Classification of Drugs for Erectile Dysfunction

Drugs for erectile dysfunction (ED) can be classified into several categories based on their mechanism of action and mode of administration.

Here is a classification of drugs commonly used to treat erectile dysfunction

Drugs for Erectile Dysfunction

  • Androgens- Testosterone (and others)
  • Phosphodiesterase-5 inhibitors– Sildenafil, Tadalafil, Vardenafil
  • Intracavernosal vasodilators- Papaverine-phentolamine, Alprostadil (PGE₁)

Phosphodiesterase Type 5 (PDE5) Inhibitors

PDE5 inhibitors are the most common and widely used medications for treating ED. They work by increasing blood flow to the penis, helping to achieve and maintain an erection.

Examples include

  • Sildenafil (Viagra): This medication is typically taken as needed and has a rapid onset of action.
  • Tadalafil (Cialis): Tadalafil has a longer duration of action, allowing for a more spontaneous sexual activity. It is available in a daily low-dose form.
  • Vardenafil (Levitra, Staxyn): Vardenafil works similarly to sildenafil and is available in different formulations.

Intracavernosal Injections

These drugs are injected directly into the base of the penis before sexual activity. They cause the blood vessels in the penis to dilate, producing an erection.

Examples include

  • Alprostadil (Caverject, Edex): Alprostadil is a prostaglandin E1 analog used as an injectable medication for ED.

Intraurethral Suppositories

These are small suppository pellets that are inserted into the urethra (the tube that carries urine from the bladder). They help relax the penile muscles and increase blood flow.

Examples include

Alprostadil (MUSE): MUSE stands for “medicated urethral system for erections.”

Testosterone Replacement Therapy (TRT)

In cases where ED is associated with low testosterone levels, TRT may be prescribed to restore hormonal balance.

Examples include testosterone gels, patches, and injections.


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