Medications Used to Treat Erectile Dysfunction

Medications Used to Treat Erectile Dysfunction

Treating Erectile Dysfunction

Erectile dysfunction (ED) is classified as a medical condition that often coincides with other underlying health problems. The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) estimates that it affects 30 million men in the United States.

There are several types of medications that may be used to treat ED. There are variations between ED medications, but all of them help improve sexual activity by stimulating blood flow. Talk to your doctor about your options, and avoid falling for trendy supplements.

Find out which doctors treat erectile dysfunction »


Alprostadil is an ED injection medication that’s available in the following brand names:

  • Caverject
  • Edex
  • Muse

These injections work on a short-term basis, and should be administered several minutes before having sex. Alprostadil is used as needed for up to three times per week. It’s injected directly into the penis.

This medication should not be used before driving or operating other machinery. The most common side effects include redness and irritation at the injection site.

Papaverine (Pavacot)

Papaverine is a medication used for blood circulation problems. It’s traditionally used for vascular disease. It’s also available as a daily oral capsule for men with ED to support better blood flow to the sex organs. Pavacot is the brand name of papaverine used for ED.

Some side effects may include:

  • abdominal pain
  • face flushing
  • headaches
  • increased blood pressure and/or heart rate
  • nausea
  • sweating


Sildenafil citrate is the active ingredient in the brand name ED medications Revatio and Viagra.

Sildenafil is also used to treat high blood pressure (hypertension). Revatio and Viagra are exclusive to ED treatment. Both are taken on a daily basis. Revatio is available as both tablets and injections. Viagra is available only in capsule form.

According to DailyMed, Viagra should be used only once a day, and one hour prior to sex. Revatio may be taken a few times per day. Headache is the most common side effect of these ED medications.


Tadalafil is a PDE5 inhibitor that increases blood flow throughout the body. Like other ED medications, tadalafil has other uses as well. The brand name drug Adcirca, for example, is used for both ED and pulmonary arterial hypertension. Adcirca is a daily 20-milligram (mg) tablet.

Cialis is another brand name medication with tadalafil as the active ingredient. Unlike Adcirca, Cialis is primarily used for ED. It’s also sometimes prescribed for benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), or enlarged prostate. Cialis is also taken once a day. DailyMed recommends starting with 2.5 mg per day. The amount may be increased to 5 mg a day.

Unlike other ED medications, tadalafil is taken at the same time each day, regardless of when sexual activity occurs. Headaches and nausea are the most common side effects of tadalafil.


As the primary sex hormone in the male body, testosterone plays many roles in overall health. Testosterone naturally drops with age, but it can have many adverse effects, including:

  • ED
  • fatigue
  • low sex drive
  • reduced sperm count
  • weight gain

Testosterone therapy is prescribed for men with low levels of this hormone. Also called low-T, the condition is one of the many causes of ED. Treatment can come in the form of:

  • oral medications (Android, Testred)
  • patches (Androderm, Fortesta)
  • shots (Aveed, Delatestryl,
  • sprays (Androbalance)
  • topical gels (Androgel, Natesto)

When considering ED, testosterone medications might help the underlying causes. This treatment option isn’t without risks. Some adverse effects include:

  • acne
  • enlargement of breasts and/or prostate
  • fluid retention
  • moodiness
  • sleep apnea


Vardenafil hydrochloride is a PDE5 inhibitor that increases blood flow to the penis. It is the active ingredient in Levitra and Staxyn.

Both of these medications were approved for the treatment of ED in 2003. While they share the same main ingredient, DailyMed says that Staxyn provides stronger effects. Also, both medications are taken as needed, but Levitra may be taken once a day as recommended by a doctor. Consider these facts when choosing between the two versions of vardenafil for ED. Side effects can include headaches, nausea, and dizziness.

Vitamins and Supplements

In recent years, the marketplace has been inundated with various ED supplements. Some of the manufacturers promise better sexual function, as well as increased energy and vitality. The problem is that these supplements are usually ineffective, as well as unsafe.

According to the NCCAM, some supplements might even contain medications despite being marketed as “all natural.” ED supplements can cause interactions and side effects from possible contaminants. Ask your doctor before using any vitamins or supplements for ED.

Read This Next

7 Alternatives to Viagra
Can Porn Induce Erectile Dysfunction?
What You Should Know About Massage Therapy and Erectile Dysfunction
Better Sex: Workouts to Boost Your Performance
Melatonin: A Treatment for Erectile Dysfunction?