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Apomorphine for ED: Does It Work?

Kristin Hall, FNP

Reviewed by Kristin Hall, FNP

Written by Rachel Sacks

Published 03/08/2023

Wondering about apomorphine for ED? Here’s everything you need to know.

If you struggle with erectile dysfunction (ED), you’ve probably wondered what the best possible treatment could be. And with a wide variety of erectile dysfunction medications available, finding the right one can be tricky.

You may even be curious about a newer treatment for erectile dysfunction called apomorphine. Apomorphine is part of a class of medications known as dopamine agonists — prescription drugs that work by mimicking dopamine, a naturally produced chemical in the brain responsible for pleasure, movement and more.

But is apomorphine for ED an effective treatment? If so, what are the risks and side effects of this medication? Keep reading to learn more about the medication and if you should buy apomorphine for ED.

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To understand whether apomorphine for ED is effective, it’s helpful to know what ED is.

Erectile dysfunction is a man’s inability to get or maintain erections firm enough for penetrative sex. You may also have erectile dysfunction if you find it difficult to maintain an erection during sex or can’t get an erection at all, even with sexual stimulation.

There are various causes of ED, and certain factors may increase the risk of sexual dysfunction. You might be more prone to ED if you’re older, have a medical condition, take certain medications or make certain unhealthy lifestyle choices, such as smoking.

Sexual dysfunction can also be a result of psychological causes, such as anxiety, depression, low self-esteem or other mood disorders.

How erections work might seem like a straightforward process, but it actually involves many brain and body functions. Erections occur when you feel sexual arousal, either from physical or mental stimulation.

Sexual stimulation causes nerves located inside your penis to release neurotransmitters that cause the smooth muscle of your blood vessels to relax, widening the diameter of your blood vessels and increasing blood flow to the erectile tissue inside your penis.

This increased blood flow is what gives your erection its size and firmness, allowing you to engage in a satisfying sexual performance.

There are three types of FDA-approved treatments for erectile dysfunction:

Our guide to erectile dysfunction treatments goes into more detail about the treatment of erectile dysfunction and how these options work.

Another treatment for erectile dysfunction that’s gained recent attention? Apomorphine.

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Apomorphine is a drug typically used to treat Parkinson’s disease, a nervous system disorder that causes difficulty with movement, balance and muscle control.

This medication is part of a group of medications known as dopamine agonists that imitate the effects of dopamine when levels of the neurotransmitter are low.

Research has found that sexual stimulation that causes penile erection is controlled by different areas of the brain and involves different neurotransmitters — one of which is dopamine.

Dopamine, known as a “feel-good” chemical, is responsible for your brain’s reward processes and pleasure center. When you do something that feels good, it triggers a dopamine release, and you want to repeat the action to feel that dopamine rush again. Sexual stimulation, for example, provides a dopamine rush.

Dopamine has also been found to be a part of the process of getting an erection, as well as sexual motivation and arousal. Experimental studies of male rats found that not only was dopamine involved with sexual motivation, but it also triggered erections.

Research shows there are two major groups of dopamine receptors, D1 and D2, with subgroups that are responsible for many behavioral and hormonal effects in our body.

Dopamine agonists bind to the D1 and D2 groups of dopamine receptors in the brain, copying the effects of the neurotransmitter to improve disorders that occur from low levels of dopamine.

Apomorphine is a short-acting injectable medication with some adverse effects — as is the case with any medication — and has been approved for the treatment of erectile dysfunction in Europe. This medication also comes as a sublingual tablet that dissolves under the tongue.

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Low doses of apomorphine have been found to be effective in the treatment of erectile dysfunction. Sublingual apomorphine has been found to take only 20 minutes to be effective, compared to an hour for other oral ED treatments.

Another study comparing the dosage of sublingual apomorphine found that a dose range of 2 to 3 milligrams was most effective, with the least side effects on over 5,000 patients with erectile dysfunction.

Common side effects of apomorphine include:

  • Nausea

  • Dry mouth

  • Headache

  • Vomiting

  • Tiredness

  • Arm, leg or back pain

Apomorphine may be the most effective treatment for mild or moderate erectile dysfunction, as well as psychogenic ED (the inability to get an erection due to psychological reasons).

But compared to PDE-5 inhibitors, apomorphine isn’t as effective as a treatment for erectile dysfunction.

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If you struggle to get or maintain erections firm enough for sex, you could be dealing with erectile dysfunction, a common form of sexual dysfunction among men. Fortunately, there are several treatments available for the management of erectile dysfunction — one of which is apomorphine.

Apomorphine is a type of medication known as a dopamine agonist, which works by imitating the neurotransmitter dopamine. Dopamine plays a role in pleasure-seeking, reward and motivation. When you do something that feels good — sexual arousal, for example — you experience a dopamine rush.

Dopamine is associated with erections and sexual dysfunction in men. An effective treatment for erectile dysfunction, apomorphine works by mimicking the effects of dopamine.

Bear in mind apomorphine is only available by prescription, so you’ll want to talk to your healthcare provider about this as a potential treatment. With their help, you can figure out the best treatment plan for your ED based on your symptoms, health and other factors.

Connect with a sexual health provider online at Hims today.

5 Sources

  1. Choi, J., Horner, K.A. Dopamine Agonists - StatPearls - NCBI Bookshelf. (2022, June 27). NCBI. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK551686/
  2. Apomorphine Injection. (2022, July 15). MedlinePlus. Retrieved from https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a604020.html
  3. Dean, R. C., & Lue, T. F. (2005). Physiology of Penile Erection and Pathophysiology of Erectile Dysfunction. The Urologic clinics of North America, 32(4), 379. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1351051/
  4. Watson, S. (2021, July 20). Dopamine: The pathway to pleasure. Harvard Health. Retrieved from https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/dopamine-the-pathway-to-pleasure
  5. Giuliano, F., & Allard, J. (2001). Dopamine and male sexual function. European urology, 40(6), 601–608. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11805404/
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Hims & Hers has strict sourcing guidelines to ensure our content is accurate and current. We rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We strive to use primary sources and refrain from using tertiary references. See a mistake? Let us know at [email protected]!

This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for and should never be relied upon for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment. Learn more about our editorial standards here.

Kristin Hall, FNP

Kristin Hall is a board-certified Family Nurse Practitioner with decades of experience in clinical practice and leadership. 

She has an extensive background in Family Medicine as both a front-line healthcare provider and clinical leader through her work as a primary care provider, retail health clinician and as Principal Investigator with the NIH

Certified through the American Nurses Credentialing Center, she brings her expertise in Family Medicine into your home by helping people improve their health and actively participate in their own healthcare. 

Kristin is a St. Louis native and earned her master’s degree in Nursing from St. Louis University, and is also a member of the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners. You can find Kristin on LinkedIn for more information.

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