Erectile dysfunction (ED) is a condition where a man is unable to get or maintain an erection firm enough for sexual intercourse. While there may be an emotional component to ED, it is caused by an underlying health condition in many cases.

Numbers suggest that almost half of the Canadian men above the age of 40 years have ED. For some men, treating the underlying cause, such as diabetes or blood pressure, resolves ED. Others may need medication to get or maintain an erection.

Oral medications are often the first thing your doctor will recommend if you have ED. These medicines work well and are not that harmful. Your doctor will help you with the best suitable medicine for you. So, if you have symptoms of ED, consult a doctor even if you feel uncomfortable.

Oral Medicines for ED

There are various drugs available to manage ED. While each drug works differently, they all improve erection by boosting blood flow to the penis. The most common medication used for ED belongs to the group of drugs known as phosphodiesterase type 5 (PDE5) inhibitors. They work by blocking a certain enzyme responsible for ED.

However, if you have certain health conditions, such as heart disease, it might not be safe for you to take ED drugs. So, when you consult your doctor, tell them everything about the health problems you have along with the medicines you are taking. All this will help your doctor to decide the best medication for you.

How oral medication differ?

Although oral medications for ED work in a similar way, the chemical make-up of each drug slightly differs. These differences influence how each medicine works, such as how quickly it works and its side effects.

Your physician will consider these factors as well as the medicines you are already taking and health conditions you have to decide the best option for you.

Sildenafil (Viagra)

It is effective when taken an hour before sex and on an empty stomach. Its effects last for four to five hours or even more if you have mild ED. Do not take it more than once a day.

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Vardenafil (Levitra, Staxyn)

Similar to Sildenafil, this drug works best when taken an hour before sexual intercourse. You can take this medicine with or without food, but a high-fat meal may prevent it from getting absorbed as quickly.

This medicine should be taken once a day and is effective for four to five hours or more if you have mild ED.

Tadalafil (Cialis)

Your doctor will advise you to take this medicine an hour or two before sexual intercourse. Its action may last for 36 hours. It can be taken in a large or smaller dose as needed.

Avanafil (Stendra)

You can take this medicine 15-30 minutes before sexual intercourse and with or without food. Depending on the dose, the action of the medicine may last for six hours. Do not take this medicine more than once a day.

Risks with Oral Medications

As medicines for ED may not be safe for everyone, it is recommended to consult your physician before planning to take one.

ED medicines may be harmful or ineffective for you if you:

  • Have low blood pressure or uncontrolled high blood pressure
  • Have severe kidney or liver disorders
  • Take nitrate drugs, which are commonly prescribed for angina

Most men on medicines for ED do not observe any major side-effects. If present, side-effects may include:

  • Headache
  • Changes in vision, such as sensitivity to light, blurred vision, or a blue tinge to vision
  • Backache
  • Flushing
  • Indigestion
  • Runny or stuffy nose

In rare cases, the following severe side effects may be seen, including:

  • Priapism: It is a rare and painful condition where an erection cannot go away on its own. If you get an erection that lasts for more than four hours, contact your doctor immediately as the condition requires medical management to prevent damage to the penis.
  • Vision or hearing loss: Some men may face a sudden vision or hearing loss after taking either oral medicines for ED. However, it is not exactly known if the loss is due to the drug or the underlying health condition. If you face a sudden vision or hearing loss while on medicines for ED, seek immediate medical attention.

Other Treatment Options for ED

Along with oral medicines, your doctor may also advise you either of the following:

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It is a naturally occurring amino acid in your body. L-arginine aids in the production of nitric oxide, a compound that relaxes your blood vessels. This improves blood supply to the penis, which is essential for an erection and sexual functioning.

Studies have shown that 30% of men on 5 grams L-arginine per day significantly improved their sexual function.


It is the primary hormone in men and plays an essential role in overall health. Testosterone levels may decline with progressing age. Low testosterone levels may result in ED along with other health issues such as low sex drive, fatigue, weight gain, and reduced sperm count.

If your doctor feels that low testosterone level is the cause of your ED, they may prescribe this hormone to treat you. In fact, oral pills are most effective when used in combination with testosterone therapy.

However, as with all other medicines, this drug also comes with its own risk. It may increase your risk of getting a heart attack. For the same reason, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends using testosterone only in men with low testosterone due to certain health problems.

Your physician will monitor you closely if you are on testosterone. They will also advise you to get testosterone levels checked to understand the progress of your treatment. They will advise you to stop testosterone medicine if your testosterone levels are too high.

Some other side effects of testosterone include:

  • Breast enlargement 
  • Fluid retention that causes swelling
  • Sleep apnea
  • Acne
  • Prostate growth
  • Mood swings

Penile injections

Along with oral medicines, penile ejections are also available to treat ED. The most common drug used is Alprostadil (Caverject, and Edex)

You will have to inject this solution into your penis about five to 20 minutes before sexual intercourse for its optimal effect. You can use it as needed, not more than three times per week. However, you can take this injection only 24 hours after the previous one.

This medicine is also available as a suppository (MUSE). With Medicated Urethral System for Erections (MUSE), you should insert the suppository five to ten minutes before sex. This medicine should not be used more than twice within 24 hours.

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Some common side effects of this medicine include burning in the urethra and pain in the penis and testicles.


There are many vitamins and supplements available in the market that claim to treat ED. Some of them promise increased energy and vitality, while others offer better sexual function. However, these supplements might not be effective in most cases and may have harmful ingredients.

Some supplements may contain drugs even if they are labeled as “natural.” So, these supplements may interact with medicines and can also cause side-effects. Thus, it is a good idea to consult your doctor before planning to take any supplements or vitamins for ED.

ED Consultation in Canada

To buy pills for ED in Canada, you need a doctor’s prescription. So, the first step is to consult your doctor and discuss your problem. They will assess your general health and advise blood tests if needed. You may also choose to get an online consultation. These days an online pharmacy is a great way to consult a doctor and get your prescription delivered at your door step.

Final Thoughts

Erectile dysfunction is a common condition and may affect your sexual life if left unattended. However, the good news is that there are various medicines available to manage ED.

While ED pills are effective and rarely cause side-effects, not everyone with ED may need them. Besides, various medicines are available, and the doctor will help you find the most suitable one for you. You may also need to try a couple of medications to understand which medicine works best.

If you have ED, consult your doctor. They will ask about your history, examine you, and advise lab tests to confirm the diagnosis of ED and find the underlying cause. If an underlying disease causes ED, managing the condition will help in reversing ED.

In case your doctor feels that you do not need medicines for ED, they may help you with other treatment options. They may also refer you to a mental health professional to help you manage anxiety related to ED. If you are planning to take natural remedies for ED, consult your doctor. Never self-medicate or treat with supplements and herbs.

You and your doctor can work together to find the best medication for you.

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