8 Common Side Effects of Erectile Dysfunction Drugs Like Viagra and Others

By Todd Kureih | Updated on November 5, 2022.

Even though treatments for erectile dysfunction have shown efficacy in numerous instances, they can also impart adverse reactions. Occasionally, these repercussions can be so serious that the drugs become unusable.

Side Effects of ED Drugs
ed side effects image from libidomale.org

Inside This Article
Side effects   |   Priapism   |   Body Aches   |   Congestion   |   Flushes   |   Headaches   |   Vision changes   |   Dizziness   |   Digestive problems   |    Who should not take it    |    Does effects go away    |    Option with least side effects    |    Options that don't put patient at risk

An erection requires sexual stimulation. The brain dispatches impulses to the nervous system, resulting in the secretion of chemicals that relax the muscles located in the penis and facilitate an influx of blood (1).

If any of these steps are disrupted, it can lead to impotence. Physical causes include nerve damage, low testosterone levels, and atherosclerosis. Psychological causes include stress, anxiety, and depression.

Side Effects of ED Medication


Priapism is a medical condition that results in an erection that lasts more than four hours due to excessive filling of the erectile tissue within the penis with blood (2).

This condition is observed most frequently in the elderly male population, yet it can occur in men regardless of age. It is often a side effect of sildenafil (Viagra), tadalafil (Cialis), and vardenafil (Levitra), which are used to treat erectile dysfunction.

On occasion, this might be the result of trauma or a genetic abnormality that affects the penis. Even though priapism usually doesn't put a person's life at risk, it can lead to serious problems, such as damage to the penis tissue, if it isn't treated.

Body Aches and Pains.

Numerous medications for treating erectile dysfunction are available, with each having particular adverse reactions. However, one of these medications' most common side effects is body aches and pains.

The efficacy of these medications lies in their ability to relax the muscles of the penis, however, tension and discomfort may be felt in other parts of the body. Furthermore, these medications may induce an upsurge in one's blood pressure; consequently, this can result in the development of headaches and dizziness (3).

Should one find oneself suffering from corporeal discomfort, there are a number of steps that may be taken in order to provide relief. For example, you can try taking a warm bath or using a heating pad on the affected area.

You can also try massaging the affected area. If the pain persists or gets worse, you should contact your doctor. Your healthcare provider may be able to suggest an alternative medication or alter your dosage.

Congestion and A Runny Nose

Many men who take ED medications experience congestion and a runny nose, which can be an embarrassing side effect. Congestion and a runny nose are so common among men taking ED medication that they have become known as "the ED medication nose."

It is plausible that the taking of ED medications could be linked to congestion and a runny nose. There may be a few explanations for this, with one possibility being the medication itself has a direct impact on nasal health.

Additionally, the prescribed medicine may increase circulation in the nasal cavity, potentially resulting in excessive accumulation of mucus and frequent rhinorrhea.

Ultimately, the medication can potentially decrease blood flow to the nasal region, resulting in blockage and fluid discharge.

No matter what's causing congestion or a runny nose, these are side effects of ED medications, and men who take them should be aware that they might happen (4).


In addition to the more common side effects such as headaches and upset stomachs, some men also experience flushes.

It is possible that an individual may experience a consequence as a result of taking the medication or due to an allergy to any components present in the said medication.

If you experience flushes while taking erectile dysfunction medication, it is important to speak to your doctor so that they can determine the cause and find a treatment that is right for you (5).


Even though medications for erectile dysfunction may help treat the problem, they can cause headaches as a side effect.

In certain instances, the pain resulting from headaches may be so intense as to necessitate ceasing the use of drugs. There are a few solutions at hand which may help with the problem, including adjusting the dosage or taking the medication along with food (6).

In the event that headaches continue, consulting a physician to determine if the patient is suitable for the medication is paramount.

Vision Changes

ED medication has been documented as having potential side effects which can in some cases include changes to a person's vision. Although the majority of users do not experience any long-term effects, these changes in vision can be understandably concerning for those who are affected (7).

In some cases, men have reported seeing a blue tinge to their vision or experiencing difficulty distinguishing between colors. Although these consequences tend to be relatively moderate, they can evoke apprehension in those who experience them.

It is imperative that you consult your doctor if you are taking ED medication and notice any changes in your vision.

ed drugs
ED drugs - Picture by libidomale


Experiencing dizziness is just one of many potential adverse reactions. Though it may not be the most general reported side effect, it is nonetheless a possibility.

In the majority of instances, the dizziness is not overly intense and will eventually dissipate. Still, some scenarios may occur in which the dizziness is more severe and persists for a prolonged time frame (8).

If you are experiencing dizziness side effects from sexual dysfunction medication, it is critical that you consult with your doctor so that they can help you find the best treatment for you.

Digestive System Problems

In addition to the obvious sexual side effects, several digestive system problems can also occur. These range from mild to severe and can include everything from heartburn and indigestion to gastric ulcers and bleeding.

Suppose you are taking any form of erectile dysfunction medication. Consequently, it is essential to be cognizant of these probable issues and to vigilantly observe for any signs or effects that may come about. ED medications can cause digestive system problems in a few different ways.

Initially, the administration of an erectile dysfunction medication can inhibit acid production in the stomach. These repercussions may give rise to indigestion, heartburn, and additional gastrointestinal issues.

ED medications have the potential to inhibit the body's natural digestion process, resulting in constipation as an adverse effect.

Additionally, ED medication can lead to intestinal distress in the form of diarrhea. This phenomenon occurs because the drug causes increased absorption of water through the intestines.

Who Should Not Take Erectile Dysfunction Medications?

Certain individuals should refrain from ingesting medications prescribed for erectile dysfunction due to a variety of factors.

