Sildenafil


Byline: Dr. Eduardo G Gonzales

Im writing you because I am seeking clarification about sildenafil, a drug that was mentioned in the Health and Science section of the November 24, issue of the Manila Bulletin. What is the medicine? Is it taken orally? Is it really effective? Is sildenafil a brand name? Do I need a prescription to buy from the drugstore? What are its side effects, if there are any? K.W. Davao City

Sildenafil is the generic, not the brand, name of the most widely prescribed medication for erectile dysfunction at present. Its brand name, which is its more popular name, is viagra. Sildenafil is taken orally. It is also a prescription drug, which means drugstores are not supposed to sell it unless the buyer has a doctors prescription; but knowing how things are in this country, I wont be surprised if some drugstores actually sell it over the counter.

Sildenafil was originally intended as a treatment for coronary heart disease because it increases blood flow to the heart. However, early studies on the drug revealed penile erection as a side effect. Hence, it was developed as a treatment for erectile dysfunction instead.

Erectile dysfunction is otherwise known as impotence, the inability to maintain an erect penis with sufficient rigidity to allow for sexual intercourse. All males are occasionally unable to achieve an erection. It is only when this condition occurs frequently or persistently that it is classified as erectile dysfunction.

Impotence can be psychogenic (i.e., psychological) or organic in origin. If erection occurs on certain times of the day (e.g., when the bladder is full, during sleep, or early morning) but not during the sex act, chances are the cause of the impotence is psychogenic, otherwise, the cause is organic.

Organic causes of impotence include deficiency of the male hormone, testosterone; presence of concurrent chronic medical conditions such as diabetes mellitus, hypertension, and atherosclerosis, regular intake of certain medications, the most notorious of which are the drugs for hypertension; accumulation of fibrous tissue in the penis because of "age" or "lack of use;" trauma and injury; and, rarely, anatomic defect. …

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