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Erectile Dysfunction Treatment​

Erectile Dysfunction Treatment

Erectile dysfunction, more commonly referred to as ED, is a common health condition that impacts men’s ability to achieve or maintain erections suitable for sexual intercourse. Research estimates that 1 in 10 men experience chronic erectile dysfunction severe enough to seek treatment while 52% of men experience at least one instance of erectile dysfunction in their lives. Men who only rarely experience erectile dysfunction, less than 20% of the time, which can be linked to heightened stress, instability in a relationship, or other temporary difficulties should not be concerned and generally do not need to seek treatment. For men who frequently have difficulty getting an erection during sexual interactions, or for those who are able to get an erection but cannot maintain it at least 50% of the time, treatment options are available at erectile dysfunction treatment centers. Chronic erectile dysfunction can cause severe mental and emotional distress to men if left untreated. If you are struggling with ED symptoms, don’t wait any longer to seek help for your condition: you need an erectile dysfunction doctor. Non-invasive treatment options are available that can restore your ability to get and maintain erections in as little as six weeks.

What Causes Erectile Dysfunction?

There are several underlying conditions, medications, and psychological causes for erectile dysfunction. Although erectile dysfunction tends to be more common in men over the age of 40 than it is in younger men, there is no direct correlation between aging and erectile dysfunction. Many men believe that low testosterone is the primary contributing factor to ED, but that is almost never the case. While hypogonadism can indirectly contribute to erectile dysfunction, in most cases there is usually a more severe health condition at the root of ED.

Physical Causes

Physical causes are the most common reason behind erectile dysfunction. The most common physical causes of ED include:

  • Lack of blood flow to the penis
    Several things can reduce blood flow to the penis including high blood pressure, narrow arteries, high cholesterol leading to clogged arteries, diabetes, and smoking. When blood flow is restricted, the penis cannot get enough blood to achieve an erection.
  • The penis cannot retain blood
    Sometimes although blood flow is adequate, the penis has difficulty trapping the required amount of blood long enough to maintain an erection for sexual intercourse.
  • Damage to the nerves in the penis
    Disease, inflammation, viral or bacterial infections, or severe physical injury can damage the nerves in the penis to the point that erections become difficult or impossible to achieve or maintain.
  • Surgery, radiation, or chemotherapy in the pelvic region
    Prostate cancer, colorectal cancer, or bladder cancer treatments can all cause long-term damage to the penis and a man’s ability to achieve erections.
  • Cardiovascular disease
    Diseases such as high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, low HDL, and high cholesterol can all directly impact a man’s ability to achieve an erection.
  • Other chronic diseases
    Type 2 diabetes, renal failure, prostate problems, hypogonadism, multiple sclerosis, and more can affect erections.
  • Chronic sleep disorders
    Obstructive sleep apnea and insomnia can affect every part of your body, including your sexual organs.
  • Peyronie’s disease
    Defined as a distortion or curvature of the penis, Peyronie’s disease can cause scar tissue to form under the skin of the penis forcing it to bend abnormally. This can cause severe pain when an erection occurs and can make sexual intercourse extremely difficult.
  • Drug or alcohol abuse
    Using illegal substances, abusing prescription opioids, or consuming too much alcohol on a regular basis can all affect sexual health.

Additionally, obesity is a significant factor in erectile dysfunction, as 79% of men presenting with symptoms of ED have a BMI over 25. Men with a BMI over 30 are three times as likely to experience erectile dysfunction as men who maintain a healthy weight.

Emotional Causes

Doctors used to believe that the primary causes of erectile dysfunction were psychological or emotional in nature, but recent research has shown that this is not the case. While some occurrences of erectile dysfunction are psychological in nature, in most cases, underlying physical conditions are much more common.

