Your ED Pill Guide: Everything You Need to Know Before Starting Them


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Whether you’re one of the 30 million men who have ED or not, you’ve almost certainly heard of Viagra. Maybe you even know about other ED medications, like Levitra or Stendra or Cialis, too. 

Understanding how they work is a whole different ball game, but it’s not complicated. Essentially, ED pills help relax certain muscles and boost blood flow to the privates — making it easier to get and stay aroused. 

Below, we dig into the details to fully answer questions like “how do ED pills work?” and “what are the side effects of ED meds?” We also explain how quickly they work, how long they last and why supplements and other over-the-counter options probably won’t cut it.

The ED Pills That Work

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved several medications for the treatment of ED, including:

  • Sildenafil (the active ingredient in Viagra or generic versions of Viagra)

  • Tadalafil (the active ingredient in Cialis)

  • Avanafil (the active ingredient in Stendra)

  • Vardenafil (the active ingredient in Levitra and Staxyn) 

If you think you might have ED, learning about these medications is a good place to start. 

Currently, these FDA-approved ED medications are prescription medications — meaning they can’t be bought over the counter. 

Doctors often prescribe oral medications as a first line of defense. But chewable ED meds like our hard mints provide a fresh and convenient solution, and they contain the same active ingredients in Viagra and Cialis.

How Do ED Pills Work?

These ED drugs belong to a class of medications called PDE5 inhibitors, short for phosphodiesterase type 5 inhibitors. They suppress PDE5 (an enzyme in the smooth muscle cells of your blood vessels) so your blood vessels widen. This can increase blood flow to the tissue inside your privates, making it easier to get aroused after stimulation.

There’s a reason sildenafil, tadalafil and other PDE5 inhibitors are some of the most common ED treatments — they work. In fact, these treatments can fully reverse ED in some cases.

The Research Behind ED Pills

Tadalafil, for example, significantly enhanced function as well as activity in men of different ages throughout clinical trials.

From the newer generation of ED drugs, avanafil has shown to be just as effective at improving function as older medications like sildenafil, tadalafil and vardenafil.

As to why Viagra is arguably the most popular ED medication? 82 percent of those taking a 100-milligram (mg) dosage saw improvement in their arousal.

On top of working effectively, these are some of the safest ED drugs, thanks to ongoing testing and approval by the FDA. That said, there’s still a chance of experiencing side effects and risks (that come with taking any medication, really). We’ll get into that below.

(RelatedThe Best ED Pills for Men: Pros & Cons of ED Medication(

How Quickly Do ED Medications Work?

Though ED pills work at different speeds based on their ingredients, most sexual dysfunction drugs take 30 to 60 minutes to start working with stimulation.

For example, experts recommend taking Viagra one hour before activity because it can take between 30 and 60 minutes for the medication to reach its highest concentration.

Cialis, on the other hand, reaches peak concentration anywhere between 30 minutes and six hours after taking it. So you’d want to take that one two hours before activity.

After something faster? The newer medication avanafil ( brand-name Stendra) works the fastest — between 15 and 30 minutes. 

Regardless of the specific medication you use, it’s best to take your ED medication about an hour before you plan to make love. Prepare ahead of time, and you’ll experience the medication’s full effects when you and your partner become intimate.

Comparing, FDA-Approved ED Treatments to Supplements

Avanafil is the only fast-working FDA-tested and approved ED drug, despite the fast-acting male enhancements being pushed these days. 

When it comes to those herbal or dietary supplements you see at gas stations or on sketchy websites, we’d pass.

While we often associate the words “herbal” and “natural” as being harmless or even better for us, these over-the-counter products may even contain counterfeit or unproven ingredients that aren’t safe or effective.

How Long Do ED Meds Last?

To understand how long an ED medication will last, you need to know its half-life — which measures how long it takes for the concentration of the medication in your body to fall to half of its peak. 

The half-life of a medication determines how long it’ll remain active in the body.

Here’s a list of both the half-lives and duration of action for four of the most common ED drugs (PDE5 inhibitors):

  • Viagra (or sildenafil) lasts three to five hours after it’s consumed.

  • Cialis (tadalafil) has a half-life of 17.5 hours, meaning this drug lasts up to 36 hours after it’s consumed.

  • Levitra (vardenafil) has a half-life of four to five hours and remains active in the body for up to six hours after it’s consumed.

  • Stendra (or avanafil) has a half-life of three to five hours and remains active in the body for up to six hours after it’s consumed.

