The list of possible side effects from any of the three major drugs prescribed for erectile dysfunction could fill several pages. Most of the side effects of erectile dysfunction meds involves possible interactions with medications taken for other conditions. Men taking nitroglycerine-type heart medications, for example, are warned not to take Viagra, Cialis or Levitra. Fortunately, the list is relatively short for most men and there are few, if any, side effects.
The study of side effects is itself an entire branch of science. Side effects are usually associated with drugs, which comprises a substantial portion of the science. But they can occur with any treatment, including surgery and even psychotherapy. Anything which produces a secondary, generally undesired effect can be labeled a side effect.
Anyone who is allergic to any of these medications should, obviously, not usually take them. The allergic reaction may be mild and perceived as worth the ‘cost’ of a renewed sex life. But allergic reactions are signs that the immune system has gone into overdrive. At minimum, a visit to the doctor is warranted to discuss the issue.
Headaches occur in about 16% of men taking Viagra. Indigestion is present in about seven percent. Even nasal congestion is a possibility, afflicting about 4% of those who take the little blue pill. Urinary tract infections have been reported, by about 3% of those who take Viagra. Diarrhea occurs in an equal number of cases. Similar numbers and symptoms are reported for both Cialis and Levitra, as well.
The numbers reported above are approximate and averages, since different studies report slightly different numbers and not all patients are affected equally. A ‘headache’, after all, may be mild or severe, short or long lasting. Whether it’s reported at all will vary from person to person. Also, many men have underlying conditions that can make ascribing the effect to one of the three major PDE-5 inhibitor drugs listed difficult.
In rare cases, a condition called NAION (Non-arteritic Anterior Ischemic Optic Neuropathy) may occur. This involves a sudden loss of vision in one or both eyes. Anyone taking any of the three that experiences partial or temporary blindness should, of course, immediately report the fact to his physician. Other forms of neuropathy, especially in men who suffer from diabetes, are more common.
Side effects occur in treatments other than drug use as well.
Penile implants, for example, while generally safe, do carry certain risks. Like any surgery, the possibility of a reaction to anesthesia is possible. The implant itself can produce tissue scarring, which may result in the need to remove the implant. Still, 85% of men who received an implant have their original ten years later.
Even psychotherapy can have undesirable, unintended consequences. The therapist is, after all, giving advice about how to understand causes and make changes. Incorrect advice -- recommending a change in employment for anxiety relief when the cause is a hormonal issue, for example -- can result in a negative outcome (say, in the form of lowered income).
As with any course of action, there are potential risks and benefits associated with any proposed treatment. But given the millions of men drawn from the 80%-90% who report satisfaction with their chosen method, obviously many see the upside as greater.