That said, some of the emotional and psychological causes of erectile dysfunction include:

  • Stress
    Chronic stress from work, familial, religious, or relationship obligations.
  • Depression
    Untreated depression can affect self-image, enjoyment of life, and relationships with others.
  • Anxiety
    Untreated anxiety can cause a man to constantly worry about things out of their control which can impact sexual performance.
  • Performance anxiety
    Bad experiences with sexual encounters can cause performance anxiety which can hinder a man’s ability to get or maintain an erection.
  • Lack of knowledge
    Men who are unfamiliar with sexual experiences may experience erectile dysfunction from anxiety.
  • Guilt
    Being shamed by your partner for sexual preferences can cause feelings of guilt or shame which can affect performance.
  • Low self-esteem
    Being unhappy with your body, the way that you look, or about your past sexual encounters can cause difficulty with achieving and maintaining erections.
In many cases, psychological and emotional causes of sexual dysfunction can be treated by a mental health professional (usually a therapist or psychologist), particularly one that specializes in relationships and sex. It can be beneficial to ask your partner to attend counseling sessions with you as well to help them understand your condition so that they can be more supportive. Your mental health professional will discuss mental illness, mental health conditions, treatment approaches for any mental health condition, relationship problems, sexual history, personal life, psychological problems, sexual desire, sexual activity, how general health concerns affect mental health, and more.

Medication-Related Causes

Finally, several medications have listed side effects that can cause temporary erectile dysfunction in the men who take them. These medications include:
  • Blood pressure medications
  • Medications for prostate cancer (antiandrogens)
  • Prescription sedatives and tranquilizers
  • Appetite suppressants and diet pills
  • Ulcer medications
  • Diuretics
  • Medications for Parkinson’s disease
  • Antidepressants
  • Muscle relaxors
  • Anti-seizure medications
  • Certain anti-inflammatory medications
  • Medication for irregular heartbeats (antiarrhythmics)
Unfortunately, many of these medications are for chronic conditions (often prescribed by your primary care doctor or specialists). It can be difficult to switch to another medication, but it is worth discussing with your erectile dysfunction doctor and your primary care physician, who will each review your medical history. Luckily, there are plenty of treatment options for erectile dysfunction focused on increasing blood flow that will not interfere with these medications as long as you are otherwise healthy enough to enjoy sex.
Treatment Options for Erectile Dysfunction​

Types of Treatment Options

There are a wide variety of treatment options available to men who have erectile dysfunction (ED), including prescription medication, penile injections, vascular reconstructive surgery, reducing fatigue, use of a vacuum erection device, and other treatments. These treatments may vary depending on if you have any underlying conditions that could be affected by medication. Your doctor will work with you directly to determine the best treatment plan for your situation and symptoms. Typically, erectile dysfunction treatment begins by getting your cardiovascular health under control. They may recommend some lifestyle changes first, such as changing your diet (a healthy diet is essential), lowering blood sugar, exercising more, quitting smoking or drinking, overall health, or switching your current medications. If your doctor believes that your erectile dysfunction and sexual problems may be the result of an emotional or psychological condition, they may recommend counseling or therapy. Once these considerations have been addressed, your doctor will then move on to non-invasive treatment options, typically beginning with oral medications, as long as they won’t interfere with any other medications that you may be taking. If you develop and maintain an erection lasting longer than 4 hours with any of these medications or treatment methods, immediately seek medical attention at your nearest emergency room. If left untreated, prolonged erections can lead to priapism which can cause permanent damage to the penis.

Oral Medications

Oral medications for erectile dysfunction are the most common and traditionally successful treatment option for men with ED. Known as PDE type-5 drugs, these medications help increase blood flow to the penis in order to achieve and maintain an erection long enough for sexual intercourse. 80% of men who take PDE type-5 medications have positive results when these pills are taken 15 minutes to 36 hours, depending on the medication, prior to intercourse. These medications do not automatically cause erections by themselves. Instead, they help stimulate the nerves in the penis that are responsible for causing an erection. Sexual stimulation is needed to help stimulate the nitric oxide chemical that helps control penile function. The four PDE type-5 medicines that are used in treating erectile dysfunction are:
  • Sildenafil (Viagra)
  • Tadalafil (Adcirca, Cialis)
It is essential that you tell your doctor if you are taking any other medications for chronic health conditions, particularly nitrate drugs, alpha-blockers, or medications for hypotension or hypertension. This combination of medications can cause severe and potentially life-threatening side effects. For men that are not taking any of the above medications, PDE type-5 medications are generally safe. You may experience some mild side effects including facial flushing, headaches, indigestion, muscle aches, and a stuffy nose. These reactions are typically mild and only last for a short time.