As you can see, vardenafil and avanafil work for about the same amount of time — and slightly longer than sildenafil. But tadalafil is by far the longest-lasting of the four ED medications currently on the market. Of course, it’s important to keep in mind that men can react differently to each medication.

The information packets and FDA guidelines for these medications recommend seeking medical advice from a healthcare provider if arousal lasts longer than four hours or if it doesn’t go away on its own (a condition called priapism).

Ask your healthcare provider for more information about the half-lives and longevity of these pills. 

(RelatedWhat Foods Help with Arousal: 8 Foods For ED)

Common Side Effects of ED Meds

Now that you know the answer to “How does ED medication work?” it’s crucial to learn about the possible risks and side effects of ED meds.

Side effects may vary slightly among these medications. But since they work similarly, there are some common side effects, including:

  • Mild headaches

  • Dizziness

  • Muscle aches or back pain 

  • Facial flush

  • Vision issues, including temporary blurry vision 

  • Digestive issues or upset stomach

  • Rhinitis (hint: nasal congestion and a stuffy or drippy nose)

As a newer, second-generation ED med, Stendra (avanafil) may be less likely to cause side effects or other serious issues compared to older medications like Levitra.

Drug Interactions

There are also some potentially serious side effects of ED meds, including drug interactions.

All currently available ED medications can temporarily cause slightly lower blood pressure levels, thanks to their effects on smooth muscle tissue and blood flow. This low blood pressure is most often mild and doesn’t usually cause dangerous side effects on men’s health.

That said, if you use nitrates for angina (chest pain) or alpha-blockers and certain other medications to treat hypertension (high blood pressure), the reduction in blood pressure caused by ED medications can be dangerous. 

If you use any nitrates, it’s highly recommended that you don’t use sildenafil, tadalafil, vardenafil, avanafil or other similar medications.

And anyone currently being treated for or with a history of kidney disease, heart disease, heart attack or other cardiovascular condition should discuss treatment options with a healthcare professional.

Understanding How ED Pills Work

While ED is a common health condition, there are several ED treatments out there. So, how do ED pills work?

  • The most common ED medications are PDE-5 inhibitors. They work to help widen the blood vessels in your privates, allowing more blood flow for stronger and longer-lasting arousal. Research shows that, when used properly, these ED pills can help improve function.

  • Many of these pills work fairly quickly. Sildenafil (Viagra), tadalafil (Cialis) and vardenafil (Levitra) typically start working within 30 to 60 minutes, while avanafil (Stendra) works within 15 to 30 minutes.

  • As with most prescription drugs, ED medications can cause side effects. Some of the most common side effects of ED meds include headaches, dizziness, upset stomach, back pain and nasal congestion.

A healthcare provider can help you determine which ED medication and dose is right for 

This article originally appeared on and was syndicated by

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8 Foods that Help Men with ED

8 Foods that Help Men with ED

Whether we’re craving salt, sugar, a cold beer or a perfectly cooked steak, every guy knows how to satisfy his own cravings.

Here’s the thing though: if you’re having some problems in the bedroom, you might want to satisfy someone else’s cravings and nutritional needs.

These days when ED pops up (or rather, doesn’t pop up), doctors and knowing friends name-drop a certain little blue pill as the quickest pathway to righting the ship.

But, making changes to your habits, lifestyle and diet can also improve your performance and make it easier to get and stay aroused.

Yes, foods might be able to help play a role in managing ED — they potentially do so by improving cardiovascular health, increasing blood flow and supporting your body’s production of essential hormones.

It’s impressive that by making dietary shifts, you can make yourself healthier and stronger and maybe your arousals as well.

Below, we’ve outlined how foods do it, which foods to eat and some ways to address ED once you’re done with your meal.


Before we get into the specifics of using food to treat ED, it’s important to put the soon-to-come advice in context. We’ll skip the lecture on how arousal work — you figured that out on your own.

Instead, we’ll start with our first ED fact — that ED can vary in severity. Most of us might assume that it’s either up or down, but ED is more nuanced than that.

Some men experience mild ED — they can mostly get hard, but occasionally struggle to get all the way hard. Others have such severe ED that they’re unable to get any arousals, at any time.

Food is important for overall health and might help both types of men and those in-between, but will likely have the most effect for men at the milder end of the spectrum.

If you have mild to moderate ED, making changes to your diet and lifestyle can be an important part of making it easier for you to get aroused.

