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    Which erectile dysfunction is right for me?

    On this page
    1. What medications are available?
    2. What is generic Viagra?
    3. What other treatments are available? 
    4. Vacuum pumps
    5. Lifestyle changes

    Reviewed by our clinical team

    Three erectile dysfunction pills in a mans hand

    If you’re considering treatment for erectile dysfunction (ED) then it is important to know the difference between the most popular options so you can select the right one for you.

    Before considering ED medication, it’s important to know that they will not treat the underlying cause of your ED. Therefore we often advise patients to see their doctor for some tests to identify and treat the root cause of the condition.

    What medications are available?

    The most widely prescribed ED medications come from a drug group known as PDE-5 inhibitors. They work by temporarily increasing blood flow to the penis and are very effective at helping men get and maintain an erection. The most well-known drugs in this group are: Viagra, Levitra, Cialis and Sildenafil (the generic of Viagra).

    What is generic Viagra?

    A generic drug is a version of the well-known brand with the same active ingredients - sildenafil is the generic form of Viagra.  Sildenafil and Viagra work in the same way but Sildenafil tends to be more cost effective. 

    Viagra

    Sildenafil

    Cialis

    Levitra

    How long it lasts

    Around 4 hours

    Around 4 hours

    Up to 36 hours

    Around 4-5 hours

    How to take it

    No more than one tablet a day, on an empty stomach. Not to be combined with other ED medicines.

    No more than one tablet a day, on an empty stomach. Not to be combined with other ED medicines.

    No more than one tablet a day, with or without food. Not to be combined with other ED medicines.

    No more than one tablet a day, with or without food. Not to be combined with other ED medicines.

    When to take it

    About 60 minutes before sex

    About 60 minutes before sex

    About 30 minutes before sex

    About 30-60 minutes before sex

    Pros

    The most well known ED drug available

    A cheaper alternative to Viagra with the same active ingredient

    Quick onset of action

    Longer lasting

    Can be taken with food

    Recommended for those with diabetes

    Can be taken with a light meal

    Cons

    More effective when taken on an empty stomach

    More effective when taken on an empty stomach

    Side effects can last longer

    More expensive than other alternatives

    Often ED is caused by both physical and psychological factors and therefore therapies such as relationship and psychosexual counselling can help to boost a man’s confidence and treat some of the underlying psychological causes. 

    What other treatments are available? 

    Some men opt for natural therapies which claim to be able to treat erectile dysfunction such as acupuncture and homeopathy. However there is little scientific evidence to support this.

    Vacuum pumps

    A vacuum pump is a clear plastic tube that is connected to a pump, which is either hand or battery operated. You place your penis in the tube, pump out the air from the container and the vacuum causes blood to be drawn into the penis making it erect. You then place a rubber ring around the base of your penis to keep the blood in place and remove the container allowing you to maintain an erection for up to 30 minutes (you must remove the rubber ring after a maximum of 30 minutes). Most men are then able to have sex after using the vacuum pump.

    Lifestyle changes

    Smoking, being overweight, having a high blood pressure, high cholesterol level and diabetes can all restrict blood flow to the penis by causing narrowing of the blood vessels. Lifestyle changes such as eating a healthy diet, drinking less alcohol, exercising, losing weight, stopping smoking and managing stress can have a big positive effect on ED.

    If you need some advice on the best ED medication for you, try our free assessment and if suitable, our doctors will prescribe you a starter pack with four Viagra, Cialis and Levitra tablets to see which works best for you.

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