Oral Medications (PDE5 Inhibitors)
PDE5 inhibitors are generally the first choice of treatment for erectile dysfunction. There are three brands that are approved for the treatment of erectile dysfunction:
- Sildenafil (Viagra)
- Vardenafil (Levitra)
- Tadalafil (Cialis)
All three are known as phosphodiesterase-5 (PDE5) inhibitors. By blocking the PDE-5 enzyme, these drugs help the smooth muscles of the penis to relax and increase blood flow. PDE5 inhibitor drugs come in pill form and are taken by mouth.
These drugs all work equally well. A doctor usually selects one of the brands based on the patient’s individual preference, ease of use, and cost of medication.
Candidates for PDE5 Inhibitors
PDE5 inhibitors are a good choice for men of any age who are in good health and who do not have conditions that preclude taking them.
However, PDE5 inhibitors are not suitable for everyone. Men who take nitrate drugs for angina, or certain types of alpha-blockers for high blood pressure and benign prostatic hyperplasia, should not take PDE5 inhibitors. The PDE5 inhibitors are less effective in men with diabetes and in men who have been treated for prostate cancer.
Review Date: 07/20/2010
Reviewed By: Harvey Simon, MD, Editor-in-Chief, Associate Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School; Physician, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.