If you have severe or persistent ED meanwhile, it’s best to think of diet as one aspect of management on a list of several useful ones.

Either way, it’s important to talk to a healthcare provider to discuss the best holistic plan to address your ED. In some cases, dietary changes only have an effect in the long term — meaning you need to shift your diet long-term in order to see a potential benefit (you can’t just eat a food and expect it to correct your ED an hour later). In other cases, diet may only help if you have an actual vitamin or mineral deficiency that’s contributing to your ED, which can be rare.

We’ve talked more about the other options (including medications for ED) in our full guide to ED symptoms, causes and treatments.

But you can look at that later. For now, let’s take a peek at your pantry.


The reason the following foods might be helpful isn’t because they’re delicious or hot (you wouldn’t say that about protein powder, for instance), but because they contribute to overall cardiovascular health or contain supplies of the critical building blocks our bodies need to produce a healthy arousal.

Another great thing about these foods is that you may already have some in your kitchen right now. Many of the foods that have arousal benefits are staples, so you won’t need to find obscure ingredients or look up “tiger nuts benefits arousal”.

Some may help with blood flow, others may support your testosterone production, but the following foods might all play a role in helping your arousal if you’re willing to incorporate them into your diet:

  • Spinach, lettuce and other nitrate-rich vegetables

  • Oysters and other shellfish

  • Proteins like meat, dairy and nuts

  • Cocoa, chocolate and other flavonoids

  • Tomatoes, watermelon and other sources of lycopene

  • Avocados

  • Coffee

  • The foods of the Mediterranean diet

Now let’s look at why these foods are what your arousal might be craving.

(RelatedThe 5 Best Drinks for ED)

Maxim Sparish/Istockphoto

Your privates aren’t Popeye, but guzzling spinach might have a similar effect on your arousal that it always had on his muscles before saving Olive Oyl.

That’s because spinach, lettuce and similar vegetables are rich in nitrates, natural chemical compounds that have a vasodilating effect.

Nitrates affect a process called the nitrate‐nitrite‐nitric oxide pathway, in which nitrates are recycled in blood and tissue to produce nitric oxide — an important molecule for your vascular health and blood flow.

And most vegetables (especially the green leafy ones) contain nitrates. Research published in PLOS shows that green, leafy vegetables such as parsley, spinach and beet leaves tend to have the highest concentration of nitrates, while root vegetables and fruiting vegetables (like bell peppers) contain lower amounts.

By the way, these leafy greens are also high in folic acid, and folic acid deficiency may be associated with ED severity.


Oysters are considered an aphrodisiac, but they’re associated with arousal for more than the familiar slurping noises.

Your favorite blue points and other shellfish are actually rich in zinc — an essential mineral linked to testosterone levels.

As the primary male hormone, testosterone plays a key role in your functioning. When a man’s testosterone levels are low, he may feel less interested in arousal and experience issues like ED.

Zinc supplementation may play a role in increasing testosterone levels in men who are deficient, meaning it could help you get hard if a zinc deficiency is hindering your testosterone production.

Zinc can be found in a wide variety of foods, including:

  • Crab

  • Lobster

  • Beef

  • Pork

  • Beans

  • Chicken

  • Fortified breakfast cereals

  • Chickpeas

  • Pumpkin seeds

And zinc is also commonly available as a supplement. Oysters just contain by far the highest levels of zinc of any common food — and are the best source to consume over cocktails.


Protein will help you get swole, but sources of protein are also sources of L-arginine — a common amino acid that may help your privates get swole too.

L-arginine is used to create nitric oxide (we already mentioned how that’s important). But research has noted that men with ED often have low levels of L-arginine too.

A 2003 study  found that a combination of L-arginine and pycnogenol (a type of bark from the Pinus pinaster tree) helped men affected by ED regain normal performance over the course of several months.

L-arginine is found in:

  • Red meat

  • Poultry like chicken or turkey

  • Seafood like salmon (which gets bonus points for its omega-3 fatty acids)

  • Dairy like milk or cottage cheese.

  • Nuts like pistachios, almonds and walnuts

  • Protein powders and other supplements for athletic performance and general well-being

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towfiqu ahamed/istockphoto

Most of us view chocolate as a treat rather than a medicinal food — at best, we may fill up on it during the holidays, and keep a supply on hand for when our partner is moody.

But dark chocolate may offer ED benefits through a compound called a flavonoid, which is a type of naturally-occurring plant chemical with antioxidant effects.

