Erectile Dysfunction Pills—Do They Work?
ED Can Cause Anxiety and Depression
More than 18 million men over the age of 20 are affected by erectile dysfunction (ED), according to the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. A 2006 study published in Urologic Nursing reported that men who experience ED can suffer other related health issues. These may include anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, and a decrease in quality of life.
Fortunately, there are a number of pills that help treat ED. Find out which ones are likely to work best.
Most Men Go Without Treatment
There are many ED treatments on the market. A recent study found that most men are not taking advantage of them, however. The American Urological Association reports that only about a quarter of men affected by ED seek treatment for it. The other three quarters go without treatment.
Ignoring ED can be dangerous. A 2010 study of nearly 12,000 subjects reported that men who fail to seek help for ED could have undetected heart disease, since the two are typically related.
Ignoring It Can Make It Worse
Men may feel that there is no harm in waiting, but some health experts disagree. Dr. Stephen M. Auerbach, writing in PCRI Insights, states that delaying ED treatment for more than a few months can make the problem worse.
Men may become even more nervous and anxious when engaging in sexual relations. They may experience more failures that lead to depression. And without regular erections, according to Dr. Auerbach, some men can develop scarring of the erectile tissue that can result in penile shrinkage.
Check for Underlying Problems
Since ED is often related to other health issues, it’s best to get a complete checkup. Treating any underlying cause will often help improve the ED as well.
- cardiovascular disease
- alcohol use
- neurologic disease
- pelvic radiation
Pill #1—PDE-5 Inhibitors
Treating the underlying cause of ED is often the most important step. Doctors are also likely to suggest specific treatments for the symptoms themselves. The most commonly recommended medications are called “PDE-5 inhibitors.”
Viagra, Levitra, and Cialis are all PDE-5 inhibitors approved by the FDA for treating ED. They work by protecting a certain enzyme called “cyclic GMP.” This enzyme helps trap blood in the penile tissue during sexual stimulation, encouraging an erection.
Effectiveness of PDE-5 Inhibitors
A 2006 study on PDE-5 inhibitors found that Viagra was more effective than Cialis and Levitra. The authors noted all were “highly effective,” however. At maximum dosage, they all improved erectile dysfunction by 7-10 points on the International Index of Erectile Function (IIEF) scale.
The University of Maryland Medical Center agrees that PDE-5 inhibitors are a good choice for healthy men. Those taking nitrate drugs for angina, or who use alpha-blockers to high blood pressure, however, should not take them.
Pill #2—Hormone Replacement Therapy
Do all men need more testosterone as they age? Some companies like us to think so. Johns Hopkins Medicine, however, says that only men who are truly deficient in testosterone benefit from supplementation.
A 2012 study noted that age-associated testosterone deficiency is characterized by symptoms such as ED. Testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) helps restore blood levels of testosterone in men. Whether it helps improve ED, however, is still unclear. It likely depends on what’s causing the ED in the first place.
Pill #3—Penile Suppositories
Some medications that are administered via an injection are also available as pill suppositories. Alprostadil (MUSE) is one of these. It works by causing blood vessels to expand, allowing more blood to flow into the penis. Users simply place the pill into the opening at the tip. When delivered this way, however, the medication is less effective than when delivered via injection.
According to findings from researchers at the Cleveland Clinic, 73 percent of men were able to go through successful intercourse after using MUSE.
Prescription yohimbe (yohimbine hydrochloride) is derived from yohimbe bark, which comes from a native African evergreen tree. Used as an aphrodisiac for years, it was approved by the FDA as a prescription treatment for ED in the late 1980s. Scientists believe it works by stimulating blood flow to the penis.
Studies on yohimbe have shown mixed results. A 1989 study, for instance, showed the treatment was fully effective in 14 percent of patients. Twenty percent received a partial response and 65 percent showed no improvement.
Pill #5—Korean Red Ginseng
Men looking for natural treatments for ED may want to try Korean red ginseng. A 2002 study published in the Journal of Urology found that it may help. A total of 60 percent of participants reported improved erections.
