Erectile dysfunction (ED) treatments may be common in TV and radio ads, but ED is still a very sensitive topic that many men don’t want to discuss with their doctors or partners.
As difficult as it can be to talk about, untreated ED can lead to depression, low self-esteem, and relationship stress. In some cases, lifestyle changes like exercising or quitting smoking can help. Treatment depends on the underlying cause of ED.
Erectile dysfunction has many causes, including:
- Chronic illnesses like diabetes or heart disease
- Nerve damage
- Psychological or emotional states like depression or stress
- Some medications or other drugs
- Vascular disease
Talking to a doctor is the first step toward finding the right treatment. Your doctor will look at your health history, ask you questions, and recommend tests to determine the cause. Even though ED tends to be more common as you age, it’s not a normal part of aging but a symptom of something else going on with your health.
Treatments for ED
1. Oral medications
Phosphodiesterase-5 inhibitors are medications that treat ED caused by blood flow problems. They work by relaxing certain muscles and blood vessels so they can expand, increasing blood flow to the penis. These medications are often the first treatment for ED and make an erection possible for about 80% of those who have tried them.
Because they can cause blood pressure to drop one to two hours after taking it, men who take nitrate medications for high blood pressure, like isosorbide or nitroglycerin, can’t take them.
Phosphodiesterase-5 inhibitors are sold as Cialis (tadalafil), Levitra (vardenafil), and Viagra (sildenafil).
For men who can’t take oral ED medications, penile injection of alprostadil is one of the most effective treatments. The medicine is injected into the penis before sexual activity. It has been successful for around 85% of the men who have tried it.
It’s sold under the name Muse (alprostadil). The same medication is available as a urethral suppository.
3. Penile suppository (intraurethral medication)
Alprostadil, the medicine given as an injection, is also available as a transurethral pellet, which is a suppository that goes into the penis. Pellets containing the drug are inserted using a special applicator. When they dissolve, the medication is absorbed.
4. Vacuum pump
A vacuum pump may be an option for a man who can’t take medications or prefers a non-medicated option for ED. A plastic tube is positioned over the penis, and a pump is used to remove air from the cylinder. The resulting vacuum forces blood to flow into the penis. This method is successful for about 75% of the men who try it.
5. Surgical implants
Surgical implants may be an option for men with spinal cord injuries or neurological disorders or when other treatments don’t work. There are two different types of implants: inflatable and semirigid rods. There are pros and cons to each type that you will discuss with your doctor before making a decision.
When depression or other psychological or emotional factors contribute to ED, individual or couples therapy may help. Therapy is often used in combination with ED medication.
It Really Can Happen to Anyone
Don’t be afraid to reach out to your doctor about ED. By some estimates, about 30 million men in the US experience ED. You’re not alone, and you do have options.
Don’t suffer from ED any longer – schedule an appointment today!