Why You Shouldn’t Take ED Meds Before Anesthesia

Why You Shouldn’t Take ED Meds Before Anesthesia

We have a firm warning from the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists to the millions of guys taking erectile dysfunction (ED) drugs who are heading into surgery. When combined with anesthesia, medications such as Viagra (sildenafil), Levitra (vardenafil) and Cialis (tadalafil) can cause a dangerously severe drop in blood pressure. That’s because ED meds contain—and promote the body’s own ability to produce—nitric oxide. Nitric oxide opens blood vessels and relaxes muscles, making it much easier for erections to occur. And adding anesthesia and other medications used during surgery to the blood-vessel dilating actions of an ED med can increase those effects.

Since the average American male can expect to undergo more than nine surgical procedures during his lifetime, and a growing number of ED pills are dispensed to men in the U.S. (annually it’s around 1,200,000 Viagra and almost 3,600,000 Cialis), this is a warning lots of guys need to take seriously. We also predict that when generic Viagra is available, there will be a big increase in the size of the market—and with that an increased risk for the one-two punch of ED drugs and anesthesia.

Our advice, if you’re taking an ED medication and headed for surgery:

  • Stop taking ED drugs 48 hours before the procedure—that will allow the drug to clear your system.
  • Pre-surgery: Alert your anesthesiologist to all medications and supplements you’re taking—including ED meds. Your emergency contact should also know to tell medical staff about any ED drug use.

Medically reviewed in December 2019.

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