Erectile dysfunction (ED), also known as impotence, is a common condition that affects as many as 30 million men in the United States alone. The condition prevents the ability to achieve or maintain an erection firm enough for sex. The good news is that there is a range of tried-and-true solutions to treat ED.
Having difficulty getting or keeping an erection isn’t always a cause for concern, but if it is becoming a more frequent issue, it should be investigated by a doctor, as ED can be a sign of a more serious underlying health condition that may require treatment. Erectile dysfunction, if left untreated, can also lead to other problems, such as low self-esteem and depression, and may contribute to relationship problems.
What Can Cause Erectile Dysfunction?
- Physical problems that cause poor blood flow to the penis (commonly associated with health conditions such as heart disease, hypertension, high cholesterol, or diabetes)
- Hormonal problems, such as low testosterone
- Peyronie’s disease, which produces scar tissue inside the penis
- Surgery or injury affecting the pelvic region or spinal cord
- Psychological issues, such as anxiety, depression, stress, and relationship problems
- A side effect of using certain medicines
- Diseases such as Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis
- Some treatments for prostate conditions
Other factors, such as smoking and using alcohol or illicit drugs, can also play a role in the development of ED.
If you have ED, you should see a urologist to ensure you get the correct diagnosis for your condition before considering any type of treatment.
Successful Treatments for ED
The most effective way to treat ED will depend on the underlying cause of the condition. To help establish the cause of ED, your urologist will carry out a thorough evaluation. This may include a physical exam, a review of your medical history, and answering questions about your health and lifestyle. Further tests may be recommended to diagnose and rule out any underlying health issues.
If ED is related to a medical condition such as hypertension or low testosterone, treatment for the underlying condition can often be enough to reverse ED. Lifestyle changes such as losing weight, reducing stress, stopping smoking, and getting regular exercise, can also be effective ways to help restore erectile function.
1. Oral medication
Oral medications, such as Viagra®, Levitra®, Stendra®, and Cialis®, work by temporarily enhancing the effects of nitric oxide (a chemical found naturally in the body) to relax the muscles in the penis, allowing more blood to flow into it when sexually aroused. The medication does not automatically produce an erection. Sexual stimulation is needed first to trigger the release of nitric oxide from the penile nerves.
2. Penile self-injections
Penile injections are medications that are injected into the penis to temporarily create an erection. A fine needle is used to self-inject a medication called alprostadil into the base or side of the penis. The injection is dosed to produce an erection that lasts no longer than an hour.
3. External vacuum erection devices (penis pump)
A vacuum erection device is a hollow tube that fits over the penis, with a hand-powered or battery-powered pump to draw out the air inside the tube. The device works by creating a vacuum that pulls blood into the penis, creating an erection. A tension ring is then placed around the base of the penis to keep it firm during sex.
4. Inflatable penile prosthesis (surgical implant)
Treatment involves surgically placing an inflatable device into each side of the penis. The device is totally concealed under the skin and restores normal function and anatomy, so the penis looks and feels natural. The device allows the ability to get an erection spontaneously and preserves sensation and the ability to have an orgasm. The treatment has a high degree of satisfaction, with over 90% of men reporting satisfactory sexual activity following the procedure.
5. Penile vibratory stimulation
Penile vibratory stimulation is an effective treatment if ED is related to a spinal cord injury, a condition such as diabetes, as well as some other causes. Treatment involves placing a specially designed mechanical vibrator at the base of the glans penis (the rounded end of the penis)and is set to a particular frequency and amplitude. The vibration helps to activate sexual centers in the brain and the spinal cord, which trigger the nerve reflexes responsible for causing an erection. The device can also help to stimulate the ejaculatory reflex.
6. Psychological help
If you are finding that erectile dysfunction only occurs in certain situations, such as only when with a sexual partner, but not during masturbation, it is likely the underlying cause of erectile dysfunction is a psychological, rather than a physical, issue. In this situation, psychological counseling may be an option to help resolve feelings of stress, depression, or anxiety that are interfering with arousal and achieving an erection. Counseling can also be beneficial if ED is creating stress in your relationship with your partner.
Erectile Dysfunction Treatment in Phoenix, AZ
If you are experiencing erectile dysfunction, contact Ironwood Urology for expert care. We provide high-quality, confidential, patient-focused men’s health care and treat all our patients with the respect and dignity they deserve.