What are the alternatives to Viagra?

What other treatment options are there for erectile dysfunction?

Contents
Alternatives to Viagra

Key takeaways

  • There are a lot of alternative medications to Viagra

  • Some people find that making lifestyle changes is enough to make their erectile dysfunction go away

  • Sex therapy also helps a lot of people with erectile dysfunction

There are many medications on the market that can help men overcome erectile dysfunction (ED). Known medically as PDE-5 inhibitors, the best known is Viagra, but there are alternatives to this well-known brand of ED medication.

What alternative medications to Viagra are there?

There’s a range of medications for erectile dysfunction that you can get in Ireland. You’ll need a prescription to get all of these medicines.

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Cialis

Cialis (the trade name for tadalafil, the active ingredient) works in the same way as Viagra, increasing blood flow to the penis to help men with erectile problems achieve and maintain an erection. In common with Viagra, Cialis is taken as and when a man needs to achieve an erection for sex. A low dose can also be taken daily to help with ED.

Cialis won’t help you to get an erection if you are not also sexually stimulated. This is because it works by relaxing the blood vessels which supply the penis with blood, meaning that more blood can flow into the penis when you’re already aroused.

Cialis lasts for around 36 hours, whereas Viagra lasts for four to five hours. Cialis also works faster than Viagra, taking effect in around half an hour.

Although trials have shown Cialis to be a safe and effective drug, it is not right for everyone. It is not recommended for use in men who also take prescription or recreational drugs containing nitrates as it can slightly lower blood pressure. Taking Cialis and a nitrate-containing drug at the same time can cause a dangerous drop in blood pressure.

Levitra

In common with Viagra and Cialis, Levitra (vardenafil) is a PDE-5 inhibitor that takes effect half an hour to an hour after you’ve taken it. Levitra works for four to six hours, around the same time as you’d expect from Viagra. Your erection won’t last all this time, but you will be able to get an erection during this time frame if you are sexually aroused.

Levitra works by relaxing the smooth muscles in the walls of blood vessels in the penis, which increases blood flow to the area and causes an erection.

Levitra can be taken when you need it, around an hour before you have sex. As with Cialis, you will only achieve an erection when you’ve taken Levitra if you are also sexually stimulated. No more than one tablet of Levitra should be taken in a 24- hour period.

Levitra is not recommended for use by everyone. It can interact with other drugs, including other drugs for erectile dysfunction, certain antibiotics, blood pressure and heart medications, and drugs used to treat HIV and AIDS. This is not a full list of drugs that can interact with Levitra, so always read the patient information leaflet that comes with your medication to take Levitra safely.

Natural alternatives to viagra

There are several natural alternatives to Viagra. They should be approached with caution because ‘natural’ alternatives to prescription medications may not have undergone sufficient clinical trials or any trials at all, meaning that their potential side effects, both short and long term, may not be properly known.

Natural alternatives to Viagra include:

Horny Goat Weed

The most popular ‘herbal viagra’ has been used for centuries in China to enhance sexual performance. It is believed to have the same effect as PDE-5 inhibitors. A 2008 Italian study researched herbal extracts, and horny goat weed was the most potent inhibitor of the enzyme, resulting in an erection.

Korean Red Ginseng

The root of Asian ginseng has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for several reasons, including the treatment of erectile dysfunction, for thousands of years. In 2002, a study of 45 men concluded that Korean red ginseng was an ‘effective alternative for treating male erectile dysfunction’. However, a 2013 study found that Korean ginseng berry did not improve sexual dysfunction any more than placebo across most of the areas tested, including erectile function.

Maca

Also known as ‘Peruvian Viagra’, maca contains phytochemicals (compounds extracted from plants), which are said to ‘support hormonal balance and normal sexual function’.

Acupunture

Traditional Chinese acupuncture is believed to restore the balance and flow in the body's energy, and if the energy flow (qi) is disrupted or blocked, the disease can occur. A 2003 study in 22 men on whether acupuncture improved erectile dysfunction found that ‘acupuncture can be an effective treatment option in more than two-thirds of patients with psychogenic erectile dysfunction’. A 1999 study also concluded that ‘acupuncture... did improve the quality of an erection and restored the sexual activity with an overall effect of 39%. A controlled and blinded study, including more patients, will be needed before any definitive conclusion can be reached.’

Homeopathy

Homoeopathic remedies are solutions that are often diluted to the point where there may be no molecules of the original substance left. The British Homeopathic Association says that; ‘ultra-molecular homoeopathic dilutions may possess unique physical properties and can exert physiological effects’. The herb Agnus Castus (Chaste Tree) is thought to help relieve erectile dysfunction, but there appears to be no clinical evidence to support this.

Other treatments – no need to take a pill

These are treatments that you put directly onto or into the penis. They’re usually available as a cream or an injection. These treatments have fewer side effects than PDE-5 inhibitors but can be more difficult to use. They also do not usually last as long.

The active ingredient in topical treatments is alprostadil. It makes the blood vessels get wider, which helps to get an erection. Alprostadil is available in the form of injections under the brand name Caverject.

Are there alternatives to Viagra that do not involve taking medication?

Some people can avoid erectile dysfunction by trying other ways of treating the condition.

