If your GP decides that you require medication to help achieve and/or sustain an erection then you will prescribed either of the following:

  • PDE-5 inhibitors
  • Alprostadil

PDE-5 inhibitors

This stands for ‘ phosphodiesterase type-5’inhibitors: these are amongst the most widely used medication for erectile dysfunction. This effective form of medication works by relaxing the blood vessels within your penis which aids with blood flow. This increased blood flow enables you to get or sustain an erection, often for several hours. They do not increase your sex drive so stimulation will still be required but they are a tried and tested form of medication. There are 3 types of PDE-5 inhibitors which are:

  • Sildenafil: marketed under the brand name Viagra
  • Tadalafil: marketed under the brand name Cialis
  • Vardenafil: marketed under the brand name Levitra

These three versions of this medication are discussed in individual pages within this section.


Alprostadil is a form of medication for erectile dysfunction which is an alternative to PDE-5 inhibitors or a vacuum pump. It works in a similar way to other forms of treatment in that it relaxes blood vessels within the penis which increases blood flow to that area.

Alprostadil is a synthetic version of a naturally occurring chemical in the body called ‘ prostaglandin E1’. Prostaglandins are a group of chemicals which are similar to hormones and facilitate a wide range of functions in the body which includes the contraction and relaxation of muscle tissue and blood vessels.

This applies to many areas of the body which includes the penis.

Prostaglandin E1 plays an important role in the erection process and its synthetic version “ alprostadil does exactly the same. It causes blood vessels in the penis to widen which enables more blood to enter. At the same time it also causes another set of blood vessels within the penis (a ‘ valve mechanism’) to constrict which prevents blood from flowing out of the penis.

This causes the penis to engorge with blood, expand in size and stiffen.

Alprostadil increases blood supply to the penis and causes an erection.

Alprostadil comes in two versions:

  • Tablets (marketed as MUSE)
  • Injection (marketed as Caverjectand Viridal Duo)

These three versions of Alprostadil are discussed in individual pages within this section.

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