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Knowing the Side Effects of Erectile Dysfunction Drugs

Wednesday 27 March 2024
Erectile Dysfunction
6 minute(s) read

Table of Contents

I. Understanding ED Drugs

II. Common Side Effects of ED Drugs

III. Maximizing the Benefits of Your ED Medication

Erectile dysfunction (ED) impacts millions of men around the world, affecting not just sexual health but overall well-being and confidence. With the advent of pharmaceutical interventions, managing ED has become more accessible, but side effects of erectile dysfunction drugs remain a concern for those who take these medications.

Understanding the side effects of erectile dysfunction drugs is essential for anyone navigating their options for ED management. It ensures individuals make informed choices about their health, weighing the benefits of improved sexual function against possible drawbacks of medication-related discomfort.

In this article, we’ll provide a complete overview of the side effects of ED medication so you can work with your healthcare provider to choose the best ED drug for you.

Quick Takeaways:

  • Erectile dysfunction medications can improve sexual function but come with potential side effects that users must be aware of.
  • Common side effects of ED drugs include headaches, body aches, digestive issues, dizziness, slight vision changes, flushes, and nasal congestion.
  • Serious side effects like priapism, sudden hearing loss, and significant vision changes require immediate medical attention.
  • Discussing your health and any medications you're taking with your doctor before starting ED treatment is crucial to minimize the risk of adverse effects.
  • Managing minor side effects at home and maintaining open communication with healthcare providers can maximize the benefits of ED medications.

Understanding ED Drugs

Erectile dysfunction drugs function by enhancing blood flow to the penis, a process critical for achieving an erection. They primarily do this by inhibiting the action of an enzyme called phosphodiesterase type 5 (PDE5), which leads to increased levels of nitric oxide and, consequently, a widening of blood vessels in the penis.

diagram showing the mechanism of action for PDE-5 inhibitors


Among the most popular ED drugs are:

  • Sildenafil (Viagra): Longest-established ED drug known for quick onset
  • Tadalafil (Cialis): Also called “the weekend pill” and known for its extended window of action (up to 36 hours)
  • Vardenafil (Levitra): Favored for its effectiveness and mild side effect profile.
  • Avanafil (Stendra): Newer ED drug also known for reliable effectiveness

As you can gather, the landscape of erectile dysfunction treatment is rich with options, each offering its unique advantages. Whether you’re prioritizing rapid onset for spontaneous moments or seeking more extended effectiveness, there's an ED medication suited to every person’s needs.

The key lies in selecting the one that best aligns with personal health and lifestyle preferences—including knowing which drug will have the lowest likelihood of adverse side effects for you individually.

Common Side Effects of ED Drugs

Erectile dysfunction medications provide crucial benefits for those struggling with ED. However, while these drugs are no doubt effective, it's important to be aware of their potential side effects. Knowing about these adverse effects and how to manage them is key to ensuring that the treatment's benefits fully outweigh any discomfort, leading to better health outcomes.

Because popular ED medications have common mechanisms of action, their side effects are also similar. Some of the most common side effects include:


Headaches are a prevalent side effect of ED medications, stemming from the drugs' effect on blood vessel dilation throughout the body, not just in the penis. This vasodilation increases blood flow, which can lead to headaches as a response to sudden changes in blood pressure.

Body Aches and Pains

Some ED drug users report muscle aches and pains, including lower back pain. These may be related to the increased blood flow and subsequent muscle relaxation triggered by these medications. Light exercise or applying heat can soothe discomfort, as can the use of over-the-counter pain medications if necessary.

Digestive System Problems

ED medications can affect the digestive system, leading to indigestion and diarrhea. These side effects may occur as the drugs alter the smooth muscle function and blood flow within the gastrointestinal tract, disrupting normal digestion. Dietary changes, including eating smaller, more frequent meals and avoiding irritating foods, can help manage these symptoms.


Dizziness experienced by users of ED drugs can be attributed to the drop in blood pressure caused by the vasodilation effect of these medications. To minimize the risk of dizziness, users are advised to rise slowly from sitting or lying positions and to stay hydrated.

Slight Vision Changes

Temporary and slight vision changes, including blurred vision or a blue tint, are notable side effects that result from the alteration of blood flow to the optic nerve. While these changes are generally temporary, they should be monitored closely, and persistent vision issues should be addressed by a doctor.


Flushes or skin redness, particularly on the face, occur due to the widened blood vessels under the skin's surface. Staying cool, avoiding hot environments, and limiting alcohol intake can reduce the severity of flushes.

Congestion and Runny Nose

Nasal congestion or a runny nose results from the dilation of blood vessels in the nasal passages, a direct effect of the ED drugs' action on the body's vascular system. Over-the-counter decongestants may provide relief for these symptoms.

More Serious Side Effects of ED

While erectile dysfunction medications are generally safe for most men, they can occasionally lead to serious side effects that require immediate medical attention. Among these, priapism—a prolonged erection lasting more than four hours—is one of the most concerning. It can cause permanent damage to the penile tissue if not treated promptly, making it crucial to seek emergency care if it occurs.

Sudden changes in hearing, such as a decrease in hearing or hearing loss, tinnitus (ringing in the ears), and dizziness, are also serious side effects associated with ED drugs. Similarly, sudden and/or significant vision loss, including a loss of vision in one or both eyes, should be treated as a medical emergency.

Maximizing the Benefits of Your ED Medication

Before starting any ED medication, it's vital to have a discussion with your doctor about your overall health and any other medications you're taking. Some health conditions and medications can interact negatively with ED drugs, increasing the risk of serious side effects.

By providing your healthcare provider with a complete picture of your health, you can work together to choose the safest and most effective treatment option for your erectile dysfunction, minimizing the risk of adverse effects and ensuring the best possible outcome from your treatment.

Proactively managing the minor side effects of erectile dysfunction medications can also ensure that the benefits of these treatments are maximized. You’ve already taken the first step by learning which side effects of erectile dysfunction drugs to expect, how to mitigate them when they occur, and when to see your doctor for additional treatment.

Finally, if you’re looking for a safe and more affordable way to access your ED medication, My Drug Center can help. We save thousands of customers up to 80% on their medications every year, including the ED medications mentioned in this article.

Learn more here about saving on your next prescription with My Drug Center.

The information in the article is not meant to be used for treatment or diagnosis. It is designed for general awareness and for information purposes only. Always consult a medical professional for your specific healthcare needs.