There is a high probability that you have seen one of the many erectile dysfunction ads on television or the internet at least once. Published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, a study has determined that up to 7% of adult males aged between 18 and 29 years as well as 9% of adult men aged between 30 and 39 years cannot achieve an erection hard enough for sex. This staggering statistic underlines the importance of sexual health.

This brings us to the question, is erectile dysfunction medication the first option for such problems and if so, what are your options?

For men suffering from erectile dysfunction, erectile dysfunction medication could be the first line of treatment, primarily because it works quickly and usually has few side effects. Erectile dysfunction medications, which include Viagra, Levitra, Cialis, and Stendra, are categorized under a class of medications known as PDE5 inhibitors. They function by relaxing blood vessels, which increases the amount of blood flowing to the penis, causing an erection. The drugs also lessens the recovery period between sessions of sex, which can be particularly useful for men experiencing premature ejaculation.


Known as the little blue pill, Viagra (sildenafil) received the FDA’s approval in 1998 and was the first such medication to receive a nod from the agency. Viagra, like most erectile dysfunction medications, is a phosphodiesterase inhibitor, and it works by boosting the activity of nitric oxide. Nitric oxide relaxes the smooth muscles in the penis, allowing more blood to flow to the area when stimulation or sexual arousal occurs.

The typical dose of Viagra is 50 milligrams, although the dose can vary from one person to the other. Viagra works within an hour, and its effects can last up to four hours. Note that this doesn’t mean that the user has an erection that lasts for four hours, but an erection may occur up to four hours after taking Viagra.

Potential Viagra Side Effects

  • Flushed skin
  • Diarrhea
  • Headache
  • Digestive problems


Cialis (tadalafil) works through the same mechanism as Viagra. However, unlike Viagra, Cialis has a 36 hour window to aid in erectile dysfunction issues. Cialis works relatively fast when compared with other erectile dysfunction medications, typically within 30 minutes. Cialis was initially manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline as a heart medication until another pharmaceutical company, Pfizer, made a discovery that it could help improve sexual health in men suffering from erectile dysfunction. The FDA approved Cialis as an ED medication in 2003. Cialis is given in pill dosage of 10 mg, although the doctor may adjust this as needed.

Cialis Side Effects

  • Burping
  • Stuffy or a runny nose
  • Acid reflux
  • Flushing
  • Stomach pain or discomfort
  • Indigestion
  • Back pain
  • Muscle aches


Levitra (vardenafil hydrochloride) starts to work within an hour of taking it, and it provides an erection that lasts for up to four hours. Levitra works like Viagra and is given in similar doses (10 mg, 30 minutes before sex), although the dosage may be different from one person to the other. Levitra is available in two forms: a tablet and a disintegrating tablet that is taken without water. Levitra got FDA approval in 2003 and is manufactured by Bayer Healthcare Pharmaceuticals and distributed by GlaxoSmithKline.

In 2007, the FDA warned that using Levitra could cause a hearing problem, which is the case with other erectile dysfunction medication including Viagra. Therefore, the FDA instructed the manufacturers of Levitra change the warnings on the drug’s safety information to include the potential link.

More Levitra Side Effects

  • Stuffy nose
  • Sneezing
  • Warm feeling or redness in the face, neck, arms, and upper chest

How to Take Viagra, Cialis and Levitra

Viagra, Cialis, and Levitra are available through a doctor’s prescription and have varying strengths, which means that an individual who wants to improve their sexual health can start by taking the lowest dose and adjust it accordingly.

Cialis can be taken on a daily basis with or without food, 30 to 60 minutes before sexual contact. Levitra is taken once every 24 hours on an empty stomach. It remains active in the body for 8 hours, and just like Cialis, Levitra is taken about 30 minutes before having sex. Viagra works best if taken on an empty stomach. Avoid eating foods with high fat content as it may affect the effectiveness of Viagra.

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