ED medications work in the body to treat erectile problems, but they can treat other conditions too. 

Although Viagra is not available on prescription for the treatment of pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH), its active ingredient, sildenafil, is marketed under a different dosage and name: Revatio. This is a licensed product for the treatment of pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH).

Another popular form of ED medication, Cialis, was initially only authorised to address issues with erectile function, but in the wake of more extensive research, it became a licensed form of treatment for benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH or enlarged prostate).

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Pulmonary arterial hypertension 

When the walls of the pulmonary arteries widen and become rigid, it can increase blood pressure and result in pulmonary arterial hypertension.

Symptoms of pulmonary hypertension may include feeling out of breath, dizziness, tiredness, swelling in the lower limbs, pain in the chest and palpitations. 

PAH can be linked to other conditions, such as connective tissue diseases like scleroderma, congenital heart difficulties (for example, a hole in the heart), HIV and thyroid gland disorder. 

In a small number of cases, people develop PAH in spite of having no other health condition (idiopathic pulmonary arterial hypertension). 

It is thought that 10 percent of instances of PAH can be attributed to the inheritance of a genetic mutation.

How does Revatio address pulmonary arterial hypertension? 

The active ingredient in Revatio, sildenafil, helps to relax the arteries which lead to the lungs. It facilitates better blood flow through the arteries, and so reduces pressure and makes breathing easier. 

In treating the condition, it has also been discovered that Revatio benefits exercise capacity. This is significant, as PAH can make everyday activities such as walking up stairs, showering or engaging in gentle exercise challenging, due to its impact on breathing.

Could sildenafil be of benefit for any other conditions?

Although it isn’t a licensed medication for anything besides ED, sildenafil has demonstrated some promise in treating altitude sickness and premature ejaculation.

A number of small scale studies have shown that sildenafil is more effective at treating altitude sickness than a placebo. However, this isn’t conclusive, and so sildenafil remains an unauthorised treatment for the condition. 

In terms of sildenafil’s potential as a treatment for premature ejaculation, early signs are encouraging, indicating that the drug may enhance the patient’s view of ejaculatory control and sense of satisfaction sexually.  

Once more though, sildenafil has not been legitimised for this purpose, and patients should instead use the licensed drug, Priligy. 

Repeated instances of premature ejaculation warrant a discussion of treatment options with your doctor.  

Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia

BPH is a condition in which the prostate gland is larger in size than it should be. 

The enlarged gland may put pressure on the bladder and urethra, which can have repercussions on how you pee; finding it hard to start to pee, a frequent urge to pee and problems with emptying your bladder fully are all symptoms. 

Symptoms can vary in severity, and besides regular check-ups, in more serious cases you may be advised to use medicine to reduce the size of the prostate and help the bladder to relax. 

BPH tends to affect men over the age of 50 and isn’t typically a significant cause for concern. It’s the most prevalent cause of lower urinary tract symptoms amongst men. 

How can BPH be managed?

Symptoms of BPH can be challenging, particularly if the condition has repercussions on your sleeping pattern, but it may be improved by making certain adjustments to your lifestyle.

Restricting your caffeine and alcohol intake, exercising on a regular basis and refraining from drinking shortly before bed may all be of benefit.

How does Cialis treat BPH?

The precise functionality of the active ingredient in Cialis (tadalafil), in reducing the size of the prostate, has not been fully established. What is clear though is that tadalafil relaxes the blood supply to the prostate and the bladder, and this helps to restrict the amount of blood that goes to the prostate. This is believed to aid BPH symptoms.

Page last reviewed:  23/07/2020