Oral Medication ED Treatments
The first tablet to treat ED that could be taken by mouth was launched in 1998. Prior to this, the first line treatment was a self-adminstered injection of a drug to the penis. So, a tablet that could simply be swallowed made a huge impact. There are now four different pills licensed in the UK for the treatment of ED:
- sildenafil (Viagra®);
- tadalafil (Cialis®);
- vardenafil (Levitra®);
- avanafil (Spedra®).
All of these drugs work by increasing the blood flow to your penis. So, even if the nerves or blood vessels in or going to your penis are not correctly functioning, these tablets can cause an erection. Fortunately, none of these tablets will cause an erection if you are not sexually aroused.
All four drugs work by affecting the same chemical pathway. The drugs inhibit the cGMP which is the chemical that dilates (widens) the blood vessels when you are sexually aroused. Because of this, these medicines are all part of a group of drugs called phosphodiesterase type 5 (PDE-5) inhibitors.
Rather than taking the tablets each day, you take a dose before you plan to have sex. Som one criticism of these treatments is the removal of spontaneity from your sex life.
Although PDE-5 inhibitors can treat ED caused by a range of underlying conditions, they treat the symptoms of ED and not the cause. So, ED tablets are not a cure for erectile dysfunction. However, the medicine works well in most (about 8 in 10) cases. But they do not work in every case. In addition, they may work better when combined with additional treatments. One such treatment is shockwave therapy for ED.
Where the tablets differ is how long before sex they need to be taken and how long they are active for. Also, there are differences in the side-effects of the various drugs.
Other medication that you are taking may rule out some of the tablets. And the same applies if you have certain other medical conditions. If may be that you are not able to take any of the PDE-5 inhibitors. For example, if you suffer from angina and are taking a nitrate medicine such as glyceryl trinitrate (GTN). Also, if you are taking an alpha-blocker such as doxazosin, indoramin, terazosin or prazosin for high blood pressure then you must be on a stable dose before taking a PDE-5 inhibitor. This is because the combination of drugs can cause a sudden drop in blood pressure.