Erectile dysfunction is a common condition that affects over 30 million men a year in the United States. It’s no surprise that one of the most frequently asked questions doctors receive from their male patients is, “What’s the best treatment for erectile dysfunction?”
However, just because it’s common doesn’t mean it’s a natural part of life. Erectile dysfunction can make life difficult for men, both in and out of the bedroom, leading to a lack of intimacy with partners. Fortunately, there are plenty of ED treatment options for men that fit a variety of lifestyles.
What Is Erectile Dysfunction?
Erectile dysfunction is the consistent inability to achieve and maintain an erection firm enough for satisfactory sex. Also referred to as ED or impotence, several underlying causes could be linked to erectile dysfunction.
Many men feel awkward when they have difficulties performing in the bedroom and may not wish to seek help out of embarrassment or even shame.
The good news is that erectile dysfunction is highly common and very treatable. Your doctor can help you determine what the cause (or causes, it’s often a result of a combination of factors) is and what your best treatment options are.
Treatment Options for Erectile Dysfunction
Erectile dysfunction does not always have one cause, as arousal is a highly complex process. It’s usually linked to a variety of psychological and physical factors. For example, it could be the side effect of a medication you’re taking. Or, it could be the result of depression, anxiety, or suffering a traumatic life event.
There’s a difference between occasional difficulties achieving an erection and persistent troubles getting or keeping an erection. If you’re constantly suffering from ED, it’s vital that you speak with your doctor. They can help you determine the causes of your erectile dysfunction and put together a personalized treatment plan that is best for you and your health.
1. Oral Medications
Oral medications for erectile dysfunction, such as Viagra or Cialis, are typically what people think of first when they think of ED treatment options. These have been made especially popular by commercials featuring attractive, aging couples seeking to bring romance back into their lives with the help of a pill.
While oral medications are an effective first-line treatment for ED, they’re not for everyone. If you suffer from severe heart disease, heart failure, low blood pressure, kidney disease, or if you take nitrate drugs to treat chest pain, oral ED medications can be unsafe.
2. Injection Therapy for ED
Penile injection therapy for erectile dysfunction is another option for men seeking treatment beyond oral medication. Injection therapy requires the man to directly inject medicine into the corpora cavernosa (penile chambers) via a small needle. The injection relaxes the blood vessels and increases blood flow to the penis.
Advantages of Injection Therapy for ED
- Erections typically occur within 5 to 20 minutes following the injection
- It does not require surgery
- Injection therapy users report feeling more natural erections
- Injections can be used anytime
Possible Risks of Injection Therapy
- Possibility of bleeding and scarring at injection point
- Risk of a prolonged erection
- Some men report feeling a lack of spontaneity
- Expensive as a long-term treatment option
3. Vacuum Erection Device (VED)
A vacuum erection device (often referred to as a penile pump, vacuum pump, or penis pump) is a plastic tube that fits over the penis connected to a pump and a band that fits around the base of the penis.
Once the pump is activated, either by hand or battery power, it creates a vacuum inside the tube and pulls blood into the penis. Once an erection has been achieved, the rubber constriction ring goes around the base of the penis, which helps maintain the erection by keeping blood inside the penis. After removing the vacuum device, the erection typically lasts long enough to have sex.
Vacuum erection devices can also treat penile curvature, or Peyronie’s disease.
Side Effects and Risks of Vacuum Erection Devices
VEDs come with some potential side effects, such as:
- Pain or bruising
- Numbness or coldness
- The feeling of trapped semen
You should never leave the constriction ring in place for more than half an hour. A major risk of doing so is cutting off blood flow for too long, resulting in injury to your penis. While a vacuum erection device does not necessarily address the underlying cause of ED, it can help men achieve and maintain firm enough erections for intercourse.
How to Know if a Penis Pump Is Right for You
To determine whether a VED is the right treatment option for your ED, your doctor will want to discuss the following with you:
- Any injuries or surgeries, particularly those involving your penis, prostate, and testicles
- If you’re on any medications
- What ED treatments you have tried or are currently trying and their efficacy
- Past or current illnesses
It is always best to consult with your doctor before using a VED.
4. Penile Implant Surgery
In cases of chronic erectile dysfunction that hasn’t responded to other ED treatment options, your doctor may recommend a penile implant surgery. While surgery may sound extreme, in reality, a penile implant is a minor procedure that has proven to be a safe and effective option for men to resume healthy intercourse. The surgery itself takes 30 to 45 minutes.
What Is a Penile Implant and How Does It Work?
A penile implant is a prosthetic device inserted into the penis that allows the manual facilitation of an erection. Once it’s installed, the man has control over their penis to achieve and maintain an erection, effectively restoring the penis as a sex organ.
There are two types of penile implants:
- Inflatable implants: Inflatable implants are the most commonly used implants. With the use of a fluid-filled reservoir, it expands or contracts silicone cylinders in the penis to mimic the flow of blood needed to achieve an erection.
- Semi-rigid implants: A semi-rigid implant utilizes a rod that is always firm, which results in a penis that is never fully flaccid. If the user isn’t seeking an erection, they can position their penis against their body to conceal it.
5. Lifestyle and Behavioral Changes
As we’ve mentioned, there are often a number of factors that can contribute to erectile dysfunction. It’s not uncommon for doctors to put together holistic treatment plans that not only include the use of medication, a VED, or injection therapy in combination with recommended lifestyle changes.
Lifestyle changes such as an improved diet, weight management, reduced alcohol consumption, and increased physical activity have been linked to improved erectile function.
Additionally, if your doctor believes depression or anxiety may be contributing to your ED, they may recommend therapy to improve your mental health.
What Is the Best Treatment Option for Erectile Dysfunction?
The best treatment option for erectile dysfunction differs from man to man. The only way to find out what works for you is by consulting your urologist. Advanced Urology offers the latest in ED treatment, and we pride ourselves on our world-class urologists and proven track record for success.
Erectile dysfunction doesn’t have to disrupt your love life. It’s critical that men know there are many options to treat ED and restore intimacy in their lives. However, rather than taking advice from friends or commercials, request an appointment with an expert who can offer tailored advice and treatment options that fit your lifestyle.