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Medications for Erectile Dysfunction

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How do erectile dysfunction medicines work?

Cialis, Levitra and Viagra are designed to assist with blood flowing to the penis’s erectile tissue. They are not an aphrodisiac, so they work only when a man is sexually stimulated.

How effective are these medicines?

Cialis, Levitra, Viagra and Sildenafil have all had good results in helping some men achieve and maintain good erections. Every man is unique and the level of success these medicines can achieve depends on the level of sexual stimulation the man experiences as well as the underlying conditions (including the severity of those conditions) causing his erectile dysfunction. In general though, Viagra, Levitra and Cialis all have a great reputation for stopping the symptoms of erectile dysfunction.


  • If you do not achieve an erection, you may need to increase the dosage. Consult your doctor.
  • Take 10 mg of Levitra 30 minutes to one hour before you are ready to engage in sexual activity.
  • Levitra works best 30 minutes to four hours after taking the pill.
  • Levitra cannot be used with some medications. These include Flowmax, Hytrin and Cardura.


  • Within eight to 12 hours, Viagra is almost completely eliminated from the body.
  • Take 50 mg of Viagra one hour before you are ready to engage in sexual activity.
  • Viagra works best 30 minutes to four hours after taking the pill.
  • Viagra also works best on an empty stomach. Do not take the pill after a high-fat meal.
  • If you do not achieve an erection with sexual stimulation, you can increase the dosage of your medication the next time sexual activity is planned. After surgery, most men require doses of 100 mg, or more, of Viagra.


  • Take 10 mg of Cialis at least two hours before you are ready to engage in sexual activity.
  • Cialis can be taken on a full stomach following meals and the effect of medication may last up to 36 hours.
  • If you do not achieve an erection on 10 mg, higher dosages can be taken, though you must consult your doctor regarding higher doses.
  • Cialis cannot be used with some other medications. These include Hytrin and Cardura. Flomax in doses of 0.4 mg is well tolerated.

Side Effects

  • The most common side effects of oral medications for erectile dysfunction include headache, facial flushing and upset stomach.
  • A small number of patients taking Viagra or Levitra may complain of a “blue cast” to their vision, sensitivity to light or blurred vision.
  • Cialis does not cause visual side effects. However, back pain and joint aches can occur with Cialis.

Important Things to Remember

  • These medications must not be used with medications containing nitrate, such as nitroglycerin, Nitrostat, Nitro-Bid, Nitro-Dur, Isordil and Ismo, or Deponit.
  • Although Viagra, Levitra and Cialis have been shown to be effective in many men with erectile dysfunction, they are not effective in patients who have a prostatectomy, unless a nerve-sparing approach was used.