Popular Impotence Meds to Treat Erectile Dysfunction

Impotence is a common condition that is seen with increasing frequency as a man ages, but a number of impotence meds can help men address this condition, also known as erectile dysfunction (ED).

These drugs are administered in one of three ways: orally, by injection into the penis or through insertion into the urethra.

The first of the oral impotence drugs to be approved by the FDA for erectile dysfunction was sildenafil, known by the name Viagra. Like two other drugs approved since then—Cialis and Levitra—Viagra is a type of phosphodiesterase (PDE) inhibitor. PDE inhibitors are taken an hour before sexual activity and enhance the effects of nitric oxide. During sexual stimulation, this chemical relaxes smooth muscles in the penis and allows for increased blood flow.

These oral impotence drugs cannot be taken more than once a day, and cannot be used by men who take nitrate-based drugs for heart conditions, as the combination of the two may cause dangerous drops in blood pressure. However, it’s important that men mention all medications they are taking when talking with their doctors about drugs to treat impotence, as the dosage may need to adjusted accordingly.

What about injectable ED meds?

Injectable impotence meds can help some men achieve stronger erections by causing the penis to fill with blood. Examples of medications that are directly injected into the penis to treat erectile dysfunction include alprostadil (marketed as Caverject), papaverine hydrochloride and phentolamine, all of which work buy widening blood vessels. In addition, sometimes nitroglycerin ointment is rubbed on the penis to enhance an erection. Side effects of injectable medications include scarring of the penis and persistent erection. 

Alprostadil (marketed as MUSE) is also inserted into the urethra using a prefilled applicator to insert a pellet containing this medication approximately an inch into the urethra. This causes an erection within eight to 10 minutes that can last 30 to 60 minutes. Side effects include a warm or burning feeling in the urethra, minor bleeding, redness and aching in the penis, testicles and perineum (the area between the penis in the rectum).

What you need to know

It’s important to note that several medications can contribute to impotence, and switching to a different medication may help to alleviate this side effect. For example, some blood pressure drugs can cause men to have difficulty achieving or maintaining an erection. Any man who thinks a medication he’s taking might be slashing his sexual function should talk to his doctor. Ceasing to take or cutting back on a prescription med with a doctor’s supervision can have potentially dangerous or even deadly consequences.

Impotence meds of several kinds can help men regain their sexual function. For many men dealing with erectile dysfunction, these drugs offer a welcome solution.


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