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Erection Problems (Erectile Dysfunction) - Medications

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.

Medicine choices

Commonly used oral medicines include:

Other medicines that may be used include:

Hormones and other medicines may be prescribed for men who have low testosterone or high prolactin levels.

dplink.gif Erection Problems: Should I Take Medicine?
dplink.gif 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 nitroglycerin.

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.

    This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: January 27, 2014
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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