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What If I Can’t Take Viagra for My Erectile Dysfunction (ED)?

Overview: Some men cannot take phosphodiesterase type 5 (PDE5) inhibitors, like Viagra, for erectile dysfunction (ED). This is often due to underlying health conditions or prescription medication use. Fortunately, there are other ways to treat ED that don’t involve PDE5 inhibitors. This article explores other treatment options for men who cannot take popular ED drugs.

Can’t take Viagra for ED? Read on to learn more about your ED treatment options.

Who Should Avoid Taking Viagra?

Viagra is the most popular erectile dysfunction (ED) drug on the market. But some men cannot take Viagra or similar ED drugs. This is because taking phosphodiesterase type 5 (PDE5) inhibitors, like Viagra, can be risky for men living with certain medical conditions or who are already taking other prescription medications.

Nitrates. Men with heart disease or who take nitrates are at high risk for adverse reactions when taking PDE5 inhibitors. If you have heart disease, you traditionally should not take PDE5 inhibitors until your condition is stable. You should never take PDE5 inhibitors without a prescription and medical consultation.

Taking PDE5 inhibitors with nitrates can cause a severe drop in blood pressure, resulting in heart attack or death. You should not take PDE5 inhibitors while on nitrate medications. Common nitrate medications that interact with PDE5 inhibitors include:

  • Amyl nitrate (“poppers”)
  • isosorbide dinitrate (Dilatrate-SR, Isordil) or isosorbide mononitrate (Imdur, Monoket)
  • Nitroglycerin (Nitrostat)

Men with certain chronic conditions should take additional precautions when it comes to ED medications. You should speak with your medical provider about your risk of adverse reaction to PDE5 inhibitors if you have a history of heart disease or stroke.

For more information about nitrates, see our list of commonly prescribed nitrate medications.

Other drugs. Several other drugs, including alpha-blockers; certain antibiotics, antifungals, and antiviral medications; and occasionally Xanax and (rarely) certain antidepressants, have the potential to interact with Viagra.

What About Alcohol and Other Substances?

As stated above, men should never mix Viagra with amyl nitrate “poppers.” And while there is no evidence that drugs like caffeine, alcohol, and cannabis are dangerous when taken with Viagra and other PDE5 inhibitors, these substances can all cause worsening erectile dysfunction and a less robust response to ED meds.

For more information about drugs that should not be taken with Viagra, visit WebMD.

What Can I Do for ED If I Can’t Take Viagra?Stethoscope and heart.

If you’ve found you cannot take PDE5 inhibitors, don’t give up hope just yet. You can improve your erectile function with lifestyle changes, supplements, and other medical interventions. Of course, any significant change in lifestyle and any medication or supplement use should be discussed with your doctor.

PDE5 inhibitors are the only oral medications approved to treat ED in the United States. However, oral medication is not the only treatment option on the market. Men who cannot take oral medications for ED may look into other medical interventions, such as:

  • Intraurethral therapy. Alprostadil, a drug used in penile injections, can also be used as a suppository. You use a special applicator to insert a small suppository into their urethra. This induces an erection within 10 minutes that can last up to 60 minutes.
  • Penile injections. A penile injection is the direct injection of a drug into either side of the penis. Your doctor will typically perform the first injection, then you will self-administer future injections 15 to 30 minutes before sex.
  • Sex therapy. Sex therapy can help to treat the underlying psychological causes of ED or the psychological effects of long-term ED. You can use therapy individually or with your partner to improve both your psychological and sexual health.
  • Surgery. Surgical penile implants work by stiffening the penis, allowing sex to occur uninterrupted. There are two types of penile implants, inflatable and semirigid.
  • Testosterone therapy.
    Research shows that testosterone therapy can be effective for treating moderate ED in men who have low T. Testosterone therapy involves the use of injections, pills, or topical gels to increase testosterone production.
  • Vacuum pumps. A vacuum pump is also referred to as a “penis pump.” This hollow tube is either hand-powered or battery-powered. The pump works by creating a seal around the penis and pulling enough blood into the penis to create an erection. Common side effects include bruising on the penis.

Treatment method outcomes vary based on the severity and root cause of ED. Men living with chronic conditions or who take nitrates may have additional concerns when it comes to engaging in sexual activity. You may wish to form a care team that consists of your primary care provider, a urologist, and a sex therapist to help you create the best treatment plan for your situation.

Can I Overcome ED “Naturally?”

Plants and oils.If you take nitrates, you may be tempted to look into less invasive treatment options, such as supplement use, cannabidiol (CBD) use, or healthy lifestyle changes. You should be wary of internet scams that boast “natural” treatments for ED. However, you can improve your erectile function by making lifestyle changes under the care of your medical provider.

  • Supplement use. Supplements touted as “herbal Viagra” should be avoided at all costs. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has identified these supplemental blends as dangerous and fraudulent scams, as many of these blends often contain undisclosed prescription medications. However, some supplements have been identified as helpful for improving sexual function when taken under the direction of a medical provider.
  • Cannabidiol. The official jury is still out on CBD use for ED. However, anecdotal evidence suggests that CBD oils and lubricants can improve sexual satisfaction and reduce anxiety surrounding sexual performance. This treatment option may be better for men living with psychologically induced ED.
  • Lifestyle changes. Research tells us time and time again that exercise and a healthy diet are great for both your heart and erectile function. Lifestyle changes can help you to manage existing chronic conditions and reduce ED by improving blood flow throughout your body and to your penis. They can also serve as a buffer to chronic stress, which also exacerbates ED.

Where Can I Learn More About My Treatment Options?

The first step to improving your sex life is speaking to a medical provider. A provider can help you to identify the root cause of any sexual function challenges you would like to address. You should never attempt ED treatment without the direction of a medical provider.

We’ve made it easy for you to learn more about ED treatment through our blog and medication guide at eDrugstore.com. If you have questions about sexual dysfunction, see our lifestyle medication guide and take advantage of our free online consultation to order erectile dysfunction medications at the click of a button.

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