Research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that a higher intake of foods rich in flavonoids is associated with a reduced risk of developing ED.

Flavonoids are found in many common foods, including:

  • Nuts

  • Tea and tea leaves

  • Cocoa

  • Dark chocolate

  • Whole grains like oats

  • Fruits like oranges, blueberries, apples and peaches

  • Vegetables like carrots and chili peppers

  • Red wine

While eating chocolate in excess obviously isn’t a good idea if you’re trying to keep weight off, eating one or two small pieces of dark chocolate each day is unlikely to hurt and it might help you to maintain healthy blood flow for arousals.


What do the most popular fruits of stage comedy performances (watermelons and tomatoes) have in common? Aside from making a great mess when thrown, they may also promote boners when consumed.

Tomatoes, watermelon, guavas, papaya and other fruits are all great sources of lycopene — an important plant-based nutrient with antioxidant properties. There may also be benefits guava leaves arousally, which we explore in this guide.

Lycopene is also associated with improved vascular function generally.

While very little research is available on the potential effects of lycopene on performance in humans, some animal research has found that lycopene may play a role in improving health.

One 2012 study found that lycopene restored arousal function in male rats with diabetes and ED, and another animal study found that lycopene may have certain benefits for cardiovascular health — an important component of arousal.

Full disclosure: animal studies don’t always translate for humans.

But the big picture is that many fruits and vegetables are also rich in other nutrients and compounds that may help with ED.

Watermelon, for example, contains the amino acid L-citrulline, which is linked to a variety of vascular health benefits.

In a 2017 scientific review, researchers found that L-citrulline supplementation may increase nitric oxide levels, reduce blood pressure and improve flow to blood vessels.

Learn about another fruit with potential benefits in our blog on the surprising arousal benefits of mangos.


They may prevent you from achieving home ownership, but avocados are rich in dietary fiber and healthy fats that can contribute to better cardiovascular health and blood flow.

There’s no direct scientific research on avocados and ED specifically, but these effects could be building blocks of improved arousal wellness.

Consider the cholesterol question. Research found that avocados may help lower levels of low-density lipoprotein, or LDL, a form of cholesterol that can clog arteries and affect blood flow.

Avocados also contain a bit of zinc (remember, zinc deficiency associated with ED severity), and small amounts of vitamin E and selenium, both of which are linked to improvements in sperm motility, semen quality and male fertility. Curious to know more about avocado benefits arousally? Check out this guide for more information about this superfood.


Perking up your sleepy daytime hours might also perk up your privates, sir.

A study published in PLOS One in 2015 analyzed the relationship between coffee drinking and ED by looking at 3,724 men aged 20 and above. These guys were surveyed about their eating and drinking habits and health.

The study found that men who consumed the least caffeine were more likely to report ED than men who consumed the equivalent of two to three cups of coffee per day.

That said, a different study published by the American Journal of Epidemiology in 2018 found no difference in ED risk between men who consumed the highest amount of coffee (four or more cups per day) and the lowest amount (zero cups per day).


No, it’s not one specific food, but hear us out. The Mediterranean diet consists of fruits and vegetables, grains, nuts and seeds.

It uses olive oil as its source of fat, and includes protein sources such as fish, poultry, dairy products and eggs in low to moderate amounts. In other words, it combines a lot of the stuff we’ve already mentioned, plus much more.

A 2017 review in the Central European Journal of Urology found that adherence to a Mediterranean diet may reduce the risk of developing ED, specifically by improving metabolism, increasing antioxidants, and raising arousal-promoting arginine levels.

The Mediterranean diet also emphasizes limiting simple sugars, salt, refined carbohydrates, saturated fats and heavily processed or fatty meats — things you should moderate anyway for your well-being.

And it even includes ingredients like turmericolive oil and lemon juice, which might also benefit your general well-being.

So maybe whip up a little salmon and a fresh salad dressing to go along with those oysters? It’s your kitchen, not ours, but by now you should understand what the best choices are.


Eating a handful of the wrong snack isn’t going to make your penis fall off (unless that snack is leprosy-flavored goldfish or something) but we have to admit that a pattern of unhealthy eating can contribute to various circulatory and metabolic syndromes that may lead to ED.

For your health, you should avoid, limit or moderate saturated fats, sugar, alcohol and a few other things.


You probably have no idea what makes a fat saturated, and that’s fine, because most people don’t.

