Medicines that can help produce an
erection may be used to treat
erection problems that are
caused by blood vessel (vascular), hormonal, nervous system, or psychological
problems. They also may be used along with counseling to treat erection
problems that have psychological causes.
Commonly used oral medicines include:
- PDE-5 inhibitors such as sildenafil (for example, Viagra), tadalafil (for example, Cialis), and vardenafil (for example, Levitra).
Other medicines that may be used include:
- Injected medicines.
- Intraurethral alprostadil (MUSE).
Hormones and other medicines may be prescribed for men
who have low
testosterone or high
- Erection Problems: Should I Take Medicine?
- Erection Problems: Should I Try Injection Treatments?
What to think about
Although oral medicines for erection problems can
be purchased over the Internet, you need to talk with your doctor before using this medicine. This is especially important if you
have a heart problem.
PDE-5 inhibitors and heart problems
PDE-5 inhibitors should never
be used if you may need to take a
nitrate-containing medicine, such as nitroglycerin.
Taking nitroglycerin and a PDE-5 inhibitor within 24 hours of each other may
greatly lower your blood pressure. This could lead to a heart attack,
stroke, or death.
Talk with your doctor about whether medicines for erection problems are safe for you if you:
- Have heart disease.
- Have heart failure or low blood pressure.
- Are taking drugs for high blood pressure.
If you are taking a
PDE-5 inhibitor and are going to have a test for heart disease, make sure that your
doctor knows you are taking it. You should not take sildenafil (for example, Viagra) or
vardenafil (for example, Levitra) for 24 hours before the test. Do not take tadalafil
(for example, Cialis) for at least 48 hours before the test. Then if you have a problem
during the test, it will be safe to use nitrate-containing medicines such as
If you are using a combination of drugs for
high blood pressure, PDE-5 inhibitors could cause low blood pressure
(hypotension). Also for this reason, you should not take alpha blockers—used to
lower blood pressure and to treat an enlarged prostate—with these medicines
without talking to your doctor. The combination could cause a
dangerous drop in blood pressure.
Sex when you have heart problems
Sexual activity is exercise. If you have a heart
condition and have not been sexually active for a while, talk with your doctor to make sure you can engage in sexual activity safely.