PDE5 Inhibitors: Common ED medications and how they work

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erectile dysfunction medication

What is erectile dysfunction?

Sex influences us more than we think. It is very normal for us to crave for intimacy and sex. An intimate relationship usually cannot be completed without sexual intercourse. For men, satisfaction during sex is dictated by the ability to stay aroused and erect. This, however, can be a problem for some men who experience erectile dysfunction. Erectile dysfunction medications can help you achieve & keep a strong erection.

Erectile dysfunction (ED) is a common sexual arousal disorder of men. This disorder is defined as the inability of a man to get an erection and maintain it during sexual stimulation and intercourse. ED is usually reported in men aged 40 years old and above. It is important to note that the age given is not absolute, and ED is not due to getting old. It just means that an older man is more likely to suffer from this disorder. Previously, erectile dysfunction is referred to as impotence, but this term is used less often nowadays.

There are different causes of erectile dysfunction. They are generally classified due to psychogenic causes, organic causes, or a combination of both. A man with this disorder will say that he has difficulty getting an erection, maintaining it during sexual activities, and even claim to have reduced interest in sex.

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How do I treat erectile dysfunction?

For better quality in one’s sexual life, most men would opt to seek medical treatment for erectile dysfunction. But before this, it is important to identify the underlying cause of the disorder since this will dictate the course of treatment.

Before, treatment for ED was limited to vacuum-constriction devices, prosthetic implants, intracavernosal injections, and intraurethral suppositories. For a psychologically induced ED, it is highly recommended to have psychological consults and therapy.

Moreover, recently, there was a development on the first-line drug therapy for ED: the type-5 phosphodiesterase (PDE5) inhibitors

PDE5 inhibitors and how they work

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Phosphodiesterase type-5 (PDE5) inhibitors are oral erectilee dysfunction medications which can address erectile dysfunction. Currently, due to its clinical data, it is regarded as the standard in terms of pharmacologic treatment for ED. Because of this, this is now used as the first treatment option for managing ED which is caused by physiologic factors. This means that PDE5 inhibitors are indicated for men with ED due to poor blood flow to the penis.

Now, how do these drugs work? We must first understand how a normal man gets an erection. When he is sexually excited, the muscles in his penis begin to relax. Because of this, increased amount of blood can go to the vessel of the penis. This accumulation of blood in the chambers of the penis is the reason for the rigidity of an erection. After some time, the muscles of the penis will contract causing the accumulated blood to flow out of the penis. The erection ends here.

Prior to the events mentioned, one of the body’s reactions to sexual stimulation is the release of nitric oxide. This molecule consequently increases another molecule: cyclic GMP. This cascade induces relaxation of the muscles of the penis, hence starting the erection. To counteract this process of relaxation, an enzyme called PDE5 breaks down the cyclic GMP molecules. Therefore, PDE5 stops the erection process.

Here is where the drug class of PDE5 inhibitors come into action. These inhibitors prevent breakdown of the cyclic GMP. It also enhances the action of nitric oxide, hence aiding in the onset of an erection. PDE5 is also known for its vasodilating effect on the penis, meaning it promotes blood flow by relaxing the blood vessels. Consequently, an erection can happen.

The mechanism on how PDE5 inhibitors work is very promising. However, one of the noted limitations based on how they work is that adequate sexual stimulation is needed first before an erection to occur.

Types of PDE5 inhibitors

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We currently have different types of PDE5 inhibitors available for men experiencing erectile dysfunction.  Our erectile dysfunction medications will help you achieve and keep a hard erection.

Sildenafil, marketed under the name Viagra, is the very first extensively researched PDE5 inhibitor. This takes effect within an hour and can last for as long as 12 hours. Generic brands of this drug are now available in the market for a cheaper price.

Tadalafil (Cialis) is a newer drug compared to Viagra. This drug can take effect within 20 minutes and it has the longest duration of action, as this drug can be in effect for as long as 36 hours. Other than being able to manage ED, this drug is also approved for use on benign prostate hyperplasia.

Vardenafil (Levitra or Staxyn) has the shortest onset. This takes effect within 10 minutes and lasts for around 7 to 12 hours. Avanafil (Stendra) is the newest PDE5 inhibitor in the market. This takes effect within 30 to 45 minutes.

It is important for you to know that these drugs have reported common side effects, but these are usually harmless. This includes flushing, headaches, nasal congestion, and cold-like symptoms. Communication with your physician is very important, especially if you notice that you have severe manifestations of the side effects.

These drugs mentioned are all taken orally, and they work by reversing erectile dysfunction through enhancing the effect of nitric oxide. Nitric oxide is important, because it relaxes the muscles of the penis which allow an erection to happen once adequate sexual stimulation is achieved.

Erectile dysfunction medications and medical help

As we now know, PDE5 inhibitors are generally well-tolerated and safe as treatment for ED caused by physiologic factors (i.e., poor blood circulation to the penis). These drugs are safe, convenient, and effective for improving erectile dysfunction which is why they are preferred by health care practitioners and patients. Note that if the underlying cause is something psychological, such as stress or anxiety, psychiatric consultation is better since these PDE5 inhibitors are not going to work.

If erectile dysfunction is to be treated, it is important for you to seek medical consult, because a doctor will be able to diagnose your case and provide you with the available treatment options.

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