Oral Medicines for Erectile Dysfunction
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Oral Medicines for Erectile Dysfunction

You can use prescription oral medicine for erectile dysfunction (ED). They often work well. But, like all medicines, they can have side effects. Also, you can’t use them if you have certain health problems or take certain other medicines. Talk with your healthcare provider about oral ED medicine. Ask whether it is right for you.

Types of oral ED medicines

Your healthcare provide may suggest 1 of 4 different prescription oral ED medicines. Each one increases blood flow to the penis. When the penis is stimulated, an erection results. The medicines are:

  • Sildenafil citrate 

  • Tadalafil 

  • Vardenafil

  • Avanfil

What oral ED medicines don’t do

There are some things ED medicines can’t do.

  • They don’t cure the cause of your ED. Without the medicine, you’ll still have trouble getting an erection.

  • They can’t produce an erection without sexual stimulation.

  • They won’t increase sexual desire. They also won’t solve any other sexual issues. Psychological, emotional, or relationship issues will not be fixed.

Taking oral ED medicines safely

  • Do not combine ED medicines with other treatments unless your healthcare provider tells you to.

  • Don’t take ED medicines more often or in larger doses than prescribed.

  • Tell your healthcare provider about your health history. Mention all medicines you take. This includes over-the-counter drugs, supplements, and herbs.

  • Ask your healthcare provider about whether you can drink alcohol while taking ED medication.

  • Check with your pharmacist before using any new over-the-counter medicines to make sure that they are safe to use with your ED medicine.

Possible side effects of oral ED medicines

  • Headache

  • Facial flushing

  • Runny or stuffy nose

  • Indigestion

  • Distortion of your color vision for a short time

  • Dizziness

  • Sudden vision or hearing loss (rare)

  • Erection that lasts 4 hours or longer

Risks of oral ED medicines

  • Taking ED medicines with medicines that contain nitrates can cause your blood pressure to drop to a dangerous level. . Nitrates include nitroglycerin (a drug for angina or chest pain). They are also in “poppers,” an inhaled recreational drug. Do not take ED medicines if you take medicines containing nitrates. If you’re not sure whether you’re taking nitrates, ask your healthcare provider or pharmacist.

  • Medicines called alpha-blockers can interact with ED medicines. They can cause a sudden drop in blood pressure. Alpha-blockers are a common treatment for prostate problems. They are also used to treat high blood pressure. Be sure your healthcare provider knows if you take these medicines.

  • If you’ve had a heart attack or have heart disease and you have not had sex for a while, having sex again can put extra strain on your heart. Talk with your healthcare provider about whether your heart is healthy enough for sex.

  • It is rare, but some men taking ED medicines have had sudden vision loss. This may be more likely if other health problems are present. These include high blood pressure and diabetes. Ask your healthcare provider if you are at risk for 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.

Online Medical Reviewer: Marc Greenstein MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Marianne Fraser MSN RN
Online Medical Reviewer: Raymond Kent Turley BSN MSN RN
Date Last Reviewed: 6/1/2019
© 2000-2021 The StayWell Company, LLC. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.