Erectile Dysfunction (ED) has been recorded as far back in time as the Old Testament. References to ED have also been found in Egyptian tombs and Greek cup paintings. ED is officially defined as the persistent inability to achieve or sustain an erection that is sufficient for sex. It effects men of all backgrounds, ages and ethnicities. Since the approval of Viagra ( a PDE5 inhibitor), many have considered the little blue pill a wonder drug. While medications for erectile dysfunction can be extremely effective, they don’t work as intended if not taken properly. Researchers found that as many as 69% of men taking ED drugs were taking them improperly.  This means that many men are not experiencing the full effects of their medication. Proper education and understanding of how to take medication is key to getting the full benefits of a drug.

Here are some of common mistakes men make:

  1. Forgetting that your brain is an important part of the equation
    Drugs like Viagra, alone, do not cause an erection. Men need to be aroused for the medication to work.
    When men become aroused, the brain initiates the production of a chemical that acts to increase blood flow to the penis. Once the signal is sent,  is at this point that Viagra helps, by bringing even more blood to the penis, and keeping it there to maintain an erection.
    So sexual stimulation + ED drugs = Erection. If you take the sexual stimulation out, the equation doesn’t work.
  2. Believing that higher doses of ED drugs are better
    When any medication is prescribed for a patient, doctors generally start with a lower dose, and increase the dose if needed. This is the same with drugs for erectile dysfunction. Starting at a lower dose actually allows more room for adjustment, so you can find the dose that achieves maximal results, while also minimizing medication side effects ( i.e. – vision problems, hypotension, headache, flushing). It’s especially important to be mindful of dose for men with cardiovascular disease, high cholesterol, diabetes, liver or kidney impairment.
  3. Eating or drinking the wrong things
    Thinking of an indulgent dinner date followed by some romance at home? You may want to think again.
    Taking medications like Viagra and Levitra right after a heavy dinner is a bad idea because the drug’s absorption is reduced by high fat meals. To put it in perspective – if you take 100mg of Levitra right after eating, you are really only getting 50mg of it.  Try and allow at least 2 hours after a meal before taking ED medication. If you can’t wait the 2 hours, consider medications like Cialis that aren’t as impacted by food.
    Drinking too much alcohol can also reduce the efficacy of drugs for ED because alcohol is known to lower blood flow to the penis.
    Also, when taking Cialis you’ll want to limit your intake of grapefruit juice. Grapefruit juice (or foods containing grapefruit) can increase the medication’s side effects.
  4. Giving Up
    If the first time you give the medication a try, you see no effects, don’t be discouraged. It’s recommended to try the medication on at least 6-8 occasions to gauge true efficacy. This is to make sure that other factors (like a fatty meal or the others mentioned above ) aren’t getting in the way.
  5. Assuming that because one drug doesn’t work, none will
    There are 3 different drugs classified as PDE5 inhibitors. If one doesn’t work, don’t assume this is the case of all. In a study, 40% of men didn’t bother to try another drug after the first was unsuccessful. People respond differently to each drug. It is reasonable to try all PDE5 inhibitors (Viagra, Cialis, Levitra or their generic alternatives) before moving to other options.
    One alternative to PDE5 inhibitors is Alprostadil. Alprostadil comes as a pellet or an injection administered through the opening of the penis. Although the administration can be slightly uncomfortable, its effects are rather quick, and there is no need for sexual stimulation. Many men for whom PDE5s have failed are very happy with this the results of Alprostadil. Limitations of Alprostadil are that it doesn’t last as long as some of the pills, and the injection can be use a maximum of 3 times a week.
    To learn more about ED medications, and which one is right for you, speak to your doctor.