How to Make ED Drugs Work Better

Medically Reviewed by Nazia Q Bandukwala, DO on March 16, 2023
2 min read

If you take a prescription drug for erectile dysfunction (ED), you'll want to do everything you can to make sure it's doing its job. Take a few minutes to learn how to get the most out of your medication. It will pay off later in the bedroom.

Sometimes eating a big meal right after you take an ED drug may not always be the best idea. If you swallow sildenafil (Viagra) with a high-fat meal, such as a steak dinner, it may take longer for it to work.

You can take other ED drugs with or without food, such as:

While ED drugs work in similar ways, they're each made up of different chemicals. This can affect how they work, how much time they take to kick in, and the different side effects that you may have.

Talk to your doctor about any health problems you have and other medications that you take. It will help your doctor find the ED drug that should work best for you.

For most ED drugs, you need to wait a while before you can expect them to start working. How long varies with the drug.

Viagra and Levitra take about 30 minutes to work, and the effects last for about 4 hours after you take the pill.

You should take Cialis at least 2 hours before you plan to have sex. The effects may last for up to 36 hours after you take it.

If the amount of medicine you use now doesn't help you get an erection, you may need to take a bigger dose. But don't do this on your own. Talk to your doctor to see if an increase in medication is right for you. 

Time is on your side. You can't take an ED drug and expect to get an erection right away. The medications boost the effects of a chemical your body makes called nitric oxide, which relaxes the muscles in your penis. That improves your blood flow and helps you get an erection.

But for the drugs to work, you need to be sexually aroused. So don't rush things. Take some time to get into the mood. Use all of your senses to get turned on.

Do you have a heart condition? Pay attention to this: Don't take ED drugs if you also take heart medicines called nitrates. The combination can cause a dangerous drop in your blood pressure.

To make sure you stay safe, talk to your doctor about all of the medications you take.