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Oral Medicines for Erectile Dysfunction

You can use prescription oral medicine for 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 doctor about oral ED medicine. Ask whether it is right for you.

Types of oral ED medicines

There are three types of prescription oral ED medicines. Each one increases blood flow to the penis. When the penis is stimulated, an erection results. The types 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 doctor tells you to.

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

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

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

Possible side effects of oral ED medicines

  • Headache

  • Facial flushing

  • Runny or stuffy nose

  • Indigestion

  • Distortion of your color vision for a short time

  • Sudden vision loss or hearing loss (rare)

  • Dizziness

Risks of oral ED medicines

  • Do not take ED medicines if you take medicines containing nitrates. The combination may drop your blood pressure to a dangerous level. Nitrates include nitroglycerin (a drug for angina or chest pain). They are also in “poppers,” an inhaled recreational drug. If you’re not sure whether you’re taking nitrates, ask your doctor 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 also treat high blood pressure. Be sure your doctor 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, talk to your doctor. Having sex again can put extra strain on your heart. Your doctor can confirm that 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 doctor 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.

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