(MayoClinic.com) Viagra, Levitra or Cialis is often the first oral medication tried 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 or Staxyn) and tadalafil (Cialis) are all medications that reverse erectile dysfunction by increasing nitric oxide, a chemical naturally produced by your body. Nitric oxide opens and relaxes blood vessels in the penis, helping you get and keep an erection. These erectile dysfunction medications don't increase your sex drive and only cause erections when you are sexually stimulated.
Although they work in similar ways, each of these medications 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 when deciding if one of these medications is a good choice for you. Your doctor will also consider any health problems you have and possible interactions with other medications you take.
|Viagra, Levitra||Cialis (small dose daily)||Cialis (36-hour)|
|How to take it||Without food, no more than once a day||With or without food, once a day||With or without food, no more than once a day|
|When to take it||About 30-60 minutes before sex||Anytime||About 30 minutes before sex|
|How long it's effective||Up to 5 hours||Anytime between doses||Up to 36 hours|
Vardenafil (Levitra) can also be prescribed in a tablet that dissolves on the tongue (Staxyn).
A new medication, avanafil (Stendra), was approved in April 2012 by the Food and Drug Administration for treating erectile dysfunction. Stendra works similarly to Viagra, Levitra and Cialis.When these medications may not be safe
Not all men can safely take erectile dysfunction medications. They can be dangerous if you have certain health problems or you're taking particular medications. Erectile dysfunction medications may not be safe if you have:
Never take Viagra, Levitra or Cialis if you take nitrate drugs to treat heart pain (angina). Like Viagra, Levitra and Cialis, nitrate drugs dilate blood vessels. Their combined effects can cause dangerously low blood pressure and loss of consciousness. Medications that contain nitrates include:
Tell your doctor about any medications you're taking. A number of other drugs can also interact with Viagra, Levitra or Cialis. They include:
Most men who take Viagra, Levitra and Cialis aren't bothered by side effects. When side effects do occur, they can include:
In a small number of cases, men taking Viagra, Levitra or Cialis have reported more serious side effects:
Taking Viagra, Levitra or Cialis without treating the original problem may improve sexual performance. But it doesn't address the root cause of this symptom. Getting proper treatment for the underlying cause of erectile dysfunction may help prevent related health problems and improve sexual function as well. Conditions that can cause or worsen erectile dysfunction include:
As with other prescription drugs, erectile dysfunction medications can be purchased over the Internet. But be careful. Products for erectile dysfunction are big business, and online scams abound. If you do purchase medications over the Internet:
Occasional erectile dysfunction is a common problem, particularly as men age. Medication may not make you feel like you're 20 again, but it might help you achieve a more satisfying sex life. For some men, Viagra, Levitra and Cialis aren't a safe or effective choice, but other treatment options for erectile dysfunction may work. These include medications that are injected into the penis or put into the opening of the penis before sex, penis pumps (vacuum constriction devices), and surgically placed penis implants. Work with your doctor to find which erectile dysfunction treatment might work best for you.
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