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Drugs & Supplements

Alprostadil (Injection therapy)

(Also Called 'Edex')

Brand name: Caverject, Edex, Prostin VR

What is alprostadil?

Alprostadil belongs to a group of medicines called vasodilators. These drugs can increase blood flow by expanding blood vessels. This medicine is identical to a naturally occurring substance found in the body that helps keep the blood vessels open and increases blood flow. Alprostadil helps treat ED by increasing the blood flow to the penis, thus causing an erection.

Alprostadil injection should not be used as a sexual aid by men who do not have erectile dysfunction. If this medicine is not used properly, permanent damage to the penis and loss of the ability to have erections could result.

Alprostadil is also available as an intraurethral suppository.

How should alprostadil be used?

There are several alprostadil products that can be injected. The injection method for these products is the same, however the methods for preparing the mixtures are different. Be sure you know which product you are using and that you fully understand the proper way to mix the injection. Do not use alprostadil more often than your doctor has ordered, or in larger amounts; this could result in permanent damage to the penis.

Before drawing the medicine into the syringe, be certain that you have washed your hands with soap and water and set the bottles on a clean surface. It is also important to wipe the tops of the injection bottles with an alcohol swab. Do not wipe the needle with the alcohol swab.

After a single-use injection is mixed, alprostadil must be used immediately. Throw away any unused mixture in the syringe. It cannot be stored for later injection. Do not reuse your needles.

If you have any questions about how to use this medication, ask your doctor or pharmacist.

How effective is alprostadil?

Alprostadil causes an erection firm enough for sexual intercourse in approximately 80 percent of men, regardless of their age or the cause of ED.

How quickly will alprostadil begin to work?

Alprostadil usually begins to work in about 5 to 10 minutes. Intercourse should be attempted within 10 to 30 minutes after using this medication. An erection may continue after ejaculation.

Are there any precautions I should take before taking alprostadil?

Before taking alprostadil tell your doctor:

  • If you have ever had an allergic reaction to alprostadil
  • If are allergic to any other substances such as foods, preservatives or dyes
  • If you are taking any prescription or over-the-counter medicine including herbal and dietary supplements.
  • If you have a penile implant.
  • If you have a history of priapism
  • If you have any medical problems, especially:
    • Abnormalities to your penis such as curvature or birth defects
    • Bleeding problems
    • Penile infection
    • Red or itchy penis
    • Conditions that cause thickened or slower blood flow such as leukemia, multiple myeloma, polycythemia, sickle cell disease or thrombocythemia

What are the side effects of alprostadil?

Side effects with alprostadil are not common, but they do occur. Contact your doctor if any of the following symptoms become worse or do not go away.

  • Bleeding at the site of injection
  • Pain at the site of injection
  • Painful erection
  • Bruising or clotted blood in the area of the injection. This is usually caused by an incorrect injection.
  • Prolonged erection
  • Penile scarring
  • Erectile curvature

When should I call the doctor?

Contact your doctor immediately if the following side effects occur:

  • Curving of the penis with pain during an erection
  • Erection continues for four to six hours with severe and continuing pain in the penis
  • Swelling in or pain of the testes
  • Dizziness
  • Faintness
  • Pelvic pain
  • Flu-like symptoms

What storage conditions are needed for alprostadil?

Alprostadil should be kept in its original container and out of the reach of children. While in powder form, alprostadil can be stored at room temperature, away from excess heat or moisture (such as the bathroom) for up to three months. Do not keep outdated medicine or medicine that you no longer need.

References

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This information is provided by the Cleveland Clinic and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or health care provider. Please consult your health care provider for advice about a specific medical condition. This document was last reviewed on: 3/27/2012...#10051