Erectile dysfunction or ED is a common problem that can affect men of all ages. Nearly 4.3 million men experience symptoms in the UK alone. It affects up to half of all men aged over 40, and as much as 7 in 10 men over the age of 70.
Thankfully most men can effectively treat the condition with a simple treatment. In the UK there are several licensed treatment options available with different specific details making them more suitable for some men. They are very cost effective and backed by plenty of medical evidence to ensure they are safe.
What is Erectile Dysfunction (ED) and who is affected?
Erectile dysfunction (ED) is commonly known as "impotence". It is when a man is unable to have and maintain an erection. Erectile dysfunction tends to mainly affect men between the ages of 40 and 70 but can affect younger men too. It can often cause psycological and relationship problems. It affects 1 in 10 men in the world at some point.
What causes ED?
Occasional ED is quite common and can be caused by factors such as short term stress. Men who are commonly affected and suffer with frequent erectile dysfunction may need to be seen by a GP as this can be a sign of an underlying physical or psychological condition.
Physical causes include:-
High blood pressure, High cholesterol, Diabetes Mellitus, Hormonal problems, Surgery - particularly spinal, Injury - particularly spinal, Use of certain medicines e.g. anabolic steroids (Click here for more info)
Psychological causes include: -
Anxiety, Depression, Relationship problems.
What treatment options are there?
ED can be treated using oral medicines known as phosphodiesterase type 5 (PDE5) inhibitors. These "Erection Pills", as they're sometimes referred to, work by relaxing the blood vessels that feed the penis. This causes increased blood flow into the penis and Increased blood = Increased Hardness. They also block other substances found in the penis that return the blood vessels back to their normal state. This block is temporary but long enough to help maintain a harder erection for longer.
Many studies have been carried out to show the effectiveness of these medicines, in general more than 66% of men report having improved erections after taking one of these tablets.
There are a few different tablets to choose from. Picking the right one could come down to a few questions:
How often are you sexually active?
Have you have tried any of the medications before? Was it effective or will you need to try another one? Did it cause unpleasant side effects?
- Can you take tablets? (Levitra is also available as an Orodispersible tablet, melts in the mouth, Vitaros is a topical cream alternative treatment)
What are the most cost effective ED tablets available?
Sildenafil and Tadalafil tablets are by far the most cost effective treatments available. Sildenafil is the active ingredient found in Viagra, Tadalafil in Cialis. As a comparison, the clinically equivalent, generic versions of the tablets are less than half the price of their equivalent brands. They are just as effective and work exactly the same as the branded medicines.
Branded ED pills that have also got generic versions include:
- Viagra = Sildenafil
- Cialis = Tadalafil
- Levitra = Vardenafil
What if I cannot take tablets?
Vitaros (Alprostadil) Cream
Some men will not be able to take the tablets available. They may find it difficult to swallow the tablets or experience side effects with the treatment that are not well tolerated.
For these patients there is another drug available called alprostadil. It is a synthetic prostaglandin (PGE-1) that works by carrying out the same effect as the oral PDE-5 inhibitors, it widens the arteries that provide the penis with blood and narrow the veins that take blood away from the penis. However it does this locally (at the penis only) and thus does not have the same side effects as the oral tablets/pills.
Alprostadil usually has to be injected, however there is one formulation that can be applied as a cream to the tip of the penis that works the same. It's called Vitaros Cream and is available at SimplyMeds Online.
Vitaros is an effective, non-invasive way of helping with ED symptoms without having to take tablets. The other advantage is that this treatment is usually more suitable those patients who cannot use PDE-5 inhibitors due to interactions with other medication (such as organic nitrates for angina).
Vitaros is stored in the fridge however it can be kept out for up to 3 days at a time before using. Once applied it gets to work with 5-30 minutes and its effects can last up to 2 hours in some patients making it a suitable alternative to the oral treatments.