Another systematic review of studies on Korean red ginseng published in 2008 concluded that there is sufficient evidence that the herb can help treat ED.
- 18 Million Men in the United States Affected by Erectile Dysfunction. (2007, February 1). Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Retrieved June 14, 2013, from http://www.jhsph.edu/news/news-releases/2007/selvin-erectile-dysfunction.html
- Araujo, A.B. et al. (1998, July 1). The relationship between depressive symptoms and male erectile dysfunction: cross-sectional results from the Massachusetts Male Aging Study. Psychosomatic Medicine, 60(4), 458-465. Retrieved June 14, 2013, from http://www.psychosomaticmedicine.org/content/60/4/458.short
- Auerbach, S.M. (2005, August). The Treatment of Erectile Dysfunction. PCRI Insights, 8(3). Retrieved June 14, 2013, from http://prostate-cancer.org/the-treatment-of-erectile-dysfunction/
- Berner, M.M. et al. (2006, May-June). Efficacy of PDE-5-inhibitors for erectile dysfunction. A comparative meta-analysis of fixed-dose regimen randomized controlled trials administering the International Index of Erectile Function in broad-spectrum populations. International Journal of Impotence Research, 18(3), 229-235. Retrieved June 14, 2013, from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16239897
- DiMeo, P.J. (2006). Psychosocial and Relationship Issues in Men With Erectile Dysfunction. Urologic Nursing, 26(6), 442-446. Retrieved June 14, 2013, from http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/551562_4
- Erectile Dysfunction. (n.d.). American Urological Association. Retrieved June 14, 2013, from https://www.auanet.org/education/erectile-dysfunction.cfm
- Erectile Dysfunction. (2012, November). Cleveland Clinic Center for Continuing Education., Retrieved June 14, 2013, from http://www.clevelandclinicmeded.com/medicalpubs/diseasemanagement/endocrinology/erectile-dysfunction/
- Erectile dysfunction. (2012, September 19). University of Maryland Medical Center. Retrieved June 14, 2013, from http://umm.edu/health/medical/reports/articles/erectile-dysfunction
- Hong, B. et al. (2002, November). A double-blind crossover study evaluating the efficacy of korean red ginseng in patients with erectile dysfunction: a preliminary report. Journal of Urology, 168(5), 2070-2073. Retrieved June 14, 2013, from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12394711
- Iacono, F. et al. (2012). Testosterone deficiency causes penile fibrosis and organic erectile dysfunction in aging men. Evaluating association among Age, TDS and ED. BMC Surgery, 12(Suppl. 1), S24. Retrieved June 18, 2013, from http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-2482/12/S1/S24
- Impotence/Erectile Dysfunction. (n.d.). Johns Hopkins Medicine. Retrieved June 14, 2013, from http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/healthlibrary/conditions/adult/kidney_and_urinary_system_disorders/impotence_erectile_dysfunction_85,P01482/
- Jang, Dai-Ja, et al. (2008, October). Red ginseng for treating erectile dysfunction: a systematic review. British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, 66(4), 444-450. Retrieved June 14, 2013, from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2561113/
- Majority of Men Do Not Treat Their Erectile Dysfunction. (2013, May 6). American Urological Association. Retrieved June 25, 2013, from https://www.auanet.org/advnews/press_releases/article.cfm?articleNo=307
- Schnetzler, G. et al. (2010, March). Characteristics, Behaviors, and Attitudes of Men Bypassing the Healthcare System When Obtaining Phosphodiesterase Type 5 Inhibitors. The Journal of Sexual Medicine, 7(3), 1237-1246. Retrieved June 14, 2013, from http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1743-6109.2009.01674.x/abstract;jsessionid=F58813DF93A4087B2D26D01DD4162328.d04t01
- Susset, J.G. et al. (1989, June). Effect of yohimbine hydrochloride on erectile impotence: a double-blind study. Journal of Urology, 141(6), 1360-1363. Retrieved June 14, 2013, from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2657105