Hadley Finch introduction: This article series is designed to help almost 30 million men over 40 and their intimate partners deal with erectile dysfunction “ED”. In Part 1 you learned why a penis and sexual function change as a man ages. Now, you’ll discover the risks and rewards of the top 4 FDA-approved drugs and medical interventions to treat ED in this guest article by WebMD experts in men’s sexual health.
Erectile Dysfunction: Cialis, Levitra, Staxyn, and Viagra to Treat ED
There are only four oral drugs approved by the FDA to treat erectile dysfunction: Cialis, Levitra, Staxyn, and Viagra. All work by increasing the flow of blood into the penis so that when a man is sexually stimulated, he can get an erection.
What Are the Differences Between Cialis, Levitra, Staxyn, and Viagra?
Cialis, Levitra, Staxyn, and Viagra work by a similar mechanism to cause erections. There are subtle differences in how long the drug works and how quickly it works. Levitra works a little longer than Viagra. They both take effect in about 30 minutes. With Levitra, the effects last for about 5 hours. With Viagra, the effects last approximately 4 hours.
Cialis works a bit faster (within about 15 minutes), and the effects last much longer — up to 36 hours in some cases. Staxyn is an orally disintegrating tablet that contains the same active ingredient as Levitra but is not interchangeable with Levitra tablets.
If One of These Drugs Isn’t Effective for Erectile Dysfunction, Can A Man Try Another?
Yes, but because these drugs work the same way, it’s unlikely that you’ll have success with one if you’ve failed to achieve an adequate erection with another.
What Precautions Should A Man Take Before Taking One of These Drugs?
There are certain situations in which these drugs may not be safe to take. Before taking them, tell your doctor:
If you are allergic to any drugs, including Viagra or other ED medications.
About any prescription or nonprescription medications you are currently taking, including herbal and dietary supplements.
If you are scheduled for surgery, including dental surgery.
If you take nitroglycerin or a long-acting nitrate to treat chest pain. The combination of Cialis, Levitra, Staxyn, or Viagra with these drugs can cause dangerously low blood pressure.
If you take alpha-blockers for blood pressure or prostate problems. The combination of Cialis, Levitra, Staxyn, or Viagra with these drugs can also cause dangerously low blood pressure. Patients should not be started on Staxyn unless they have previously taken Levitra as directed by their doctor.
In addition, always follow the directions on your prescription label carefully and ask your doctor or pharmacist to explain any part that you do not understand. Take these drugs exactly as directed. Do not take more or less or take it more often than prescribed by your doctor. Do not take these drugs more than once a day.
Who Should Not Take Cialis, Levitra, Staxyn, or Viagra?
If you have suffered from a heart attack, stroke or life threatening arrhythmia (irregular heart rate) within the last 6 months you should discuss other options with your doctor. It is also advised to avoid these drugs if you have uncontrolled high or low blood pressure or if you experience chest pain with sex.
What are some other medical interventions to treat ED?
While pills for ED are convenient, some men sustain stronger erections by injecting medication directly into the penis. Drugs approved for this purpose work by widening the blood vessels, causing the penis to become engorged with blood. Another option is inserting a medicated pellet into the urethra. The pellet can trigger an erection within 10 minutes.
Vacuum Devices (Pumps)
Vacuum devices for ED, also called pumps, offer an alternative to medication. The penis is placed inside a cylinder. A pump draws air out of the cylinder, creating a partial vacuum around the penis. This causes it to fill with blood, leading to an erection. An elastic band worn around the base of the penis maintains the erection during intercourse.
In men with persistent ED, a penile implant can restore sexual function. An inflatable implant uses two cylinders that are surgically placed inside the penis. When an erection is desired, the man uses a pump to fill the cylinders with pressurized fluid. Another option is a malleable implant, which bolsters erections with surgically implanted rods.
How safe and effective are the natural, non-prescription treatments of ED?
Get the answers in Part 3 of our series exploring leading ways to resolve ED and revive sexual passion and performance in a relationship.
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