Could Friday be the most romantic day of the week? Most people pick up their medications at the pharmacy on Monday. But, prescription fills for popular erectile dysfunction drugs—especially sildenafil, aka Viagra—spike on Fridays, according to SingleCare data.
Other commonly prescribed erectile dysfunction medications include:
What’s behind this trend? Physicians explain these medications’ popularity around weekends and romantic holidays.
ED is a year-round concern
Maybe it’s not surprising that men would get prescriptions filled for ED meds in anticipation of the weekend or other special events that lie ahead.
Douglas Jeffrey, MD, a family medicine specialist in Eugene, Oregon, and contributor to eMediHealth, points out that some research has found increases in prescriptions for ED pills at certain times of year, often around celebratory days like New Year’s Eve, the Fourth of July, and yes, the so-called most romantic holiday, Valentine’s Day.
The weeks prior to Valentine’s Day are a busy time of year for Paul Gittens, MD, a urologist and founder of the Centers for Sexual Medicine in Philadelphia and New York. He speculates that some of the surges in activity could be the result of New Year’s resolutions, too, with people vowing to get certain problems addressed in the new year.
But Lawrence Jenkins, MD, a urologist who specializes in men’s health and fertility at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, says that Valentine’s Day doesn’t usually result in a big surge of requests for ED prescriptions. “I’ve never noticed a difference, mainly because most people are coming to see me for ED as a year-round concern,” he says.
Dr. Gittens agrees that it’s a year-round issue for men—and it’s not just about getting a prescription to enhance or enable their sexual performance. Many of the men who seek out his care are concerned about their health and the possible causes of their erectile dysfunction.
“They don’t want just a prescription,” Dr. Gittens says. “They want to know what’s going on and why they may need to necessarily take a prescription.”
Before you ask for erectile dysfunction medications…
You’ve seen the ED medication commercials. So, you’ve probably heard the warnings to check with your physician if you take nitrates, have blood pressure issues, or a heart condition.
There’s a reason those warnings exist. Experts say it’s important for you to get a comprehensive exam, including a physical exam and review of your patient history before you’re diagnosed and prescribed any treatment. A thorough exam will allow your doctor to look for signs of health conditions that could be causing the erectile dysfunction but could be problematic all on their own.
“ED can be an early warning sign for cardiovascular disease, like a heart attack or stroke,” says Dr. Jenkins. “It is best to do an evaluation of someone with risk factors to determine their CV risk. A stress test may be indicated.”
Other factors that can contribute to ED include diabetes, interactions with other prescription medications, alcohol use, and other types of drug use. Plus, there may be psychological factors at work. In addition, low testosterone levels also contribute to low libido and ED, which needs further evaluation and treatment if needed. You want to be able to address the root cause so you can begin the appropriate treatment.
Plus, every person is different, and your lifestyle and needs may warrant a different ED medication than the guy sitting next to you in the waiting room. Different drugs break down inside your body at different rates, and the effects may last for different amounts of time. For example, a drug like Cialis can last for 24 to 36 hours, but Levitra might only last four to five hours and Stendra six to 12 hours.
Not-so-romantic side effects of ED meds
Medications like Viagra and Cialis work well for most men and are well tolerated, according to Dr. Gittens. But they can have side effects. So, once you fill your prescription for Viagra or any other ED drug, be sure to watch out for anything unusual.
“There are side effects related to all medical treatments for ED,” says Dr. Jeffrey. “Some of the common side effects from the … medications include headache, flushing of the face and other body parts, itching, and stomach upset.”
Plus, it can cause your blood pressure to drop dangerously low if you’re taking one of those aforementioned nitrates or nitroglycerine. That is why, if you are being evaluated for chest pain or heart disease, always inform your physician regarding the use of any ED meds that you may have taken recently. You might also experience side effects with one drug but not from another, and so you might want to switch. Your doctor can help you out with that decision.
Friday or not, don’t wait if you have concerns about your ED, including possible causes, medication side effects or other issues. “It’s better to get help earlier,” Dr. Gitten advises.