare and Chitungwiza showed that the drugs and herbs were being sold on the open market for between $1 and $5 while some pharmacies charge an average of $3 for a single dosage tablet.
Some lodges in the capital are also selling the drugs to people who frequent the accommodation facilities.
There are also fears that counterfeit drugs could have invaded the street, putting the lives of people who use them in danger.
David Chigwizura, who was spotted buying some of the drugs, said: "I am married to two wives and these people need to be satisfied."
Medical experts estimate that about 95 percent of men with erectile dysfunctional problems are a result of psychological problems while 5 percent is pathological.
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