In 1986, scientists discovered that nitric oxide (NO) was a potent vasodilator and could improve circulation, heart health, and anything else that relied on optimal blood flow.

Researchers at Pfizer, with big, hand-rubbing plans, began experimenting with drugs called PDE-5 inhibitors that enhance and perpetuate NO's blood-vessel dilating effects. Their goal, at the time, was to find a treatment for angina. First up was a drug called sildenafil citrate, but drug trials showed that it was only modestly effective in treating the condition.

However, some of the researchers refused to say die and started looking at the notes detailing the drug's side effects. Holy moly, there it was: A lot of the test subjects confessed to being visited by the erection fairy a lot more often after taking the drug.

This observation caused Pfizer scientists to no doubt feel a little stirring in their own pants as they contemplated the financial prospects of such a drug. They rapidly switched gears and began pilot studies of sildenafil citrate's effects on erectile dysfunction.

It was, of course, a success and in 1996 they submitted a patent for the new drug, which they named Viagra. A couple of years later, Viagra was approved by the FDA.

Few drugs have had such a social impact on society. Old men, or even not-so-old men, could suddenly indulge in a part of life they thought was lost to them. But perhaps unexpectedly, much younger men also glommed onto the drug, as they also did with its chemical cousins Cialis and Levitra, which would arrive later.

They covet the drugs because they serve as a hedge against performance anxiety and reduce downtime between sexual episodes, but it turns out there are other reasons men, both young and old, might use these drugs and they're not only health related, but bodybuilding related, too.

In fact, there may be sufficient evidence to support the idea of taking these drugs every day, like vitamins or any other health-promoting supplement.

What Erectile Dysfunction Drugs Do For Bodybuilders

PDE-5 Inhibitors Increase the "Pump"

The most elemental and basic effect of Viagra and its cousins is increased blood flow, not only to the heart and penis, but to all body parts, including muscles. More blood flow means a better pump from resistance exercise and subsequently, increased nutrient flow to muscles, which is a good thing.

PDE-5 Inhibitors Decrease Estrogen Levels

A 2005 study found that 10 mg. and 20 mg. doses of Cialis, taken an average of 10 times a month, significantly reduced estradiol levels, but only in men who didn't have too much body fat (those with a BMI of less than 27) (1). Men with more body fat have higher levels of aromatase and convert testosterone to estradiol with impunity, regardless of how much Cialis they pop.

PDE-5 Inhibitors Increase Testosterone Levels

A study of Viagra's effects on 140 low-testosterone men between the ages of 40 and 70 found that the drug boosted testosterone levels by about 100 clicks (2). While some of this rise in male hormone might be, as the study cited above implied, because some testosterone resisted being converted into estrogen, some of it was also apparently from increased testosterone production by the testes.

PDE-5 Inhibitors Increase Insulin Sensitivity

Viagra was shown to reduce diabetes-induced oxidative stress and improve insulin sensitivity. This experiment, unlike the others, was conducted on rats, but there's a decent chance it would work similarly in humans.

What Erectile Dysfunction Drugs Do For General Health

  • Cialis has been shown to quash symptoms of benign prostatic hypertrophy, like frequent urination. There's also some evidence that PDE-5 drugs improve prostate health in general.
  • Viagra has been shown to treat abnormally high blood pressure in the pulmonary arteries (known as pulmonary hypertension).
  • Despite early studies that didn't show much of an effect, Viagra and the other PDE-5 drugs have lately been shown to be beneficial in the treatment of angina, along with high blood pressure and other cardiovascular conditions.

How To Use This Info

Sporadic use of these drugs (less than 8 to 10 times a month) might not confer any long-lasting health effects. However, Cialis is currently approved for once-daily use, and it's reasonable to think that patients, young or old, who have such a prescription and are using it every day, are reaping some, if not all, of the above benefits.

However, if further research supports or adds to the list of positive research on these drugs, we might eventually get to the point where docs almost universally recommend the daily use of the drugs, just as they do with baby aspirin.

Related:  Get Harder Down There

Related:  The Vitamin Problem That Kills Your Boner

References

  1. Greco EA, Pili M, Bruzziches R, Corona G, Spera G, Aversa A3. "Testosterone:Estradiol ratio changes associated with long-term tadalafil administration: a pilot study, " J Sex Med. 2006 Jul;3(4):716-722.
  2. Spitzer M, Bhasin S, Travison TG, Davda MN, Stroh H, Basaria S. "Sildenafil increases serum testosterone levels by a direct action on the testes,"Andrology. 2013 Nov;1(6):913-8.
  3. Milani E, Nikfar S, Khorasani R, Zamani MJ, Abdollahi M. "Reduction of diabetes-induced oxidative stress by phos- phodiesterase inhibitors in rats," Comp Biochem Physiol C Toxicol Pharmacol (2005).