A number of non-oral ED treatments, such as Vitaros, contain an ingredient called alprostadil. This is different to the type of medicine contained in most oral treatments (PDE5 inhibitors), but is used to achieve the same end result.

On this page, we’ll explain:

What is alprostadil?

Alprostadil is a synthetic version of a chemical known as prostaglandin (PGE1).

PGE1 plays an important role in the physical process which leads to an erection. When a man is sexually stimulated, this chemical helps to relax the penile smooth muscle, and allow for better blood flow into the penis for it to become erect.

PGE1 also works to restrict the amount of blood leaving the penis during an erection, thus helping to maintain it during sex.

ED can often be a result of poor blood flow to the penis, leading to difficulty obtaining and sustaining an erection sufficient for intercourse. Alprostadil is a vasodilator and works in the body by widening the blood vessels in the penis in order to improve blood flow.

What medicines is alprostadil used in?

Alprostadil is the active ingredient in Vitaros, Caverject and MUSE.

These are generally recommended to patients with ED who either tried oral treatments and found them to be ineffective, or who are not able to take them due to preclusions on medical grounds (if they have a condition, or are taking contraindicatory medicines).

What makes it different to other ED treatments?

Alprostadil products are administered in different ways to oral ED treatments, such as PDE5 inhibitors like Viagra and Spedra.

There are, at present, three different methods of application for ED products containing alprostadil:

  • Urethral cream (Vitaros)

Alprostadil is available as a cream known as Vitaros. It comes in doses of 200 mcg or 300 mcg. The cream is applied to the tip of the penis using a single-use applicator.

This non-invasive treatment can produce noticeable effects from 5 to 30 minutes, and continues to work for up to 2 hours.

  • Penile injection (Caverject)

Alprostadil is available as a treatment directly administered to the base of the penis via an injection, known as Caverject. The treatment is available in several different doses (10 mcg, 20 mcg and 40 mcg). Your doctor may suggest an adjustment to your dose depending on your reaction to the treatment.

The drug gets to work usually within 20 minutes and lasts for approximately an hour.

  • Urethral suppository (MUSE)

MUSE comes as a pellet, which is inserted into the tip of the penis (urethra) using an applicator. It is available in four doses: 125 mcg, 250 mcg, 500 mcg and 1000 mcg.

The suppository can help users obtain a successful erection within five to ten minutes. An erection obtained through MUSE should last for up to an hour.

How effective is Vitaros?

In a clinical study, 83 percent of participants with severe ED reported that they had significantly improved erectile function when using Vitaros.

Oral ED treatments didn’t work for me. Will Vitaros?

Potentially it could, yes.

If you have previously taken oral treatments, such as Viagra or Levitra, and they did not produce a satisfactory result or you were unable to tolerate the side effects then your doctor may suggest trying a form of alprostadil.

Furthermore, alprostadil products may be suitable for men who feel more comfortable using a cream, injection or suppository rather than a tablet.

However, there is no guarantee that this type of treatment will work for you. It might be necessary to try more than one treatment before finding one that works, and that you’re comfortable with.

European guidelines outlined by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) state that alprostadil should be considered for patients where PDE5i medications have proven ineffective, have been poorly tolerated or are contraindicated.

How can I buy Vitaros?

Before starting treatment with Vitaros or any of the drug mentioned above, you will need to have a consultation with a doctor. If it is established that Vitaros is suitable for you, then your doctor will issue you with a prescription. This prescription can then be used to obtain your ED medication.

You can read more on our medicine page on how to buy Vitaros online from our UK pharmacy.

Is generic Vitaros (alprostadil) available?

At present, no. There is currently no generic medicine on the market for erectile dysfunction which contains alprostadil.

When the patent on Vitaros (and Caverject and MUSE) expires, and other drug manufacturers are able to develop their own generic versions, this may well change.

We’ll update this page when these medicines become legally available.

Page last reviewed:  19/04/2018