Erectile dysfunction (ED) is a very common issue. Men of all ages experience ED and turn to erectile dysfunction drugs to help with their performance in the bedroom.
Doctors will often diagnose the condition on the back of your medical history and a physical exam. Once diagnosed, there are various treatment options available to you. Options include oral and non-oral medications and non-medical treatments.
What oral erectile dysfunction drugs are available?
The most well-known erectile dysfunction drugs are taken orally. You’ve probably heard of Viagra, or sildenafil in its generic form which are available via edgeneric pills after a successful consultation. Other oral drugs include tadalafil (Cialis), vardenafil (Levitra) and avanafil (Spedra).
How do these ED drugs work?
The medications work in similar ways, but different ones can suit different patients.
Nitric oxide is a chemical in your body that makes your blood vessels widen. The drugs enhance the effect of nitric oxide which allows more blood flow to the penis. This in itself is not enough to get an erection. The ED drugs aren’t magic pills, so you will also need to be aroused or sexually stimulated.
Sexual stimulation causes the release of nitric oxide from the nerves in your penis. The drugs enhance this process, allowing you to get an erection.
What are the side effects of oral erectile dysfunction drugs?
Erectile dysfunction drugs have common side effects. These include: headaches, dizziness, vision changes, flushes, congestion, body aches and pains and digestive system issues.
The common side effects are temporary and should go away naturally after a few doses of the medication. More serious side effects include loss of vision, changes in hearing and priapism – a prolonged erection lasting more than four hours. You should get medical help right away if you experience any of these symptoms.
What if I can’t take oral medication?
Not everybody can take oral erectile dysfunction drugs. The medication can be dangerous if you have low blood pressure, liver disease or kidney disease. You also can’t mix oral erectile dysfunction drugs with nitrate drugs that are used to treat chest pain.
Your doctor may recommend other medication if this is the case. Examples of other medications include:
Injections: You’ll be taught a doctor to inject an erectile dysfunction drug such as alprostadil directly into your penis. For those who dislike needles, a fine needle is used here and pain is typically minor.
The erection should follow within 20 minutes and can last up to an hour. Speak to your doctor if the erection is prolonged or you experience other side effects.
Alprostadil urethral suppository: This involves inserting a tiny pellet of alprostadil into the urethra (the tube that urine is passed through) using a special applicator. The alprostadil is then passed into the surrounding tissues which creates an erection that usually lasts between 30 and 60 minutes.
Common side effects include pain and sometimes blood depending on how gentle you were when inserting the applicator.
Testosterone replacement: Erectile dysfunction can be caused by low testosterone levels. Your doctor might recommend testosterone replacement therapy as the first step. It can increase libido and drive sexual function.
What non-medical treatments are available?
There are a number of non-medical treatments available if you don’t want to use erectile dysfunction drugs.
Improving your lifestyle – for example, by stopping smoking, losing weight and limiting alcohol – can help with erectile dysfunction.
You could also try a penis pump. This is a vacuum erection device. Place the tube over your penis and allow the pump to suck the air out of the tube. This helps to pull blood into your penis. A tension ring can be used to help maintain the erection.
Your penis might feel cold and bruised, and ejaculation can be restricted by the tension ring.
You could also try the surgical method of penis implants. These are inflatable or semi-rigid rods inserted into both sides of the penis.
The advantage of implants is that you can control when and for how long you get an erection. This method is only recommended when you have tried other methods first.
Erectile dysfunction can be caused by mental health conditions like depression and anxiety. Your doctor may suggest counselling as an alternative option.
Seeking ED Help
You’re not alone if you suffer from erectile dysfunction. The good news is there are plenty of treatments available.
There are a number of oral erectile dysfunction drugs, such as sildenafil (Viagra) and tadalafil (Cialis) available. Non-oral medication like injections and Alprostadil urethral suppository are also an option. Or, if you want to avoid drugs altogether, non-medical treatments include penis pumps, implants and counselling.