Tablets
Viagra (sildenafil), Cialis (tadalafil) and Levitra
(vardenafil) are all drugs that can help men get
erections. They belong to a group of drugs
called PDE5 (phosphodiesterase type 5)
inhibitors and all work as well as each other.
You will need to have a desire or interest for
sex and some stimulation to the penis for the
tablets to work. After taking these tablets you
need to wait 30 minutes to an hour before
they start to work. Viagra and Levitra will have
an effect for around four hours. Cialis can
have an effect for about 36 hours.
If the maximum dose of one drug does not
work, one of the other drugs may be more
effective for you. The drugs may not work
straight away. You should try each tablet
at least four to eight times before deciding
how effective it is or changing to an
alternative tablet. It may also take a few
tries to get the timing right with your partner.
These tablets may not work as well after
a big meal, particularly one that contains
a lot of fatty foods.
Cialis (tadalafil) also comes in a one-a-day
version. This is also a successful treatment
for erectile dysfunction. You might prefer to
take a tablet once a day if you want to have
sex often or if you and your partner prefer
spontaneous rather than pre-planned sex.
All of these drugs can cause some side
effects including:
• Headaches
• Indigestion
• A flushed face
• Itchiness or swelling in your nose (rhinitis)
• Back pain
These side effects are usually mild and do not
last long.
You should not take PDE5 tablets if you are
taking a group of heart drugs called nitrates.
Nitrates are usually used to treat heart
problems. If you have a heart problem or are
using nitrates you should discuss this with
your GP or specialist before starting treatment
for your ED.
Some men take tablets for ED during the
weeks and months immediately after surgery,
before they are ready to have sex. The idea
behind this is that the medication, alongside
some gentle self-stimulation to the penis, may
encourage regular blood flow to the penis,
help your erections to return and could stop
your penis becoming smaller (see page 5).
These drugs do not increase your level of
sexual desire, known as your libido. They will
only help you to get an erection if you are
sexually stimulated.