What is erectile dysfunction?
Erectile dysfunction is when a man can't get an erection to have sex or can't keep an erection long enough to finish having sex. (also called impotence). Erectile dysfunction can occur at any age, but it is more common in men older than 60 years of age.
How is erectile dysfunction treated?
Measures that help prevent or control conditions that contribute to erectile dysfunction, such as high blood pressure, atherosclerosis, and diabetes, may also help improve erectile dysfunction, although the effect may be small. For example, losing excess weight, exercising, and stopping smoking may help. Some men and their partners may choose not to pursue any treatment for erectile dysfunction. Physical contact without an erection may satisfy their needs for intimacy and fulfillment.
Many drugs are used to treat erectile dysfunction. Most drugs that are given to treat erectile dysfunction increase blood flow to the penis. Most of these drugs are given by mouth, but some drugs can be applied locally—by injection or insertion into the penis.
Sildenafil, Vardenafil and Tadalafil are known as phosphodiesterase inhibitors. These are the drugs most frequently used to treat erectile dysfunction. They are effective in about 70 to 85% of men with erectile dysfunction. These drugs are taken by mouth about 1 hour before sexual activity.
Tadalafil is effective for about a day, longer than sildenafil and vardenafil, which are effective for about 4 to 6 hours. The drugs are effective only when the man is sexually aroused. Side effects of phosphodiesterase inhibitors include headache, flushing, stuffy nose, upset stomach, and vision problems. More serious side effects, including dangerously low blood pressure, can occur when phosphodiesterase inhibitors are taken with certain other drugs (such as nitroglycerin or amyl nitrite). Because of this risk, men should not take phosphodiesterase inhibitors if they take nitroglycerin.