Get the most out of your erectile dysfunction medication
Dr. Aysha Butt is the Medical Director of FROM MARS, and is a GP Partner at Woodcote NHS Medical Practice.
Most men want to overcome their erectile dysfunction without going to the end of the world and back, and most can. Erectile dysfunction tablets like sildenafil (Viagra) are highly effective treatments, but you can also take additional, healthy steps to maximise the benefits of your medication. That doesn’t mean taking a higher dose than what was prescribed to you, but there are ways to improve how well your body absorbs the chemicals found in ED tablets that relax the blood vessels to help blood flow more freely to your penis.
We’ll explain more in this blog post, which is full of advice on the correct sildenafil dosage, and how to make ED meds more effective.
When should I take ED medication?
The most common questions about erectile dysfunction tablets relate to timings. ‘When to take Viagra for best results’ is a popular search term. The answer? Every tablet is different. You can take sildenafil (the active ingredient in Viagra) 30 minutes to an hour before sex. That’s the same for vardenafil (Levitra). The only difference is tadalafil (Cialis) which, due to it lasting longer (36 hours in some cases), should be taken an hour to two hours prior. But time isn’t the only factor you should consider. Diet also plays a major role in ED.
Fatty meals and ED medication
We tend to group fatty foods and high blood pressure together, but you might not have thought about the link between fat and erectile dysfunction. In more general terms, poor lifestyle choices can bring about problems in the bedroom. For instance, if you have a diet that’s high in fat, you’re at higher risk of obesity and high blood pressure, which can contribute to ED. More specifically, eating a fatty meal before taking the medication can slow down your digestion. Because of this, you should opt for lighter choices on the days you plan to have sex. If you still want to indulge, do so at breakfast or lunch. That way, you’ll be more likely to get an erection later.
ED medication and alcohol
It’s not uncommon to feel amorous after a few glasses of wine, but mixing alcohol with your ED medication can make you ill. Drinking can relax the muscles around your blood vessels, which is also how ED tablets work. The scientific word used to describe this relaxation response is vasodilation. When the muscles around your blood vessels relax, blood passes through your body more freely. Too much vasodilation and you may feel lightheaded or dizzy. That’s not to say you can’t drink at all. It’s possible to drink on ED medication but don’t go overboard. Having a moderate amount is safe in some — but not all — cases. Check beforehand!
Common questions about ED treatments
Still unsure how to take Viagra?
Like all ED tablets bought FROM MARS, our doctors will determine if it is a medically appropriate treatment for you and prescribe your dosage (this is imperative for prescription-only drugs). The standard dose can vary between medications, for example 50 mg is standard for Viagra whereas 10 mg is the recommended starting dose for Cialis. In addition, some tablets can be swallowed while others dissolve on the tongue, so always read the instructions in the leaflet provided.
How is erectile dysfunction diagnosed?
If you’ve tried to have sex after a heavy night of drinking, your erectile dysfunction may be a red herring. However, if you are repeatedly experiencing erectile dysfunction — be that with a partner or by yourself — the first thing you should do is speak to your doctor. This is the only way to rule out any serious health issues. There’s no need to feel embarrassed or ashamed, ED is a common complaint that can be detected easily through a blood or urine test, an ultrasound, or a pain-free physical exam. It’s better to check than risk your health.
What other ED treatments are available?
Tadalafil and vardenafil are prescription-only treatments for ED. This is partly because these medicines are stronger, and dosages can differ greatly. Speak to us if your body is not responding to the sildenafil found in Viagra, as our doctors may determine that a different treatment may be more appropriate for you.
We’ve mentioned some of the science behind erectile dysfunction tablets. Remember, these PDE5 inhibitors affect the flow of blood and can cause a dangerous drop in blood pressure if taken with beta-blockers or nitrates. For this reason, you should also avoid taking erectile dysfunction medicines with blood thinners like Coumadin (warfarin) and Lovenox (enoxaparin). Doing so can cause dizziness, headaches and even fainting. If you are taking medication for a pre-existing issue, your doctor may recommend new treatments or changes to your lifestyle.
Consider healthy lifestyle changes
We often overlook the toll our lifestyles can have on our health, but this can be the difference between managing ED and not. Recreational drugs, alcohol, and smoking can cause hormonal imbalances and impact blood flow, as can eating greasy foods. Take steps to improve your health. Exercising can increase endorphins and other feel-good chemicals, which can be good for your physical and mental health — both of which are linked to erectile dysfunction. If you are suffering from depression or anxiety, know that you are not alone and that there are people out there who can help you through with advice, support, counselling and mindfulness opportunities.
Look after yourself and your erection will do the same — with or without medication. Should you want more advice, you’ll find it across the FROM MARS blog. If it’s ED you’re concerned about, we’ll help you through.