Erectile dysfunction (ED), also known as impotence, happens when you can’t get or keep an erection of the penis that’s adequate for the sexual satisfaction of both partners. While almost all adult males have ED once in a while, as many as 30 million American men have it regularly. Nearly all men who seek treatment for ED find some relief.
In the past, doctors tended to blame erectile dysfunction on psychological problems or, with older men, on the aging process. Medical opinion has changed. While it takes longer to get aroused as you age, regular erectile dysfunction deserves medical attention. Also, the problem isn’t usually psychological. Urologists now think physical problems contribute to most long-lasting cases of ED in men over 50.
Erectile dysfunction in older men. Erections mainly involve the blood vessels. And the most common causes of ED in older men are conditions that block blood flow to the penis. These include hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis) and diabetes. Another cause may be a faulty vein that lets blood drain too quickly from the penis. Other disorders, as well as hormonal imbalances and certain operations, may also cause ED.
The symptoms of erectile dysfunction can vary from person to person. If you have ED, you might:
When you see a doctor for ED symptoms, they’ll try to find out whether you have another health condition that could cause the problem. They’ll ask about your medical history, including questions about your sex life. You might have:
The treatment for your ED will depend on what’s causing it, as well as what you and your partner think will work best. Your doctor can help you decide. Treatments include:
Medications. You take drugs like sildenafil (Viagra), vardenafil (Levitra, Staxyn), and tadalafil (Cialis, Adcirca) as pills before you have sex. They work by increasing blood flow in your penis. This helps you get an erection once you’re sexually excited.
Lifestyle changes. Your doctor might suggest that you lose weight or start an exercise routine to improve your ED symptoms. They might also recommend that you stop smoking, drinking alcohol, or using marijuana or other drugs.
Counseling. If stress, depression, or relationship problems contribute to your ED, talking to a counselor could help.
Vacuum devise. Also called a penis pump, this is a tube that fits over your penis. It includes a pump, which you use to suck air from the tube. This pulls blood into your penis to make it erect. You place an elastic ring around the bottom of your penis to keep it erect and take off the vacuum tube. After sex, you remove the ring to end the erection.
Surgery. Most men don’t get surgery for ED. But in some cases, doctors will do an operation to repair your arteries to boost blood flow to your penis. Or they can implant a bendable or inflatable rod inside your penis that you adjust to make it erect.
If you think you have ED, a good first step is to talk with your doctor. The treatment you need will depend on what’s causing it.
Your doctor may tell you to make some day-to-day adjustments. Expect to hear things like:
If a medication is causing your ED, your doctor may lower your dose or try a different drug.
Other treatments include:
At men’s clinic international we provide free counseling to all those experiencing sexual difficulties and diagnosis, medication is prescribed too after all that. If anxiety or stress is causing your ED, it may help to talk to a professional therapist.
Life-changing problems or even everyday stress can trigger erectile dysfunction. Talking about these things with a licensed therapist can ease sexual anxiety and help you feel more confident in your relationship.
Usually, you’ll only need a handful of sessions. You may want to include your partner, as well.
ED medicines can be pills, drugs inserted into the tip of the penis, or injections into the penis.
The first things doctors usually prescribe to men with erectile dysfunction are pills like:
They are taken anywhere from 15 minutes to 36 hours before having sex, depending on the drug. You shouldn’t use these more than once a day.
Staxyn dissolves in the mouth. The other medications are swallowed.
These pills work for about 80% of men who take them. But if your erection lasts more than 4 hours, seek emergency medical help. Side effects include:
You shouldn’t take these pills if you take nitrate drugs for heart disease. Doing so can cause a dangerous drop in blood pressure.
Also use caution if you’re taking alpha-blockers for prostate problems or blood pressure.
Tell your doctor about all medications you’re taking, including over-the-counter drugs, herbs, and supplements.
If the pills don’t work or aren’t safe for you to take, your doctor may prescribe a drug called alprostadil. It helps boost blood flow to the penis, triggering an erection within minutes.
It can be given in two ways:
Injection: The medication is put into the side of the penis by a needle. This raises your risk for dangerously prolonged erections and scarring.
Suppositories. Pellets are placed inside the penis. You may hear this procedure called MUSE (medicated urethral system for erections). This may be less successful than injections.
A vacuum device improves firmness by boosting blood flow to the penis. About 80% of men who use the device correctly get an erection hard enough for sex.
They’re often used for penis rehabilitation, usually after prostate surgery. Your doctor will put you on a regimen designed to restore normal blood flow to the penis. This will allow you to get a spontaneous erection.
It may take several months to see results.
Vacuum erection devices, also called vacuum constriction devices, are made of three parts:
A vacuum device can be cumbersome. It also will hinder spontaneity. The elastic ring may lead to skin irritation, bruising, loss of feeling or sensitivity, or pain.
Vacuum devices are available with or without a prescription. Talk to your doctor before getting one.
If all other ED treatments have failed, your doctor may recommend surgery.
The operations are: