Erectile dysfunction (also known as impotence) is the inability to get and keep an erection firm enough for sex. Having erection trouble from time to time isn’t necessarily a cause for concern, but if erectile dysfunction is an ongoing problem, it may cause stress, cause relationship problems or affect your self-confidence. Issues achieving or maintaining an erection sufficient for sexual activity can be a sign of a health condition that needs treatment. Treating an underlying condition may be all that’s required to remedy your erectile dysfunction. However if treating an underlying condition doesn’t help, medications or other direct treatments may be required.
Oral Medications For Erectile Dysfunction
Oral medications are a successful erectile dysfunction treatment for many men. They include: Sildenafil (Viagra), Tadalafil (Cialis) and Vardenafil (Levitra). All three medications work in much the same way. These drugs enhance the effects of nitric oxide, a natural chemical your body produces that relaxes muscles in the penis. This increases blood flow and allows you to get an erection in response to sexual stimulation. These medications vary in dosage, how long they work and their side effects. Your doctor will take into account your particular situation to determine which medication may work best.
Erectile dysfunction can often be improved by simply making some changes to your lifestyle, such as:
- losing weight
- giving up smoking
- cutting back your alcohol consumption
- not taking illegal drugs
- exercising regularly
- reducing stress
As well as helping to improve your erectile dysfunction, these changes can also improve your general health and may help to reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease.
Surgery Options For Erectile Dysfunction
Surgery for erectile dysfunction is usually only recommended if all other treatment methods have failed. In the past, surgery was used if there was clear evidence of a blockage to the blood supply of the penis. The surgeon could unblock the blood vessels to restore a normal supply of blood. However, research now suggests that the long-term results of this type of surgery are poor, so it’s unlikely to be used.
Psychological Counseling For Erectile Dysfunction
If your erectile dysfunction is caused by stress, anxiety or depression, your doctor may suggest that you, or you and your partner, visit a psychologist or counselor. Even if it is caused by something physical, erectile dysfunction can create stress and relationship tension.
Several medications are commonly injected directly into the penis to achieve an erection. The most often used medications include alprostadil, papaverine, and phentolamine. With this method, you use a fine needle to inject the medications into the base or side of your penis. The goal of injection therapies is to produce an erection that lasts about 20 to 40 minutes. If an erection lasts longer than one hour, you will need to have the medication or dose adjusted to avoid potentially long-term complications. Because the needle used is very fine, pain from the injection site is usually minor.
This treatment involves surgically placing devices into the two sides of the penis. These implants consist of either inflatable or semirigid rods made from silicone or polyurethane. The inflatable devices allow you to control when and how long you have an erection. The semirigid rods keep the penis firm but bendable. This treatment can be expensive and is usually not recommended until other methods have been tried first. As with any surgery, there is a risk of complications such as infection.
Some men have erectile dysfunction issues that might be complicated by low levels of the hormone testosterone. In this case, testosterone replacement therapy might be recommended as the first step. Testosterone replacement therapy can be delivered via injection, patch, gel, gum and cheek (buccal cavity), intranasal, subcutaneous pellet, or oral medication. Talk to your doctor about your personal preference and the possible side effects.
A penis pump (vacuum constriction device) is a hollow tube with a hand-powered or battery-powered pump. The tube is placed over your penis, and then the pump is used to suck out the air inside the tube. This creates a vacuum that pulls blood into your penis. Once you get an erection, you slip a tension ring around the base of your penis to hold in the blood and keep it firm. You then remove the vacuum device. The erection typically lasts long enough for a couple to have sex. You remove the tension ring after intercourse.