Erectile Dysfunction Drug Interactions

Medical Author: Benjamin C. Wedro, MD, FAAEM
Medical Editors: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

The options to treat erectile dysfunction have increased in the past few years with the introduction of medications that can help promote an erection in males. Once thought to be due only to psychological factors, erectile dysfunction may occur because of a variety of medical conditions and in fact, it may be the initial presenting symptom of serious illness such as atherosclerosis and diabetes.

This illness often remains difficult for patients to discuss with their health care practitioners. With the advent of medications that help promote an erection and with increased advertisement of these medications in the media, the opportunity to have these discussions has improved.

In normal physiology, nerve impulses cause dilation of blood vessels in the penis due to sexual stimulation. Two cylindrical tubes, called the corpus cavernosum, that run the length of the penis fill with this increased blood volume and cause the penis to stiffen, straighten, and become erect. When the sexual stimulation is removed or when ejaculation occurs, the extra blood drains from the penis and the erection resolves.

Erectile dysfunction, previously termed impotence, is a failure of excess blood flow to engorge the corpus cavernosum and cause an erection. There are numerous potential causes and risk factors.