Viagra, cialis , and Levitra (vardenafil) fight erectile dysfunction by relaxing smooth muscle in the penis, a process that increases blood flow and enables an erection. The effectiveness of these phosphodiesterase type 5 inhibitors is well documented. “ED drugs are 70% effective allowing the penis to achieve hardness for sexual activity,” Irwin Goldstein, MD, director of San Diego Sexual Medicine and the editor in chief of The Journal of Sexual Medicine. And the pills are generally considered safe. Side effects can include headaches, sinus congestion, indigestion, blue vision, but all are usually mild. “They’re some of safer drugs on the planet,” says Dr. Goldstein.
If you’re on ED drugs, don’t take nitrates—such as nitroglycerine pills for chest pain or the recreational drugs known as “poppers.” The combination can lower blood pressure to dangerous levels and can even cause a heart attack.