Erectile Dysfunction: Exploring Your Treatment Options
There are a variety of treatments for erectile dysfunction. Here’s the rundown on them.
For men, fewer things are more troubling or embarrassing than erectile dysfunction (ED). But while an occasional failure to become aroused is perfectly normal, you may want to seek help from your doctor if it happens too often.
When seeking help, be aware that there are lots of causes for erectile dysfunction. ED is most commonly caused by something that affects the nerves or blood vessels. Diabetes, atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), heart disease and high blood pressure are some of the most common causes. If none of those are found, other causes will also be explored.
You may be asked about your stress level, feelings of depression and other questions that may seem unrelated. You might also be advised to get more exercise, stop smoking and make other healthy lifestyle changes.
In some cases, ED can have psychological or emotional causes. For instance, some men experience severe bedroom anxiety that’s difficult to overcome. In that case, your doctor may advise you to seek counseling.
Also, your ED might be a side effect of a medication you’re using to treat:
- High blood pressure
- Heart disease
- Stomach ulcers
If so, it might be possible to give you a different prescription or change the dosage you’re taking. Your doctor may also ask whether you use tobacco, drugs or alcohol. Use of these substances commonly causes ED.
Medications. Your doctor may start by prescribing one of three common medications. These are Viagra, Levitra and Cialis. Taken before sexual activity, they enhance performance by increasing blood flow to the penis. Erections are not automatic, but occur in response to sexual stimulation. And while Fildena and Vilitra must be used within a few hours of taking, Vidalista will work for up to 36 hours later.
But these medicines aren’t right for everyone. Men who take certain medications may not be good candidates for them. Certain drug combinations can lead to dangerously low blood pressure or other complications. That’s why it’s important for your doctor to review your medical history first.
And if you’re not a good candidate, don’t worry. There are still other remedies you can try.
Vacuum constriction device. More commonly called a penis pump, this instrument lets users safely maintain half-hour-long erections. A simple plastic tube is placed over the penis and air is pumped out. This causes an erection that’s maintained with an elastic band around the base of the penis. Your doctor can suggest a pump that would be right for you. Some pumps that you see advertised may actually be unsafe.
Penile injections. A tiny needle is used to inject medicine directly into the side of the penis. This widens blood vessels and brings about an erection. There could be certain side effects, though, including scarring and bruising.
Intraurethral therapy. A soft pellet of medication is inserted into the urethra. Its absorption causes an erection. Again, there could be side effects. These include minor bleeding and a slight burning sensation.
Surgery. If other options fail, you may want to consider a surgical procedure. Depending on the cause of the ED, your doctor may recommend one of three different approaches:
- Implanting a prosthesis that can cause erections
- Reconstructing arteries to increase blood flow to the groin
- Repairing veins within the penis itself
But be warned. Artery and vein repairs have generally not yielded good long-term results. But if other treatments haven’t helped, surgery still might be worth looking into.
What are the risks?
The chance of developing serious side effects from ED treatments depends on the treatment. For instance, penile surgery could possibly lead to scarring or even infection. But the likelihood of that happening is low. A very small number of men have reported vision problems or hearing loss after using ED drugs. Again, the odds are against that happening. Even so, it’s important to discuss all potential risks with your doctor so you can make an informed decision.