Many men may experience erectile dysfunction throughout their lifetime. According to a large study in Massachusetts, over 50% of males were found to have at least mild erectile dysfunction (Levy, 1994). With people living longer and living better, erectile dysfunction will become more common in the future.

How Do Normal Erections Work?

Erections are actually complicated things. Anatomy, blood flow, pressure, hormones, neurotransmitters, nerves and the brain. Any problem in one of the components can cause issues. No wonder erectile dysfunction can be so common!

There are actually three types of erections. We will focus on the type of erection that you can control (the others include a spinal reflex and REM sleep). The most common type of erection involves the brain. Some researchers theorize that there are three major systems in the brain involved with starting an erection: a visual system, emotional system, and physiological system. There are many parts of the brain that are implicated in each system. After the activation in the brain, signals are sent through nerves down the spinal cord and into the penis. Nerves release chemicals that cause changes to the blood flowing into and out of the penis. A special type of muscle helps control the flow of blood. Both oxygenated and deoxygenated blood becomes trapped in the penis, causing the tissue to swell and harden.

How does ED Medication Work?

Now that you understand how normal erections work, you can start to see how the medication may help. The most common medications for ED and the ones that Catalyst uses are PDE5 inhibitors. These medications block a special enzyme called PDE5. After the brain activates the reactions to start an erection, electrical signals from nerves are converted to chemical signals that help the penis become erect. The PDE5 enzyme is located at this step between the nerves and the change in blood flow to the penis. Activation of PDE5 actually decreases erection, so blocking it can increase an erection. By blocking this enzyme, medications relax a special type of muscle in the penis (smooth muscles) and this helps increase blood in the penis (in this case, two negatives make a positive). With increased blood in the penis, an erection can occur.

Advantages of Medication

Consistent: Research has found that while there may be many causes of erectile dysfunction, PDE5 inhibitors can help many men. Since the effects of PDE5 are close to the end of the erection process, it can bypass many other issues that occur before this step. Additionally, ED medications that Catalyst dispenses are FDA approved so that it is held to a higher standard for quality than supplements.

Convenient: Medication can be taken as needed and wherever you may need it. The pills are stable at room temperature and can last months without decreasing in strength. You can keep a small pill even in a small plastic bag in your wallet to make sure that you have a dose ready at all times.

Non-Permanent: Medications do not cure erectile dysfunction but they can help while in a person’s system. This is actually an advantage since any side effects are mostly only temporary. Since most ED medication does not have to be taken daily and has a quick response (30 -60 minutes), it may have fewer side effects than other medications because the body is exposed to the medication less frequently.

Quality: Many believe that “natural” remedies are better for the body and safer. This is generally not the case as anything that your body does not produce itself is “unnatural”. Both “natural” remedies and medications are broken down in your body by mostly the liver and kidney. Both “natural” remedies and medications can be harmful if taken incorrectly. Medications have an important advantage in that they are regulated by the FDA. Manufacturers of medications are held to strict standards and are not allowed to change the dosage or formulation significantly without alerting pharmacies and consumers. “Natural” remedies can include unlisted ingredients but some over the counter products can also include medication in them (U.S. Food & Drug Administration, 2020). This can be especially dangerous if a doctor is not making sure that the medication is safe for you.

We hope this has been helpful! If you have any questions or comments, let us know! We hope to answer some questions publicly if it may be an interesting topic for others as well (no names included of course).


Levy, J. (1994). Impotence and its medical and psychological correlates: results of the Massachusets Aging Study. Journal of Urology, 54-61.

Public Notification: Extenze Plus contains hidden drug ingredient. (2018, 8 31). Retrieved from U.S. Food and Drug Administration: