Munson Health
Medications for Erectile Dysfunction (Impotence)

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by Polsdorfer R
The information provided here is meant to give you a general idea of what to expect from each of these medications. Only the most common side effects are included, so ask your healthcare provider if there are any precautions specific to your case. Use each of these medications as recommended by your doctor or according to the instructions provided with the medication. If you have further questions about usage or side effects, contact your doctor.
There are three medical treatments available for erectile dysfunction (ED): pills, urethral inserts, and injections.

Prescription Medications

  Sildenafil (Viagra)
Viagra was developed to treat heart disease, but during its clinical trials the subjects noticed they were having erections. Viagra works best between one and two hours after taking it. Sexual function improves by a factor of 3 to 4; 4 out of 5 patients taking the drug report improvement. Viagra has been shown to be effective in ED associated with diabetes, spinal cord injury, and medications used to treat depression.
In contrast to the other agents listed below, sildenafil does not produce an erection in the absence of sexual stimulation. It merely enhances the response. Take sildenafil about an hour before planned sexual activity.
Viagra should not be used in the following conditions:
Viagra should be used with caution in the following:
  • Liver or kidney failure
  • Bleeding disorders
  • Ulcer disease
  • Heart disease
  • Concurrent use of blood pressure medications, especially alpha-blockers
  • The elderly
Viagra must be obtained by prescription. There is important information your doctor needs to know about your health before the medication is prescribed.
Possible side effects include:
  • Headache
  • Flushing
  • Indigestion
  • Visual disturbances, a condition known as nonarteritic anterior ischemic optic neuropathy (NAION) that can cause sudden blindness
  • Drug interactions


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