Saturated fats are fats that are solid at room temperature, like lard, dairy and other animal-based products. They can lead to higher levels of “bad” (artery-clogging) cholesterol in the blood.

Consuming saturated animal fats and trans fats in excess can negatively impact your heart by contributing to atherosclerosis, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

Atherosclerosis is a condition in which fatty deposits accumulate along artery walls, causing the arteries to narrow and increasing the risk for heart attack and stroke.

If your arteries are clogged, reduced circulation could not only affect your heart but also your ability to achieve and maintain arousal.

You should also avoid fatty foods when taking Viagra, but that’s another story.


Sorry to tell you this, but a sweet tooth can eventually lead to a soft penis. According to the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN), over-consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages and other sugary foods is linked to weight gain and an increase in body mass index.

Obesity is directly linked to arousal issues, which makes sugar an indirect contributing factor for these same problems.


In addition to foods, you’ve gotta keep your eye on your drinking, man. Excessive alcohol consumption can inhibit blood flow, reduce sensation and revoke your arousal privileges for the evening.

One study by the Indian Journal of Psychiatry showed that 72 percent of men who are dependent on alcohol had one or more dysfunction disorders, including PE, low arousal desire or ED.


You are what you eat, but your arousal is what you eat, drink (we’re looking at you, energy drinks), smoke and do with your life. So eat better, but also do better at taking care of your arousal.

Although making changes to your diet and lifestyle can improve your performance and make ED less severe, the most effective way to treat ED is through the use of medication with clinically proven ingredients. Common oral ED treatments include:

  • Sildenafil. The active ingredient in Viagra, sildenafil (generic Viagra) provides relief from ED for around four hours.

  • Tadalafil. The active ingredient in Cialis, tadalafil is a long-lasting medication that can provide relief from ED for up to 36 hours.

  • Vardenafil. The active ingredient in Levitra, vardenafil can provide relief from ED for slightly longer than sildenafil.

  • Avanafil. Sold as Stendra, avanafil is a newer ED medication that’s fast-acting and less likely to cause certain side effects than older medications.

These medications can be found in pill, tablet or mint form, if you’re interested in chewable ED meds.


Since arousal health is so closely linked to your general health, maintaining good habits and a healthy lifestyle can often help to improve your performance.

Try the following changes to habits and lifestyle factors to improve your performance and reduce your risk of ED:

  • Maintain a healthy weight. Obesity and ED are closely linked with each other — in fact, research shows that having a body mass index (BMI) in the obese range triples your risk of ED. To reduce your risk of dealing with ED, try to maintain a healthy body weight. Although BMI is far from ideal, the CDC says that aiming for a BMI in the healthy range is a good way to limit your risk of developing health issues.

  • Exercise regularly. Research shows that aerobic exercise is linked to improvements in performance. A review of five studies published in the Ethiopian Journal of Health Science found that men with ED who engage in regular physical activity experience significant improvements in health.

  • If you smoke, try to quit. Research published in Andrologia shows that smoking is a major risk factor for ED, with the amount of tobacco you smoke closely correlated with your risk of developing ED and cardiovascular disease. If you smoke, make an effort to quit.

Making other changes to your lifestyle, such as reducing stress and treating underlying medical issues such as high blood pressure or heart disease, can also have a positive impact on your health and performance.


Picking the best foods for your arousal life is about more than avoiding foods that give you bad gas in the night — it’s about a healthy diet.

Leafy greens, dark chocolate and a dozen half shells are a good start, but you’ve got to look at the big picture for stronger arousals (and not the dessert menu). You can also read up on how other foods affect your life too, such as the benefits of pineapple.

Remember, ED is one of the most common men’s health issues out there. According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, an estimated 30 million men in the United States are affected by some level of ED.

If you want to help manage with diet, keep the following in mind:

  • YES, adding certain foods to your diet may help to improve your heart health, promote optimal blood flow and make it easier to get aroused.

  • AND over the long term, improving your diet and habits can also have a huge positive impact on your life. It can also help certain health conditions like ED due to obesity, too little exercise, or another physical health issue.

  • HOWEVER, it’s important to put the effects of an arousal-friendly diet in context. Eating more spinach is generally a good thing for your health, but improving your diet won’t cause your ED to immediately disappear. Similarly, there may be some celery benefits arousally but the research is iffy.

  • SO, you may need more help. Currently, the most effective way to treat ED is through the use of medications like sildenafil (the active ingredient in Viagra) and others.

 This article originally appeared on and was syndicated by



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