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Welcome to our health education library. The information shared below is provided to you as an educational and informational source only and is not intended to replace a medical examination or consultation, or medical advice given to you by a physician or medical professional.


Oral Medications for Erectile DysfunctionMedicamentos orales para la disfunci³n er©ctil (DE)

Oral Medications for Erectile Dysfunction

Prescription oral medications are often very successful in treating ED. But men with certain health problems or who are taking certain other medications should not use them. And all medications may cause side effects. Talk with your doctor about whether oral ED medication is right for you, and the risks and benefits of the medication.

Types of Oral ED Medications

There are three types of prescription oral ED medications on the market. Each increase blood flow to the penis. When the penis is stimulated, the result is an erection. The three medications are:

  • Sildenafil citrate (Viagra)

  • Tadalafil (Cialis)

  • Vardenafil HCL (Levitra)

What Oral ED Medications Don't Do

  • Medications don't cure the underlying cause of ED. Without the medication, you'll still have trouble getting an erection.

  • Medications cannot produce an erection in the absence of sexual stimulation.

  • Medications won't increase sexual desire or solve any other sexual issues beyond getting an erection. They also won't solve any psychological, emotional, or relationship issues.

Taking Oral ED Medications Safely

  • Don't combine ED medications with other treatments unless your doctor suggests doing so.

  • Don't take ED medications more often or in larger doses than prescribed.

  • Tell your doctor your health history and all medications you take, including over-the-counter medications, supplements, and herbs.

  • Ask your doctor about the effects of combining alcohol with your medication.

Possible Side Effects of Oral ED Medications

  • Headache

  • Facial flushing

  • Runny or stuffy nose

  • Indigestion

  • Distortion of your color vision for a short time

  • Sudden vision loss or hearing loss (rare)

Risks of Oral ED Medications

  • You should not take ED medications if you take medications containing nitrates. The combination may drop your blood pressure to a dangerous level. Nitrates include nitroglycerin (a treatment for angina) and "poppers" (an inhaled recreational drug). If you're not sure whether you're taking nitrates, ask your doctor or pharmacist.

  • Medications called alpha blockers can interact with ED medications and cause a sudden drop in blood pressure. Alpha-blockers are a common treatment for prostate problems and high blood pressure. Be sure your doctor knows if you take these medications.

  • If your heart is already weak from a heart attack or heart disease and you have not had sex for a while, having sex again can put extra strain on your heart. Check with your doctor first to see if your heart is healthy enough for sex.

  • In rare cases, sudden vision loss may occur while taking ED medications. This may be related to high blood pressure, diabetes, or other conditions. Ask your doctor whether you are at risk of this type of vision loss.

  • In rare cases, an erection may last too long. This can badly damage the blood vessels in your penis. If an erection lasts longer than 4 hours, go to the emergency room right away.

Date Last Reviewed: 2006-01-02T00:00:00-07:00

Date Last Modified: 2009-07-07T00:00:00-06:00


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