Alprostadil is a form of prostaglandin used to treat erectile dysfunction. The medicine is used for the treatment of impotence (the inability to have a complete or prolonged erection during sex). Alprostadil relaxes blood vessels in the penis, allowing more blood to enter the penis for a stronger erection. The drug can come as an injection, suppository or topical cream, and is recommended to be taken usually 30-60 minutes before sexual activity.
Why is This Medication Prescribed?
In men, certain types of erectile dysfunction (impotence; inability to get or keep an erection) are treated with alprostadil injections and suppositories. In some cases, alprostadil injection is used in conjunction with other tests to diagnose erectile dysfunction. Alprostadil belongs to the class of drugs known as vasodilators. It works by relaxing the muscles and blood vessels in the penis, allowing enough blood to flow into the penis to allow for an erection.
How Does Alprostadil Work?
This medication causes the blood vessels to dilate. This helps men with ED get an erection by increasing blood flow throughout the body, including the penis.
A direct injection of alprostadil can be made into the penis. You can also use it as a suppository by inserting it at the penis’ tip opening.
Caverject, Edex, and Prostin VR are all brands of injectable alprostadil. “MUSE” is the name of the suppository form (which stands for Medicated Urethral System for Erection).
Only men with erectile dysfunction should take alprostadil. It can permanently damage the penis if not used properly.
More than 80% of men with erectile dysfunction, regardless of age or underlying cause, benefit from the injectable form’s ability to produce a strong erection suitable for sexual activity.
Suppositories are less effective than pills. About 30% to 40% of men with ED experience an erection as a result of taking this medication.
How Should Alprostadil Be Used?
Alprostadil is available as a powder to be mixed with the supplied liquid and injected into the penis, as well as a urethral suppository (pellet to be placed into the urinary opening of the penis). Before sexual activity, alprostadil is taken as needed. Injections and pellets can both cause an erection within 5 to 20 minutes, depending on the individual. The length of the erection should fall somewhere between 30 and 60 minutes. Using alprostadil injections more than three times a week and not less than 24 hours apart is not recommended. In a 24-hour period, alprostadil pellets should not be used more than twice. If you don’t understand something on your prescription label, ask your doctor or pharmacist to explain it to you. Take Alprostadil exactly as prescribed by your doctor. Do not exceed your doctor’s recommended dosage or take it more frequently.
Your doctor will administer your first dose of alprostadil in the office so that he or she can figure out the best dosage for you. After you begin using alprostadil at home, your doctor may gradually increase or decrease your dose. If you don’t get satisfactory erections or if your erections last too long, tell your doctor, but don’t change your dose without first consulting your doctor.
Before using alprostadil at home, you must first receive training from your doctor. Make sure you know how to use alprostadil properly. If you have any questions about how to use your medication, consult your doctor or pharmacist.
Needles, syringes, cartridges, vials, pellets, and applicators should not be reused. Used needles and syringes should be disposed of in a puncture-resistant container. Inquire with your doctor or pharmacist about how to properly dispose of the container.
Request a copy of the manufacturer’s information for the patient from your pharmacist or doctor.
Alprostadil Side Effects
This medicine may have some unwanted side effects in addition to its intended effects. Although not all of these side effects are likely to occur, if they do, medical attention may be required.
If any of the following side effects occur, contact your doctor right away:
- Penis curves during erection
- Erection lasting 4 to 6 hours erection or longer, with severe and persistent penis pain, swelling in the testes, or pain in the testes.
There may be some side effects — common side effects — that do not require medical attention. As your body adjusts to the medicine, these side effects may fade away during treatment. In addition, your health care provider may be able to advise you on how to avoid or mitigate some of these side effects. Common Side Effects:
- Pain and bleeding at the injection site (short-term)
- Painful Erection
- Bruising in the penis at the injection site, usually as a result of a botched injection.
How Long Does it Take For Alprostadil To Work?
Alprostadil usually takes 5 to 10 minutes to start working. After taking this medication, you should try intercourse within 10 to 30 minutes. After ejaculation, an erection may persist, but it should not be firm or last longer than 1 hour.
Who Should Avoid Taking Alprostadil?
This medication is not suitable for everyone. Tell your doctor:
- If you’ve ever had an allergic reaction to alprostadil, you should avoid it.
- If you’re allergic to anything else (drugs, foods, preservatives, or dyes),
- If you’re taking any prescription or over-the-counter medications, including herbal or dietary supplements, tell your doctor.
- If you’ve had a penile implant.
- If you have a history of priapism, you should be cautious (a painful and prolonged erection not linked to sexual stimulation)
Also, let your doctor know if you have any medical issues, particularly:
- Curvature or birth defects in your penis are examples of penis problems.
- Bleeding issues
- Penis that is red or itchy
- If you’re on a blood thinner or have a tendency to bruise or bleed easily,
If you are unable to take this medication, your doctor may suggest alternative treatments.
What is Alprostadil Topical Cream?
Patients with erectile dysfunction use alprostadil cream (Vitaros), which is a topical application of alprostadil.
Alprostadil is a naturally occurring prostaglandin that dilates blood vessels to improve blood flow.
Alprostadil is a topical cream that can be applied to the penis to help develop and maintain an erection.
Alprostadil cream applied topically could be an important second-line treatment for ED. It’s less invasive than other second-line treatments, has fewer side effects, and is simple and painless to use.
The theory that topical alprostadil cream is an effective alternative to traditional ED treatments is supported by research.
The catch is that Vitaros topical cream is currently not FDA-approved for the treatment of ED and is only available by prescription in the United Kingdom and a few other countries.
Is Alprostadil Cream Effective for Erectile Dysfunction?
There is a clear link between the use of topical alprostadil cream and erectile function, according to studies. In fact, there are several advantages to using alprostadil cream.
Vitaros has the advantage of having no drug interactions. Vitaros is an effective treatment for ED in men who are unable to take first-line ED medications, such as oral PDE5 inhibitors, due to drug interactions.
Because Vitaros has no food or alcohol interactions, it also has a higher level of sexual spontaneity.
You can still eat and drink without worrying about your erectile dysfunction medication causing an adverse reaction.
Vitaros also eliminates the need for intraurethral alprostadil pellets, which are invasive and have side effects.
Many men may be more likely to use alprostadil cream instead of other erectile dysfunction medications and treatments if many of these issues and roadblocks are removed.
Side Effects of Alprostadil Cream
The mild side effects of Alprostadil cream include genital pain, tenderness, and erythema (skin redness) at the application site.
Over 97 percent of patients in a 2016 study described alprostadil cream side effects as mild in intensity and short in duration (60 minutes or less).
The cream may cause some minor side effects in your female partner. Vaginal irritation was the most common complaint among partners.
The use of a condom can help to prevent vaginal burning and itching.
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