Alprostadil Pellets and Penile Injection Therapy


Alprostadil is a drug that dilates (expands) arterial vessels and relaxes the smooth muscle of the erectile tissue in the penis. This allows blood to flow to the erectile tissue and fill them more easily. Alprostadil is also known as prostaglandin E1.

Like the PDE-5 drugs, alprostadil and related drugs can only make erections easier to achieve. They cannot cure erectile dysfunction or create sexual desire.

A pellet form of alprostadil (brand name: Muse®) is approved. The pellet is inserted into the opening at the tip of the penis. Alternatively, injectable alprostadil (brand names: Caverject®, Edex®) can be self-administered by injection into the side of the penis. Older drugs, such as paperavine, can also be used instead of alprostadil.

Because alprostadil can cause blood pressure to drop too low, among other possible side effects, the first dose of an alprostadil pellet, alprostadil injection, or other drug for injection into the penis should be supervised by your physician.

Your physician should evaluate the safety of these treatments for you, discuss their benefits and any precautions, and teach you how to administer them. Although injections may not sound appealing, they can work effectively for some men who find that PDE-5 drugs don’t work. Pellet insertions may be a workable alternative for individuals who don’t like injections.

Alprostadil should not be administered more than once per day. If you are unusually uncomfortable or have pain or other problems after inserting the pellet or performing an injection, call your physician.

If you develop priapism (erection that lasts too long), make sure you get emergency treatment to keep the erection from lasting longer than 3 hours. Although this side effect is uncommon, it can cause permanent damage to your penis if allowed to continue. Your physician should provide you with a way to obtain urgent medical care for priapism. If your physician is not reachable urgently for treatment, go to the emergency department of a nearby hospital.


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