Aids for Impotence

Millions of American couples are forced to deal with erectile dysfunction (ED). It's the inability of a man to perform sexually.

But The Saturday Early Show's Dr. Mallika Marshall says there are ways to remedy the problem. In fact, she says there are now more medications than ever before to treat it.

Marshall took a look at the latest drugs on the market to help those suffering from ED. She also offered advice on whether a man should see a doctor about this problem.

Almost every man at one point or another has experienced problems with sexual performance, according to Marshall. She says it's not a problem when it is only an occasional occurrence. Any number of things, including stress, anxiety, alcohol consumption or prescription medications, can bring about temporary performance problems.

But, if the problem becomes persistent and is beginning to have a negative impact on the relationship, Marshall advises men to talk with their doctor, who will be able to prescribe one of several drugs to help the problem.

In many cases, erectile dysfunction is the result of an existing medical condition. Men with prostate problems, including prostate cancer, or with heart disease or diabetes, are more likely to experience ED. And men who drink excessively and smoke are also more likely to have performance issues.

There are now a number of drugs to treat ED.

Viagra works by increasing the flow of blood to the genital region. It is recommended that it be taken about an hour before any sexual activity; the effects last for about four hours. There are some documented side effects, which include headaches, flushing and visual impairments such as mild and temporary changes in blue/green colors or increased sensitivity to light.

Studies show that Viagra, which has been marketed since 1998, works for about 70 percent of the men who take it.

Levitra hit pharmacy shelves last August. Like Viagra, Levitra is also a PDE-5 inhibitor. It helps increase blood flow to the genital region. The drugs, however, do use different active ingredients. The ingredient in Levitra is more potent, so a patient has to take less of it, meaning it has fewer side effects. It also lasts in the body's system for about 6 hours, which is about 2 hours longer than Viagra.

As a side effect, some men complain of a faster pulse and say that they feel flushed. Levitra should be taken about an hour before sexual activity.

Unlike Viagra and Levitra, the effects of Cialis last for about 36 hours, allowing couples more spontaneity. The French have dubbed it "le weekend." Cialis was introduced in America in November. It starts working in about 15 minutes. Unlike the other medications, it can be taken after a full meal.

The most common side effect with Cialis is back pain.

Marshall says these medications are not to be used recreationally. They are for men with an identified medical problem. While the drugs have FDA approval and are deemed safe, there are still the side effects.

Some products claim to have the powers of Viagra, without needing a prescription. Marshall warns that these products are bogus for the most part and should be avoided. They often contain herbal supplements that have not been adequately tested, if they've been tested at all, by the Food and Drug Administration.

Marshall says men should keep in mind that erectile dysfunction could be the symptom of a more serious problem such as heart disease. When a man goes to the doctor for ED, the physician may detect underlying health issues and offer treatment options for those, as well.