linked in pixel
Older man kissing his wife at the beach

The 4 Drugs Doctors Prescribe for Erectile Dysfunction

Pinterest Logo

Erectile dysfunction is the persistent inability to achieve and maintain an erection firm enough for sexual intercourse. It affects more than 18 million men in the United States, or 18.4% of the male population over the age of 20, according to the American Journal of Medicine.

It is the most common sex problem that men report to their doctors. Many men experience occasional problems with erections. However, if it happens routinely, it is a problem. In addition to preventing successful intercourse, it can cause stress, affect a person’s self-confidence, and contribute to relationship problems.

The good news is that this demoralizing condition can in many cases be successfully treated with medication. Treatment can reestablish erectile function and enhance the quality of life for the millions of men who experience it.

What causes ED?

Factors related to physical and mental problems can cause ED, which was formerly called impotence. It can have more than one cause.

The following physical issues can contribute to erectile dysfunction:

  • heart disease
  • high blood pressure
  • high cholesterol
  • diabetes
  • prostate problems
  • obesity
  • smoking
  • side effects from medications

The following emotional problems also can contribute to ED:

  • depression
  • stress
  • anxiety
  • relationship issues

Doctors typically diagnose erectile dysfunction by learning about a patient’s medical and sexual history and conducting mental health and physical examinations. A cardiovascular workup is often recommended since erectile dysfunction can be the first sign of heart issues.

Several popular anti-depressant medications have been linked to erectile dysfunction in some men. Consulting a medical professional can help people who experience ED while on anti-depressants work around this problem.

Men often find it difficult to talk with a health care professional about ED, but it’s an important first step in addressing the issue. Primary care physicians will sometimes refer patients to a urologist to help form a diagnosis and treatment plan.

ED meds

Sildenafil, sold under the brand name Viagra, was approved for use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in March of 1998, becoming the first oral treatment available to treat erectile dysfunction. It has become one of the most widely known prescription drug names on the U.S. market.

Since Viagra hit the market, the FDA approved three other ED pills of the same class for the treatment of ED:

  1. avanafil (Stendra)
  2. tadalafil (Cialis)
  3. vardenafil (Levitra)

The four medications work in a similar fashion. They improve blood supply to the penis, which when combined with sexual stimulation helps produce and maintain an erection sufficient for sexual intercourse.

According to the American Urological Association, about 70% of men respond well to the ED pills.

The medications are generally well tolerated. However, men who take heart medicines called nitrates should not take erectile dysfunction medication. The combination can cause a dangerous drop in blood pressure.

If these pills do not work, other treatment options exist. Your urologist can work with you to discuss other treatment options that will work; almost all erectile dysfunction can be treated.

Bottom line

Erectile dysfunction is not a condition that men must live with. It could be caused by an underlying medical condition that requires treatment. A proper diagnosis can both address the underlying condition and resolve sexual difficulties.

Most erectile dysfunction cases are treatable. That treatment can result in better overall physical and emotional health and improved intimacy for couples.

Learn more about urologist Eric Laborde, MD

You may also be interested in: