Oral medications are often the first line of treatment for erectile dysfunction. For most men who have trouble keeping an erection firm enough for sex (erectile dysfunction), these medications work well and cause few side effects.
Sildenafil (Viagra), vardenafil (Levitra, Staxyn), tadalafil (Cialis) and avanafil (Stendra) are oral medications that reverse erectile dysfunction by enhancing the effects of nitric oxide, a natural chemical your body produces that relaxes muscles in the penis. This increases blood flow and allows you to get an erection in response to sexual stimulation.
Although they work in similar ways, each oral medication has a slightly different chemical makeup. These minor differences affect the way each medication works, such as how quickly it takes effect and wears off, and the potential side effects. Your doctor will consider these factors as well as other conditions you have and possible interactions with other medications you take.
Vardenafil (Levitra, Staxyn). This medication also is most effective when taken one hour before sex and can be taken with or without food. A high-fat meal might keep it from absorbing as quickly.
Vardenafil is effective for four to five hours or more if you have mild to moderate erectile dysfunction. A newer form of the drug that dissolves on the tongue might work faster than the pill that you swallow.
Because these drugs are similarly effective, the American College of Physicians recommends that the choice be based on your preferences, including cost, ease of use, how long the drug's effects last and side effects. There are generic versions of sildenafil, vardenafil and tadalafil available.
Before taking any medication for erectile dysfunction, get your doctor's OK. Medications for erectile dysfunction might not work or might be dangerous if you:
Most men who take oral erectile dysfunction medications aren't bothered by side effects. When side effects do occur, they can include:
Rarely, more-serious side effects can occur, including:
Treatments for erectile dysfunction are big business, and online scams abound. If you do buy medications over the internet: