5 Tips for Taking ED Medication Effectively

Dr. Patrick Carroll, MD
Medically reviewed by Patrick Carroll, MD Written by Our Editorial Team Last updated 4/10/2020

Medications like sildenafil (Viagra®), vardenafil and tadalafil can be highly effective for treating erectile dysfunction, more commonly known as ED.

Like other prescription medicines, the most commonly prescribed medications for ED work the best when they’re taken in the right conditions. From your mental state to your diet, a variety of factors can influence the effectiveness of drugs like Viagra® and Cialis®.

Understanding the optimal conditions for using ED medication can not only help you get better effects — it could also reduce the risk of you experiencing side effects.

Below, we’ve shared five tips that you can use to take ED medication more effectively and get the best possible results from every tablet.

Take Your ED Medication 30-60 Minutes Before Sex

Most of the medications used to treat erectile dysfunction take approximately 15 to 60 minutes to "kick in" and start producing a noticeable effect on your ability to develop and maintain an erection.

For example, sildenafil — the active ingredient in Viagra and Revatio® — takes 30 to 60 minutes to become fully active in the body. The amount of time required for it to start taking action depends on a variety of factors, from your diet to your personal metabolism.

Tadalafil — the active ingredient in Cialis — can take  up to an hour to begin working, although most people notice the effects within 30 minutes.

If you take your ED medication too soon before sex, it might not become active quickly enough and you could be left with an awkward situation where the drug isn’t quite fully active when you need it most.

Simply put, it’s always best to be prepared. If you expect to have sex, make sure you take your sildenafil, vardenafil, tadalafil or other ED treatment ahead of time. This not only ensures it will be active and effective — it can also act as a useful confidence boost.

Avoid Heavy, Fatty Meals Before Using ED Medication

As a general rule, it may be best to avoid fatty meals on the days you plan to take sildenafil or other ED medication. It’s okay to have some fat, but extremely fat-heavy meals such as a fatty steak, burger, lasagna or omelet are usually best avoided.

If you can’t resist a satisfying meal, try to make sure you have it for breakfast or lunch instead of dinner, assuming you plan to take your ED medication towards the end of the day.

This way, your body will have already metabolized the fat content of the meal before you take the sildenafil or other ED medication, making it quicker and easier to absorb the drug.

If It Doesn’t Work The First Time, Don’t Panic

Erectile dysfunction drugs come in many forms. They also come in several different doses. If you take sildenafil or another ED drug and don’t notice any effects, there may be reason to panic and assume that your ED issues are permanent.

ED can occur for a variety of reasons. Sometimes, it’s physical, with your body just needing a little help to develop and sustain an erection. Sometimes, it’s psychological, with an issue such as sexual performance anxiety affecting your ability to develop an erection in the first place.

If you don’t see any improvement from using ED medication the first time, your doctor might be able to switch you to a different medication or adjust the dose to provide a stronger effect.

ED drugs are prescribed for a reason — they work. If you don’t notice any effect the first time, don’t panic. More often than not, there is a solution available and your ED doctor may be able to  help you find it.

Before You Take ED Medication, Check for Drug Interactions

If you currently take medication for conditions like high blood pressure, it’s important that you talk to your healthcare provider about any possible interactions before using ED medication.

ED medications like sildenafil do have some  potential interactions. They can interact with some of the medications prescribed for treating hypertension (high blood pressure), HIV and other health conditions.

Before you start taking any ED medication, it’s best to speak to your healthcare provider and disclose all of the prescription and non-prescription drugs you take on a regular basis. They will be able to inform you of any potential interaction risks and provide expert assistance.

Treat ED With a Healthy Lifestyle, Not Just Medication

Erectile dysfunction medications like sildenafil, tadalafil and others are moderately safe when used as prescribed. However, it’s also important to live a healthy lifestyle that reduces your ED risk factors and symptoms in the first place.

ED can be caused by health conditions such as high blood pressure, obesity, high cholesterol and diabetes. In some cases, ED can correspond with an unhealthy lifestyle or issues such as obesity.

By fixing these health problems with a healthy diet and lifestyle, you may often be able to improve your ability to develop and sustain an erection, making ED drugs less necessary than they once were for normal sexual activity.

As always, it’s best to talk to your doctor about improving your health and fitness using diet and lifestyle choices. Sometimes, even a small improvement in your weight, blood pressure, general fitness level of diet can have a huge positive effect on your health and sexual performance.

This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for and should never be relied upon for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment.