How is erectile dysfunction treated?
Fortunately, there are many successful treatments available for erectile dysfunction (ED). Some of these include:
Medications such as Sildenafil citrate (Viagra), Vardenafil (Levitra), and Tadalafil (Cialis) help improve blood flow to the penis, and, combined with sexual stimulation, produce an erection. These medications are generally safe, although they cannot be used by men who take nitrates for heart problems.
Vacuum Erection Devices
Vacuum erection devices are specifically designed to help create an erection. The device is fitted over the penis, and a simple hand pump reduces the pressure in the air around the penis, helping to draw blood into the spongy tissue. A rubber ring is then placed at the base of the penis to maintain the erection (this should be removed within 30 minutes). Vacuum erection devices have no serious side effects, and for some men are all that is required.
The patient injects a special medication (or combination of medications) directly into the base of the penis, using a tiny thin needle. The needle is similar to the ones that diabetics use daily for injecting insulin. The medications that are injected work on the blood vessels in the penis, opening up the arteries and closing the veins. The erection produced with injection therapy is generally a good quality erection that can last for an hour or more. Injection therapy is often successful even if the nerves have been injured during radiation therapy or surgery.
This method uses the same type of medication that is used in the injection technique. The medicine, alprostadil, is available in the form of a tiny pellet that is inserted in the urinary opening. As the medication dissolves, it works on the blood vessels in the penis to cause an erection.
There are two types of surgical implants: one produces a permanent bendable erection, while the other type is inflatable. This surgery is irreversible; therefore, this treatment option is rarely considered.
Counselling and Therapy
ED can impact a man and his partner emotionally and psychologically. Counselling can help reduce the stress and anxiety associated with ED. Combined with other treatments, counselling can reduce the time it takes to regain sexual function.