Individuals taking nitrate-based medications for conditions such as angina or other cardiovascular ailments ought to refrain from doing so, as the combination can potentially cause a precipitous drop in blood pressure (9).

Patients suffering from medical conditions such as liver or kidney disease should exercise caution when considering the use of these medications due to potential risks.

Those taking other medications such as alpha-blockers may not be medically suitable to take erectile dysfunction medications.

It is strongly advised that individuals with uncontrolled hypertension refrain from taking these medications.

It is essential that you consult your doctor as these medications may interact with other ones that you are taking.

Does Erectile Dysfunction From Oral Medication Go Away?

It's a common question that doesn't have a straightforward answer. Erectile dysfunction (ED) is the inability to get or maintain an erection. Various things can cause it, and sometimes it's a temporary issue.

But other times, it can be a more lasting problem. Several medications can cause ED. Medications such as antidepressants, antihistamines, and those used to regulate blood pressure can be included.

Should you be consuming any of the previously mentioned drugs, and be enduring symptoms of erectile dysfunction, it is imperative that you discuss this with your physician. Physicians may suggest an alternate form of treatment. It is possible that erectile dysfunction will dissipate naturally in certain cases.

If it doesn't go away on its own, there are treatments available that can help. These include oral medications, injections, and vacuum devices.

What Erectile Dysfunction Medication Has The Least Side Effects? Viagra and Others

It is important to note that there are a number of treatments available but their effects on the body can vary greatly; some may present more adverse reactions than others. It is wise to research thoroughly and discuss with a healthcare provider before opting for any treatment.

It is prudent to examine the most prominent erectile dysfunction medications—Viagra, Cialis, and Levitra—in order to identify which one produces the best outcomes.


One of the most widely used medications to treat erectile dysfunction is Viagra, however, its usage is often accompanied by numerous undesirable side effects including headaches, flushing, upset stomachs, and nasal congestion.

It can also cause more serious side effects, like vision problems, hearing loss, and priapism, which is a painful erection that lasts more than four hours.


Cialis is another popular erectile dysfunction medication. This drug is comparable to Viagra due to its diverse consequences, consisting of headaches, facial flushing, stomach discomfort, and a clogged nose.

In comparison to Viagra, Cialis does not possess the same severe adverse reactions.


Remarkably, the most frequent side effect of Levitra is headaches. However, please be aware that other undesired effects associated with taking Levitra include but are not limited to facial or body flushing, gastrointestinal upset, and nasal congestion.

Nonetheless, it should be noted that the aforementioned side effects are not as prevalent when compared to those associated with Viagra and Cialis.


Avanafil has been shown to produce fewer adverse effects than older medications utilized for treating erectile dysfunction and is thought to be a safer option.

Can You Suggest ED Treatment Options That Don't Put the Patient at Risk?

Patients with pre-existing medical conditions, or those concerned about potential adverse effects, should strongly consider discussing the option of avanafil - a second-generation phosphodiesterase type 5 inhibitor – with their physician. Avanafil has been reported to exhibit a significantly reduced number of adverse effects in comparison with earlier erectile dysfunction medications (10).

No erectile dysfunction drug should be taken by someone who also takes nitrates for heart problems due to the risk of dangerous interactions. Alternatively, your doctor might suggest testosterone replacement therapy or surgical intervention.

Recently, the application of nitric oxide as a treatment for erectile dysfunction has grown in popularity. It facilitates the dilation of blood vessels. This induces a relaxing of the muscles in the penis, allowing blood to enter the tissue and thus resulting in an erection.

Nitric oxide is frequently utilized as a mode of therapy for erectile dysfunction due to its safe qualities, positive results, and minimal chances of side effects. Furthermore, this medication can be taken only when necessary, providing those who are hesitant to take daily medications a viable option.


Despite erectile dysfunction medications having the possibility of causing side effects, you can prevent these by being aware of the signs. If any appear, it is important to stop taking the medicine and consult a doctor straight away.

Todd Kureih

Todd Kureih is a sexologist with years of experience helping men overcome erectile dysfunction and low testosterone and boost their libido. He provides expert information on topics like male enhancement and general male sexual health.

1. Nicole Prause, and James Pfaus. (2015). Viewing Sexual Stimuli Associated with Greater Sexual Responsiveness, Not Erectile Dysfunction. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4498826/

2. Ekeke O. N., et al. (2015). Management of Priapism in Adult Men. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4370551/

3. Pietro Brunetti, et al. (2020). Pharmacology of Herbal Sexual Enhancers: A Review of Psychiatric and Neurological Adverse Effects. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7602496/

4. Hui-yi Deng, et al. (2020). Olfactory Sensitivity Is Related to Erectile Function in Adult Males. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7056663/

5. J DeFazio, et al. (1984). Direct action of androgen on hot flushes in the human male [Abstract]. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/6472125/

6. Evans R. W. (2006). Sildenafil can trigger cluster headaches [Abstract]. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16412168/

7. Eva Ausó, et al. (2021). Visual Side Effects Linked to Sildenafil Consumption: An Update [Abstract]. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33809319/

8. Kloner R. A., et al. (2001). Effect of sildenafil in patients with erectile dysfunction taking antihypertensive therapy. Sildenafil Study Group [Abstract]. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11206684/

9. R A Kloner. (2000). Cardiovascular risk and sildenafil [Abstract]. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10899281/

10. Hongtao Wang, et al. (2014). The effectiveness and safety of avanafil for erectile dysfunction: a systematic review and meta-analysis [Abstract]. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24701971/

Please note that all articles on LibidoMale should be used strictly for informational purposes only. Kindly consult your doctor or certified medical professional for medical advice.

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