Men's Health Thursday January 14, 2016

Side Effects Of Erectile Dysfunction Treatments

Erectile dysfunction (ED) is a common condition that affects men of all ages. The diagnosis is made when a man is sexually stimulated but is unable to achieve an erection or keep it.

Erectile dysfunction happens for many reasons. It often occurs due to insufficient blood flow to the penis. Physically obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes and smoking can cause ED, as well as emotional issues such as anxiety, depression and guilt. It's estimated that 10% of men suffer from erectile dysfunction and half of all men aged 40-70 will be affected at some point.

What Treatments Are There?

As erectile dysfunction can be caused by smoking and obesity it's important to be realistic about your health. Following a healthy diet with plenty of exercise will help you lose weight, and if you need help to quit smoking there are supportive treatments available. If you feel your problem is psychological then speak to your doctor about counselling or cognitive behaviour therapy.

Oral Prescriptions

These treatments are phosphodiesterase type 5 (PDE-5) inhibitors, which block the enzyme that prevents blood flow to the penis. All brands can produce side effects but, as they have differing active ingredients, some people may suit a particular treatment more than others.


Viagra is a particularly well-known and effective treatment used by 35 million men worldwide. Its active ingredient is sildenafil. Viagra is available in 25, 50 and 100 mgs doses.


Cialis' active ingredient is tadalafil. It's available in lower doses and is therefore easier to take in a smaller amount. It's the longest lasting of the medications, with results lasting for up to 36 hours.


Levitra's active ingredient is vardenafil. Like Cialis, Levitra is available in low doses but it's particularly suitable for the over 50s, diabetics and men with high blood pressure.


Spedra is a newer medication with the active ingredient avanafil. This medication isn't as likely to cause visual or hearing disturbances as a side effect. It's quick-working, sometimes within 15 minutes, but it's not thought to be as effective as other brands.

woman using tablet

(Kamagra and Silagra)

Kamagra and Silagra are erectile dysfunction medications manufactured in India. They are not approved for use in the UK. It is not safe to use Kamagra or Silagra as the ingredients are not guaranteed or regulated and they may damage your health.

What Are The Potential Side Effects?

Many men take erectile dysfunction medications without any problem, but a minority may experience an unwanted reaction. Facial flushing, headaches, indigestion or a blocked nose are most common. If these concern you, contact your GP.

Less common side effects include:

  • Skin rashes
  • Tiredness
  • Muscular aches
  • A ringing in the ears
  • Increased heart rate with palpations
  • Spinning and vertigo sensations
  • Eye problems such as blurred vision, increased sensitivity, or bloodshot eyes
  • Blood in the urine or semen
  • Dehydration
  • Vomiting
  • A numb sensation or pain sensitivity

Rare side effects include:

  • Nosebleeds
  • Decreased blood pressure
  • Light-headedness and fainting
  • Heart related effects e.g. stroke or angina
  • Seizures
  • Prolonged erection (priapism)
  • Severe blisters

Are There Any Contraindications For These Treatments?

Yes - take care when taking erectile dysfunction medication with other treatments, as some interactions are dangerous, such as with nitrate-based medicine. This includes alpha-blockers, heart attack or blood pressure medications, and liver or kidney disease medicines.

Using recreational drugs such as poppers can also be dangerous because they contain amyl nitrate.

Who Needs To Be Cautious?

Men taking medication for the following conditions:

  • Heart-related
  • Liver and kidney
  • Eye disease
  • Hearing
  • Low blood pressure

Plus any men who have suffered from or are at risk of a stroke, heart attack or other cardiovascular condition should speak to a doctor about whether erectile dysfunction medication is suitable for them.

How To Reduce The Risk of Side Effects

It is important to follow the instructions associated with each particular brand of ED medication. Never take more than the prescribed amount.

  • If side effects are experienced, a smaller dose may help. This is easier with Cialis and Levitra which are available in low doses.

  • Try changing brand. Viagra and Cialis are the most popular, but another may suit you better, as the active ingredient differs in each brand.

  • Avoid grapefruit juice as this can cause blood pressure dips.

  • Alcohol inhibits the effect of ED medication. Two units may prevent the medication from working or cause side effects.

  • Try taking the medication with food. It may interfere with absorption but can limit unwanted side effects.

  • Double check any current medication to ensure there are no interactions. Speak to a doctor if you are unsure.

Erectile dysfunction is common and if you are suffering you are not alone. If you've experienced side effects with a particular ED treatment, it is worth trying another option.

Whichever you use, all medications must be prescribed by your GP or by a trusted online pharmacy to guarantee their safety. Take our free online consultation with a qualified doctor today and find out which treatment will suit you best.

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