In 2018, the American Urological Association’s guidelines for ED stated that men may choose several options for their ED struggles: lifestyle modification, assistive devices or even surgery, for treatment. The most common ED treatment in the market is medication.
A Variety of Erectile Dysfunction Drugs
There are a variety of prescription drugs on the market to address and treat Erectile Dysfunction (ED). While oral medication is often the first step in a treatment plan, it is important to note that ED is often a symptom of a broader health condition or a side effect of an existing medication.
According to the Mayo Clinic, there are several prescription options for getting and maintaining an erection, all of which have limited side effects.
In general, it can be challenging to compare prescriptions directly as pharmaceutical companies rarely do competitive research studies. Also, medication testing does not address individual variability.
Viagra, Levitra, Staxyn, Cialis and Stendra are oral medications that counter the effects of ED by enhancing the effects of nitric oxide – a chemical naturally found in the body which relaxes the penile muscles. In short, Erectile Dysfunction is caused by reduced blood flow to the penis. Therefore, this increase of blood flow allows you to get – and sustain – an erection after sexual stimulation.
Consulting Your Physician About ED
Each of these prescriptions function similarly but have a slightly unique chemical makeup. Consult with your physician to choose the best treatment plan and medication for your lifestyle and preferences.
- Viagra (Sildenafil) is most effective when taken on an empty stomach, approximately one hour before sex. If the user has moderate ED, Viagra can be effective for up to five hours.
- Cialis (Tadalafil) can be taken with or without food up to two hours before sex. Unlike Viagra which is only good for a maximum of five hours, Cialis is effective for 36. Additionally, Cialis can be taken in micro doses on a regular/daily basis or taken in a larger amount – as needed.
- Stendra (Avanafil) can be taken with or without food but must be taken within 30 minutes of sex. Depending on the dose, it can last up to six hours.
- Levitra/Staxyn (Vardenafil) is most effective when taken within an hour of sexual activity and can be taken with or without food and its benefits last for up to five hours. A newer form of this drug dissolves on your tongue making it faster acting than some of its capsulated counterparts.
It is important to note that ED medications may be ineffective or even dangerous if you take nitrates (commonly recommended for chest pain), have low blood pressure (which can cause ED) or high blood pressure, suffer from liver disease, or require dialysis or have kidney disease.
Common side effects for all the aforementioned medications are headache, back pain, runny nose, blurred or vision changes (including photosensitivity), indigestion, rash, dizziness and flushing.
If any of the above side effects worsen, contact your clinician immediately.
Some men have experienced more severe side effects including sustained erections, complete vision loss, sudden hearing loss, heart attack, stroke, cardiac arrythmia, and even death while taking ED medications. It is important to note, however, that many men suffering from ED have pre-existing medical conditions and it is unknown if the ED medications prescribed exacerbated these problems.
Alternative Methods to Treating ED
While a pill may be a quick fix to Erectile Dysfunction, aerobic exercise, lifestyle changes, treatment of underlying conditions, mental health resources and even sexual health aids may help treat Erectile Dysfunction.
Eating a balanced diet (and weight loss), curtailing smoking habits, regular exercise, quality sleep patterns, therapy or counseling, stress reduction, and alcohol cessation can all contribute to a healthier body – including the penis.
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