What Are the Alternatives to Viagra?

What else can I use to help with erectile dysfunction?

Last reviewed: 12 Jun 2019

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

Contents of this article

Viagra is often the first treatment that people think of if they’re experiencing erectile dysfunction. It’s the most well-known brand of medication in a group called PDE-5 inhibitors. PDE-5 inhibitors work by allowing more blood to flow to the penis.

Even though Viagra is the most popular method of treating erectile dysfunction, there are many other options to consider. These include different PDE-5 inhibitor drugs, devices that can help you get and keep an erection, and lifestyle changes.

What alternative medications to Viagra are there?

There’s a range of different types of medication for erectile dysfunction that you can get in the UK. You’ll need a prescription to get all of these medicines except Viagra Connect. All of them are also available from Zava, after completing a short, online assessment.

Viagra Connect – no need for a prescription

Viagra Connect is a form of Viagra that you can get without a prescription. It’s available in most pharmacies, where you’ll need to talk to a pharmacist who’ll tell you if the medication could be right for you.

Sildenafil – a cheaper version of Viagra

Sildenafil contains the same active ingredient as Viagra, but is made by other companies. It’s cheaper than Viagra, but acts in the same way. It starts working 1 hour after you take it and keeps working for around 4 hours.

Cialis – longer-lasting than Viagra

Cialis contains an active ingredient called tadalafil and usually costs more than Viagra. It lasts much longer than Viagra – up to 36 hours.

Cialis Daily – treatment that you take every day

Cialis Daily is made up of a lower dose of tadalafil and is taken once a day. This means that you do not need to take it just before having sex.

Tadalafil – a cheaper version of Cialis

Tadalafil contains the same active ingredient as Cialis. Just like Cialis it has a long-lasting effect – up to 36 hours – but is cheaper.

Levitra – less likely to affect your eyesight

Levitra is very similar to Viagra, but it contains the active ingredient vardenafil. An uncommon side effect of Viagra is that it can harm your eyesight. Levitra is less likely to have this effect. It can also work faster than Viagra.

Spedra – works quicker and lasts longer than Viagra

Spedra is the newest PDE-5 inhibitor on the market in the UK. Its active ingredient is avanafil. It starts working much faster than Viagra, in some men within 15 minutes, and lasts longer. How the drug works depends on the amount that you take. A doctor will prescribe an amount that suits your needs.

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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 are able to 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 have an effect on your ability to get or keep an erection.

Erectile dysfunction can also be the cause of mental-health concerns, which can create 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. For both types you need to have an operation, 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 also used to treat conditions that can themselves be the cause of 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 types of 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 your erectile dysfunction treatment from Zava without speaking to a doctor. We offer a variety of treatments, available 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 post office

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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Dr Kathryn Basford is a qualified GP who works as a GP in London, as well as with Zava. She graduated from the University of Manchester and completed her GP training through Whipps Cross Hospital in London.

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Last reviewed: 12 Jun 2019

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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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