Viagra is a well-known drug for the treatment of erectile dysfunction. This is a distressing and common condition in which a man is not able to achieve or maintain a full penile erection.
There are many alternatives to Viagra that can improve or reverse the symptoms of erectile dysfunction. These options include drugs, medical treatments, lifestyle changes, and alternative remedies.
This article introduces the options available for treating erectile dysfunction.
There are several alternatives to Viagra available to men with erectile dysfunction.
Oral drugs, including Viagra, are frequently the first course of treatment for men with erectile dysfunction.
Alternative, prescription-only PDE5 inhibitors to Viagra include:
- Vardenafil: Sold under the brand names Levitra and Staxyn, this drug is available in tablet and disintegrating tablet form. To be effective, take vardenafil one hour before sex. It can be effective for up to 7 hours.
- Tadalafil: Available under the brand names Adcirca and Cialis, take tadalafil between 1 to 2 hours before sex. These tablets function for 36 hours.
- Avanafil: Marketed in the U.S. as Stendra, take avanafil tablets 15 to 30 minutes before sex. The effects can last up to 6 hours.
Alternatives to oral medications include:
- Penile self-injections: Ceratin medications, such as alprostadil, papaverine, and phentolamine, can be injected directly into the side or base of the penis. These can help achieve or maintain an erection for up to 40 minutes.
- Urethral suppository: Very small alprostadil suppositories can be placed in the penile urethra using a special applicator. This stimulates an erection within 10 minutes that can last for up to 60 minutes.
- Testosterone replacement: A doctor may suggest this treatment for men whose erectile dysfunction is linked to low levels of testosterone. The testosterone hormone can be delivered by a variety of methods, including injection, patch, or oral medication.
Other medical treatments
There may be some men for whom medication is unsuitable, either because of other medical conditions or another reason. In these situations, other medical treatments may be suggested.
Vacuum erection devices are hollow tubes also known as penis pumps. They are attached to a hand- or battery-operated pump and work by drawing blood into the penis. They help a man to achieve an erection that he can maintain using a tension ring.
Implants are inflatable or bendable rods that are surgically implanted into the erection chambers of the penis. Doctors will usually only recommend this type of treatment as a last resort.
A qualified healthcare professional must deliver these treatments.
Herbs and supplements
Several dietary supplements, herbal preparations, and food products are sold as remedies for erectile dysfunction.
Some alternative herbal treatments, which have shown positive results in small studies, are also available. Some herbs that are generally considered to be safe and are available to purchase online include:
However, be careful when purchasing or consuming any alternative products, including those that claim to be herbal versions of Viagra.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued several statements warning consumers about the safety of such goods. They say these products may contain hidden synthetic chemicals or other ingredients that could be harmful. There has not been enough research to support the usage of these supplements fully.
According to the FDA, lab tests show that nearly 300 of the supplements or foods marketed to enhance sexual function contain undisclosed drug ingredients. Any person using a supplement must let their doctor know.
Herbs are not monitored by the FDA for quality or purity. Choose your brand/products after doing research on the company.
Certain lifestyle choices can contribute to erectile dysfunction in some men. Research indicates the condition may be successfully reversed in some situations by focusing on lifestyle factors.
The following changes may be helpful for those with erectile dysfunction:
Eating a balanced diet: Some research suggests that eating flavonoid-rich foods, such as blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, and citrus fruits, can reduce erectile dysfunction in both young and middle-aged men.
Maintaining a healthy body weight: Being overweight or obese can cause or worsen erectile dysfunction.
Quitting smoking: Research indicates a strong link between the intensity of cigarette smoking and the degree of erectile dysfunction. Stopping smoking can improve erectile function in many smokers.
Avoiding too much alcohol and illicit drug use: Drinking too much, or taking illegal drugs, can affect sexual function in men. Smoking marijuana can cause erectile dysfunction.
Viagra was developed in the United Kingdom. In 1998, the American pharmaceutical company, Pfizer Inc., put the drug on the market.
The generic name for Viagra is sildenafil, and Viagra is a brand name. The drug also goes by the name of Revatio. Viagra works by slowing down the action of PDE5, an enzyme that works in the penis tissues.
The PDE5 enzyme breaks down a substance that is responsible for blood flow in the penis. Inhibiting PDE5 increases blood flow to the penis. This helps men to achieve and maintain an erection.
However, sildenafil can only assist in maintaining an erection during physical stimulation.
Erectile dysfunction can result from factors that are medical, psychological, emotional, or a combination of these.
Medical conditions that can cause erectile dysfunction include:
- high blood pressure
- heart disease
- atherosclerosis, when plaque builds up in the arteries
- kidney disease
- multiple sclerosis
- Peyronie's disease, where scar tissue forms in the penis
- injury to the penis, prostate, bladder, pelvis, or spinal cord from surgery or other sources
Psychological issues that might contribute to erectile dysfunction include anxiety, depression, guilt, stress, and low self-esteem.
Some lifestyle choices can also lead to erectile dysfunction, including:
- alcohol or drug use
- excess weight
- lack of exercise
When to see a doctor
As erectile dysfunction is a medical problem, people who have cases that persist for several weeks or more should visit a doctor.
This is particularly important for those who suspect that their erectile dysfunction might relate to an underlying cause, such as heart disease or diabetes.
Some prescription medications are linked to erectile dysfunction. Those taking certain prescribed drugs may wish to discuss possible side effects and alternatives with their doctor.