Get to know your erectile dysfunction medication

Can you believe at one time medication for erectile dysfunction (ED) was hush-hush…men didn’t talk about their problem and worse yet, men who needed it, often felt stigmatized for not being able to “get it up.”

Today, things have (thankfully) changed. The stigma is mostly gone as more men are becoming comfortable discussing ED with their doctors and one another. But, how men approach ED medication use, likely needs some fine-tuning. For instance, some men view ED drugs as their answer to an unfulfilled sex life. They may mistakenly believe an ED drug is a quick fix for low libido, premature ejaculation, or the inability to achieve orgasm. They are not. The sole purpose of ED medications is to address helping men get and maintain an erection. That’s it. The drugs for ED help improve blood flow into the penis and keep the blood in place to maintain an erection for sexual intercourse. However, improving sexual satisfaction can result in men having improved self-esteem and confidence in the bedroom. 

Men may believe they already know everything about ED medications. But, in reality, many men could brush up on their knowledge of ED drugs. Here’s a brief rundown of the current medications available for treating ED:

  • Avanafil (Stendra) – Onset begins within 15 to 30 minutes of taking, lasting 6 to 12 hours.
  • Sildenafil (Viagra) – Onset begins within 30 to 60 minutes of taking, lasting 4 to 5 hours.
  • Tadalafil (Cialis) Onset begins within 30 to 45 minutes of taking, lasting 24 to 36 hours.
  • Vardenafil (Levitra) Onset begins within 30 to 60 minutes of taking, lasting 4 to 5 hours. 

How will you know which ED drug is right for you?

Up to half of men ages 40 to 70 have erectile dysfunction to some degree. The decision by doctors of which ED drug is right is often based on trial and error.  There are differences between ED meds; usually, for new patients diagnosed with ED, the doctor will have men try different ones to see what works best. 

Viagra is often prescribed first by most doctors – it’s been around the longest and has a high success rate. But if Viagra is not working after a certain length of time, then another ED drug can be used. 

The other challenge of finding the right ED medication is based on what a man’s insurance plan will cover. Also, insurers may limit the number of pills a man can take a month. Once a man has used up his allotment for the month, a single pill, when paid out-of-cost, can be as high as $20.

Be aware of ED medication side effects

Almost all medications come with side effects and ED meds are no different.  Common side effects men may experience include headaches, upset stomach, nasal congestion, muscle pain, and facial flushing. Generally, any side effects a man notices are mild and disappear within a few hours.

Any man taking nitrates, a cardiac drug, should not be prescribed any ED medications. ED drugs can lead to a dangerously low blood pressure in men on this medication. Other medications, such as alpha-blockers like Flomax and Uroxatral, used to treat symptoms of an enlarged prostate, can lower blood pressure in some men.

ED medications do not increase sexual desire

Remember, the sole purpose of an ED medication is to cause the penis to become erect and to keep an erection for a sufficient length of time for sexual functioning. ED drugs will not increase sexual desire or cause a man to become sexually stimulated. Men will need to be mentally prepared and sexually stimulated to have them work. Any man experiencing sexual relationship problems cannot expect the medication to cure or fix that.  

The reasons for ED are many.  It’s not always simply because a man is getting older or maybe has a medical condition affecting his blood flow such as heart disease or type 2 diabetes.  Stress, depression, alcoholism, or sexual performance issues are other factors possibly inhibiting a man’s ability to achieve an erection. In other words, ED can be more of a psychological problem than a physical problem. If so, a man should ask his primary care physician for a referral to a sex therapist or psychologist that could benefit him and his partner. 

Shopping for ED drugs

Like all prescribed medications, the cost of ED drugs will vary depending on certain circumstances.  These include health insurance coverage; if they do cover it, the number of pills may be limited per month. 

To be an economical shopper when looking for ED medications, shop smart by looking for ways to help reduce costs.  Men can start by asking their doctor about splitting higher-dose pills to make the supply last longer; check into discount programs by manufacturers of ED pills that may allow a man to get a limited supply of pills not covered by insurance, or order ED meds online from a reputable pharmacy. This helps avoid the unfortunate possibility of getting ED pills that do not contain the right ingredients or are made with ingredients that could be potentially harmful.


Dr. David Samadi is the Director of Men’s Health and Urologic Oncology at St. Francis Hospital in Long Island. He’s a renowned and highly successful board certified Urologic Oncologist Expert and Robotic Surgeon in New York City, regarded as one of the leading prostate surgeons in the U.S., with a vast expertise in prostate cancer treatment and Robotic-Assisted Laparoscopic Prostatectomy.  Dr. Samadi is a medical contributor to NewsMax TV and is also the author of The Ultimate MANual, Dr. Samadi’s Guide to Men’s Health and Wellness, available online both on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Visit Dr. Samadi’s websites at robotic oncology and prostate cancer 911. 

Get to know your erectile dysfunction medication
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Dr. David B. Samadi

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Dr. David B. Samadi