|Type of medicine
||Prostaglandin E1 vasodilator
||Erectile dysfunction in adult men
||Caverject®, Muse®, Viridal® Duo
||Injection and urethral application
Erectile dysfunction (sometimes called impotence) means that you cannot get or maintain a proper erection. There are several causes, the most common being due to a narrowing of the arteries that take blood to the penis. Alprostadil is a vasodilator, which means that it works by dilating (widening) blood vessels to improve the flow of blood. When administered to the penis, blood flow to this area is increased, resulting in an erection usually within 10-15 minutes.
Alprostadil is available as an injection treatment, which is where you inject alprostadil into the base of your penis. It is also available as a urethral medication, which is where you place a small pellet containing alprostadil into your urethra (the tube which your urine passes through and which opens at the end of your penis). You will be taught how to use the preparation you have been prescribed.
Alprostadil is available on prescription but it is only prescribed on the NHS under certain circumstances.
Before using alprostadil
Some medicines are not suitable for people with certain conditions, and sometimes a medicine may only be used if extra care is taken. For these reasons, before you start using alprostadil it is important that your doctor or pharmacist knows:
- If you have any disease, injury, or any abnormality of your penis.
- If you have been told you have problems in your urethra.
- If you have sickle-cell disease.
- If you have had bone marrow cancer or leukaemia.
- If you have ever been advised not to have sexual intercourse for medical reasons.
- If you are using any other products to help treat erectile dysfunction.
- If you are taking or using any other medicines. This includes any medicines you are taking which are available to buy without a prescription, such as herbal and complementary medicines.
- If you have ever had an allergic reaction to any medicine.
How to use alprostadil
- Before you start this treatment, read the manufacturer's printed information leaflet from inside your pack. The leaflet will give you more information about the specific brand of alprostadil you have been given, diagrams to remind you how to use it, and a full list of possible side-effects.
If you have been prescribed alprostadil injection:
- The injection is administered at the base of your penis. When starting this treatment, your doctor will give you a small dose and then gradually increase the dose. This is to make sure that you have the dose that helps your condition and avoids any unwanted symptoms. Your first injection will be given to you by a doctor or nurse, although after proper training and instruction you will be able to do it yourself at home. It is important that you ask if you are unsure about any of the instructions you are given.
- Each time you inject alprostadil, try to use a slightly different site as this will help to prevent any skin problems.
- After using alprostadil injection, you must leave at least 24 hours before using another. You must not use alprostadil injection more than three times a week.
If you have been prescribed alprostadil urethral application:
- It is recommended that you pass urine just before inserting a pellet, as this moistens your urethra and makes the insertion more comfortable.
- Your first dose will be given to you by a doctor or nurse. This is to show you how to use the applicator, and also to make sure you have the dose that helps your condition and avoids any unwanted symptoms. Your doctor or nurse will train you to use the applicator before suggesting you do it yourself at home. It is important that you ask if you are unsure about any of the instructions you are given.
- If your partner is pregnant, it is important that you use a barrier method of contraception (such as a condom) during sex. This is to help guard against any harm to the unborn baby. It will also help avoid any irritation of the vagina of your partner.
- You must not use more than two doses in any 24-hour period, and you must not use more than seven doses a week.
Getting the most from your treatment
- Try to keep your regular appointments with your doctor. This is so your doctor can check on your progress.
- Discuss with your doctor whether you can make any lifestyle changes that may help your condition. For example, reducing stress in your life, stoping smoking if you are a smoker, or cutting back on drinking lots of alcohol.
- Injections of alprostadil may cause a small amount of bleeding at the site of the injections. This could increase the risk of sexually transmitted diseases. If you are concerned about this, ask your doctor for advice about 'safe sex.'
- Make sure you follow the instructions you have been given for disposing of used injections or applicators.
- If you buy any medicines, check with a pharmacist that they are suitable to take with your other medicines.
Can alprostadil cause problems?
Along with their useful effects, most medicines can cause unwanted side-effects although not everyone experiences them. Speak with your doctor or pharmacist if any of the following side-effects continue or become troublesome.
|Very common alprostadil side-effects - these affect more than 1 in 10 people
||What can I do if I experience this?
|Painful penis, or a burning sensation
||This should soon pass, but if troublesome, speak with your doctor for advice
|Common alprostadil side-effects - these affect less than 1 in 10 people
||What can I do if I experience this?
|Prolonged and painful erection
||If this lasts for more than four hours, you must contact a doctor straightaway. If it lasts for more than one hour but less than four hours, contact your doctor to discuss reducing your dose
|Headache, feeling dizzy or light-headed
||Getting up more slowly may help, but these feelings should soon pass
|Bleeding from the site of application, bruising
||This should not last long
|Testicular pain, leg cramps
||If troublesome, speak with your doctor for advice
How to store alprostadil
- Keep all medicines out of the reach and sight of children.
- Store in a cool, dry place, away from direct heat and light.
- If you have been prescribed Muse®, keep your supply stored in a fridge. Any pouches not refrigerated may be used within 14 days, but should be disposed of after this time.
Important information about all medicines
- Never use more than the prescribed dose. If you suspect that you or someone else might have had an overdose of this medicine, go to the accident and emergency department of your local hospital. Take the container with you, even if it is empty.
- If you are having an operation or any dental treatment, tell the person carrying out the treatment which medicines you are taking.
- This medicine is for you. Never give it to other people, even if their condition appears to be the same as yours.
- If you have any questions about this medicine ask your pharmacist.