Our Quick (But Not Too Quick) Guide to Erectile Dysfunction Treatments

Categories Lifestyle

Any man with an email account has been subject to emails about products promising to improve their sexual performance… we run a rigid ruler over the main contenders.


The magic blue pill has helped millions of ED sufferers get the spring back in their step since Pfizer scientists stumbled upon Viagra in 1998 as a treatment for heart disorders. Vitamin V (generic name sildenafil) doesn’t actually increase your libido, it just helps improve the circulation of blood to the penis by inhibiting the PDE5 enzyme — so it has no effect on the sexual urges of women, and shouldn’t be mixed with other heart medications. Viagra doesn’t last as long as other treatments but gets you ready for action quicker than its opponents (30 minutes). The grandaddy of ED treatments once dominated 92 per cent of the market but rivals Cialis and Levitra have eaten away at that lead.



Released in 2003 by pharmaceutical company Lilly USA and a little pricier than the blue pill, Cialis has become Viagra’s main rival, with similar effects and pitfalls — so men with heart problems should steer clear. Although it’s more easily affected by fatty meals and alcohol, Cialis (or tadalafil) boasts greater duration than its rivals — it’s nicknamed ‘the weekend pill’ because it claims to last 36 hours — and early ads bragging about this, ahem, potency caused quite a stir: a commercial during the 2004 Super Bowl sent America into a moral panic until Janet Jackson’s wardrobe malfunction stole the limelight.



Third in line with about 10 per cent of the market, Levitra has the same impact and side effects as the other two members (no pun intended) of the big three, but starts to wear off after six hours. Co-marketed by drug giants Bayer, GlaxoSmithKline and Schering-Plough, the active ingredient vardenafil also claims to combat premature ejaculation, is less affected by food and alcohol, and is popular with diabetics.


Horny Goat Weed

This traditional Chinese medicine earned its nickname when a herder noticed his flock becoming frisky after munching on the Epimedium plant, which icaariin is extracted from. Sold over the counter as a tablet, powder or tea, Horny Goat Weed is an aphrodisiac for both genders — but the jury’s out on its effectiveness. One study found Viagra 80 times more potent and you need to take the horny herb for a month to start seeing some results. Side effects are mild.


Other treatments

From penis pumps and penile injections to penile prosthetic implants . . .  there seems to be an ever increasing range of options open to men who want improved performance or just any performance. But if sticking your package under the knife or into a vacuum to help cure ED sounds like your cup of tea, we recommend you see your doctor first.