Lifestyle changes

There are certain things about your lifestyle that affect how well your blood is flowing around your body. Having good blood flow can help you to get or keep an erection. These things can help to avoid erectile dysfunction:

  • Keeping to a healthy weight for your size
  • Eating a balanced diet, and avoiding processed, high-fat food
  • Exercising regularly
  • Not smoking
  • Limiting how much alcohol you drink
  • Reducing stress
  • Not taking illegal drugs

Pelvic floor exercises

Doing pelvic floor exercises will help you build up the muscles around the penis. This will make the blood flow to these muscles more easily. It can take a few months of doing regular pelvic floor exercises to see any changes.

Sex therapy

Some men may experience erectile dysfunction because of the way they’re feeling. If you have low mood or mental health problems, this can affect your ability to get or keep an erection.

Erectile dysfunction can also be the cause of mental health concerns, creating a cycle that’s hard to break. Talking to someone about how you feel can be helpful. That could be your partner, a friend, a member of your family, or someone who works in healthcare, like a doctor.

You can also talk to a counsellor who specialises in sex therapy. You can do this on your own, or together with a partner, or both. Your doctor may refer you for therapy, or you can get in touch with a therapist yourself. It’s a good idea to choose a therapist who’s registered with the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy.

Vacuum pumps

A vacuum pump uses air pressure to get blood into the penis. Once enough blood is in the penis, a ring is placed at the base to stop the blood from flowing back. The ring can be kept on for no longer than 30 minutes. If it’s left on for longer, it might damage the penis.

Penile implants

Penile implants are devices placed inside the penis. There are two different types: one which inflates and one which makes the penis firm at all times. You need to have an operation for both types, so they’re generally only offered to men who’ve already tried other ways to avoid erectile dysfunction.

Natural or herbal remedies

Natural and herbal remedies for erectile dysfunction are not safe and are unlikely to treat the condition properly. They are not regulated like medical treatments and usually contain little or no active ingredients. The most common remedies that people believe can help erectile dysfunction are:

  • DHEA: a hormone that the body can turn into testosterone
  • zinc: a vitamin that is said to help create male hormones
  • horny goat weed: an ancient Chinese remedy that is thought to work in a very similar way to Viagra
  • panax ginseng/red ginseng: a plant extract that is believed to help the body make testosterone
  • L-arginine: a substance naturally made by the body that relaxes the blood vessels and allows more blood to flow to the penis

Is medication right for me?

Erectile dysfunction is a common condition. It affects around 50% of men between the ages of 40 and 70. Many of these men take medication for their erectile dysfunction. If a doctor has told you that you have erectile dysfunction and feels that PDE-5 inhibitors would be suitable, this type of medication may be right for you.

Occasional problems in getting or keeping erections are common, so it’s worth talking to a doctor to check how serious the condition is. You may find that things get better by making simple changes to your lifestyle (as described above).

Before taking Viagra or other PDE-5 inhibitors, you should make sure that you’re not taking medications that might be causing your erectile dysfunction like:

  • diuretics
  • antihypertensives
  • fibrates
  • antipsychotics
  • antidepressants
  • corticosteroids
  • h2-antagonists
  • anticonvulsants
  • antihistamines
  • anti-androgens
  • cytotoxics
  • nitrates

Some of these medications are also used to treat conditions that can cause erectile dysfunction. It’s important to talk about this with your doctor.

You should not take PDE-5 inhibitors if you:

  • do not have erectile dysfunction
  • are allergic to anything in the medication
  • have a serious heart or liver condition
  • have low blood pressure
  • recently had a stroke or heart attack
  • are using another treatment for erectile dysfunction

PDE-5 inhibitors may not be suitable if you:

  • are taking other medications
  • have noticed other problems with your penis
  • have a heart condition
  • have a stomach ulcer or bleeding problems
  • have, or have had eyesight problems

What if I’ve tried Viagra and it does not work?

Viagra and its alternatives might not work the first time you take them. For some people, it can take up to 8 times before the medication starts to work.

It’s a good idea to try different PDE-5 inhibitors if the first one you try does not work. A doctor can help you to find the option that best suits your needs.

Even if you find a medication that works, it’s important to remember that maintaining a healthy lifestyle will help the medication keep working.

I want to try Viagra but I do not want to see a doctor

It’s possible to get Viagra Connect after a consultation with a pharmacist (if they believe the treatment is right for you). For all other PDE-5 inhibitors, you’ll need a prescription from a doctor.

You can order a prescription for dysfunction treatment from Zava without speaking to a doctor by following these simple steps:

  • Fill out a short online assessment
  • Choose a treatment and place your order
  • Your order will be reviewed by a doctor and approved if it’s right for you
  • You choose if you want to: receive your order at your preferred address, or collect your order from a local pharmacy

I do not know if Viagra is safe for me

Whether you go to a doctor, a pharmacist, or order your erectile dysfunction medication online, a professional will always assess whether the medication will be right for you. If you purchase Viagra without an assessment, it may not be safe for you to take it.

What treatments for erectile dysfunction may be available in the future?

Recent research in erectile dysfunction treatment has focused on the following options:

  • Low-energy electrical shocks to increase blood flow to the penis
  • DNA injections
  • Stem-cell therapy
  • Drugs that help with sexual arousal
  • Drugs that repair nerve damage
  • Drugs that strengthen the muscles used for in an erection
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Last reviewed: 12 Jun 2019


Erectile Dysfunction Treatments

Zava offers a convenient and discreet service to help men improve their erectile dysfunction. There are a number of treatments you can consider. Continue to our erectile dysfunction service page to learn about the treatment options available.




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