Testosterone Replacement Therapy

For some men with severe hypogonadism, a condition that causes abnormally low levels of testosterone by hindering testosterone production, testosterone replacement therapy may be helpful in reducing the symptoms that can cause erectile dysfunction. In most cases, however, hypogonadism alone is not enough to cause erectile dysfunction. You should speak with your doctor about other possible underlying conditions before beginning testosterone replacement therapy.

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Benefits of the Treating Erectile Dysfunction

Although erectile dysfunction is not a life-threatening condition, it can be an extremely difficult condition to live with. It impacts a man’s emotional, physical, and mental well-being to the point that many men suffer in silence due to feelings of societal shame or guilt. Erectile dysfunction is extremely common, particularly as men age, and it is nothing to be ashamed of or discouraged by. Treatments are available that can help you achieve the following benefits:
  • Easier and longer-lasting erections
  • Having a healthier, happier, and better relationship with your significant other
  • Greater confidence in yourself and your self-image
  • Reduced risk of depression and anxiety
  • Experiencing more enjoyment during sexual intercourse
For most men, treatment can be achieved in a single visit by being prescribed oral medications that will allow them to achieve erections when it is most desirable for them. Additionally, by speaking to your doctor about your erectile dysfunction, they can work with you to treat the underlying cause of your condition. By treating the underlying condition, most men can regain their ability to achieve and maintain erections within 3 to 6 months of beginning treatment without having to continue to rely on erectile dysfunction medications. If you are experiencing erectile dysfunction and it is impacting your social life and sexual health, then now is the time to reach out for help. Don’t wait any longer to regain your virility, sense of self, and happiness.
Benefits of Treating ED

Frequently Asked Questions

Although erectile dysfunction is not frequently discussed in public or in social situations, it is more common than most people think. It is estimated that 52% of men experience erectile dysfunction at some point in their lives.

Erectile dysfunction is more common in men aged 40-75, but it is still possible in younger men. While doctors used to believe that erectile dysfunction was largely a psychological condition, current research suggests that in the majority of cases erectile dysfunction is caused by physical health problems.

Most commonly, it is due to a lack of proper blood supply to the penis. In some cases, this can also serve as an early warning of an underlying cardiovascular disease such as a hardening or narrowing of the arteries, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or heart disease.

It is important to note that although erectile dysfunction is extremely common, it is not a normal part of aging. Aging is linked with declining testosterone levels, but this normal aging process does not directly affect a man’s ability to get an erection.

First, your doctor will determine if you have any underlying medical conditions, such as diabetes, an injury, cardiovascular disease, etc. that could be causing your erectile dysfunction. In most cases of erectile dysfunction, there will be a health condition that is contributing to your symptoms that should be treated first.

Your doctor will take a full medical history to determine when the symptoms first started, and then they will perform a physical exam to see if there is a lack of sensation or any visible damage to your sex organs. For most patients, a medical history and physical exam are all that are required to get an erectile dysfunction diagnosis. 

From here, if no cause has been determined, your doctor may take a blood or urine sample or may perform an ultrasound to check for internal damage or issues with blood flow.

When you arrive for your appointment, be prepared to answer a series of questions regarding your condition and symptoms to help the doctor properly diagnose you. Some of the questions that you can expect to answer include:

  • Do you have any chronic health conditions?
  • When did your symptoms begin?
  • Have you had changes in sexual desire?
  • Are you having emotional problems in your relationship?
  • Do you get erections when masturbating, in your sleep, or with a partner?
  • Have you been diagnosed with a mental health condition?
  • Are you depressed, anxious, or abnormally stressed?
  • How often do your symptoms of erectile dysfunction occur?
  • Do you drink alcohol or take illicit drugs? How often?
  • Are you currently taking any medications or herbal supplements?
  • Do you smoke?
  • Have you had surgery, radiation, or chemotherapy in your pelvic region?
  • Have you had any significant injury to your pelvic region?
  • Do you have difficulty ejaculating or reaching climax?
  • Are your erections painful?
  • What are the frequency, quality, and duration of your erections like?

While some of these questions may be awkward or uncomfortable to answer, they are necessary to properly diagnose your condition. Your doctor will never judge you or make you feel uncomfortable, and you should feel secure in answering any questions they ask to the best of your ability.

Don’t Wait to Get Relief From Your Erectile Dysfunction

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