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Erectile Dysfunction


Erectile dysfunction (ED), or impotence, is when you cannot get or keep an erection for sexual activity.



  • ED medicines that help you have an erection may be prescribed. These medicines are taken before you have sex. Follow your healthcare provider's instructions on when and how to take these medicines. You may have a life-threatening reaction if you mix these medicines with medicines that contain nitrates. Medicines with nitrates include nitroglycerin and other heart medicines.
  • Testosterone may be given to increase the levels in your blood and improve your ED. You may need to use a skin cream or wear a patch.
  • Take your medicine as directed. Call your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

Manage your risk factors for ED:

  • Do not smoke. If you smoke, it is never too late to quit. Ask for information about how to stop smoking if you need help.
  • Limit alcohol. Men should limit alcohol to 2 drinks a day. A drink of alcohol is 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1½ ounces of liquor.
  • Manage your medical conditions. Eat a variety of healthy foods and stay active. This can help control high blood pressure, diabetes, or obesity.
  • Reduce stress. Learn ways to relax, such as deep breathing, meditation, and listening to music.

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • You have changes in your vision, headaches, or back pain after you take ED medicine.
  • You have a painful erection.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Seek immediate care or call 911 if:

  • You have chest pain, dizziness, or nausea after you take ED medicines or during or after sex.
  • You have an erection for more than 4 hours after you take your ED medicine.
  • You see blood in your urine.

Learn more about Erectile Dysfunction (Discharge Care)

Associated drugs

IBM Watson Micromedex

Symptom checker

Mayo Clinic Reference Guides (External)

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.