Erectile dysfunction, often abbreviated to ED, is a very common condition affecting more than half of all men over the age of 40. With this said, it’s not uncommon for men much younger to encounter issues in getting an erection. Men understandably often find matters regarding sub-optimal performance in the bedroom a rather sensitive topic, and many sufferers keep it to themselves rather than seeking appropriate treatment. Thankfully, the pharmacists at Pharmica (a popular online pharmacy in the UK) have put together this complete guide to ED treatment options.
Firstly, What’s Erectile Dysfunction?
Sometimes referred to as ‘impotence’, erectile dysfunction is when a man struggles to achieve or maintain an erection for the full duration of sexual intercourse. This might mean they can get erections but it fades before they reach orgasm, or that they struggle to get an erection initially. It is associated with issues around self-consciousness amongst men who may feel a certain pressure to be able to conjure and keep an erection, with potential feelings of lacking masculinity or inadequacy evolving. Whilst this is predominantly society’s doing in creating and reinforcing the stigma around erections, it can be damaging to self-confidence, and ultimately just prevent the sufferer from being able to have the most satisfying sex. The most important thing to remember as a man reading this is that you’re by no means alone, and effective medication can solve the issues.
Oral Treatment Options
Oral treatments are by far the best option in terms of balancing convenience, effectiveness and affordability. Typically in the form of a tablet that’s swallowed, one extensive study found oral ED medication to be effective in 90% of participants. They work by increasing the blood flow to the penis following sexual arousal, by preventing constrictions in blood vessels. The end result is a powerful erection that can last the full during of sex. One key point to note is that erectile dysfunction treatment won’t act as a substitute for sexual arousal; you must want to be engaging in sexual activity and be ready to get into the right headspace. Now I know what you’re thinking, what if I get anxious during the build-up to sex and can’t get aroused? Most men that are in this boat find this doesn’t get in the way of the treatment’s effectiveness, in part due to knowing that physically you are unlikely to have any problems converting mental arousal to physical presence in the bedroom when on the medication, so men tend to go in with greater confidence and this pays dividends.
Viagra is usually the household name that springs to mind when pondering bedroom enhancers. Viagra is the brand name of the generic medication ‘sildenafil’, containing sildenafil citrate which is the active ingredient. This ingredient relaxes your muscles and increases the blood flow to the penis, in turn helping men to achieve an erection. After swallowing the tablet, the medication will take effect between 30 and 60 minutes later. The medicine will be in the body for up to 4 hours, meaning that if needed 1 Viagra pill can be used to help your erection for up to 4 hours, although does not mean you are stuck with an erection for 4 hours straight; it will subside either after you’ve orgasmed or after you’ve lost sexual arousal. For best results, we recommend taking Viagra on an empty stomach (as a full stomach can delay your erection) and alcohol should be avoided.
Viagra comes in 2 variants, the normal Viagra which is a prescription medication, or the over-the-counter Viagra Connect. The standard Viagra is a prescription medication as it can come in stronger doses per tablet if needed, this can be easily obtained from your doctor or pharmacist if you are encountering erectile dysfunction and have no underlying health conditions that might make you ineligible.
Sildenafil is the active component of the popular Viagra, but is available to buy as the generic product after the exclusivity licence on Viagra expired. This is great news for the consumer as it means the exact same quantities of the active ingredient are available now at a fraction of the cost, due to not having the well-known brand attached. It works in exactly the same way as the aforementioned Viagra tablets.
Cialis / Tadalafil
Cialis is the popular branded version of the generic Tadalafil medication, similar to Viagra vs Sildenafil. Tadalafil has a similar effect on the body as Sildenafil, enabling blood to flow more easily to and through the penis. There are a few differences with Tadalafil which make it a great option compared to Sildenafil. Firstly, it works quicker, taking effect between 15 and 30 minutes after swallowing. Secondly, Tadalafil 36 hours stays in the body for, you guessed it, up to 36 hours, meaning you can get multiple ‘uses’ out of one tablet, and have a longer window in which to operate in. Tadalafil Daily, a lower dose that’s taken once daily, prepares you for more spontaneous sexual intercourse. Thirdly, it comes out slightly more cost-effective than Viagra.
Levitra / Vardenafil
Levitra, the popular brand name of the generic Vardenafil, works in very much the same way as the other treatments previously mentioned. Typically becoming effective 25-60 minutes after taking, it is effective in the body for 4 to 5 hours. Vardenafil is the recommended treatment for diabetics, but otherwise functions in a similar way to Sildenafil.
Lifestyle Factors to Consider
Ultimately, your body might respond differently to the different treatment options, so it’s worth comparing treatments to find what works best for you. Oral treatments are a quick and easy method of obtaining a lasting erection, but can be costly. Whilst erectile function is common with age, there are a number of lifestyle factors that could be contributing to the issue. Here are some risk factors associated with the condition that you may want to consider:
- Excessive alcohol consumption
- Mental health issues
- Cardiovascular disease
- Reduced testosterone production with age