Erectile dysfunction is the most common form of sexual dysfunction that men report to their doctor.
It’s estimated that erectile dysfunction affects more than 30 million men.
A man with erectile dysfunction will find it difficult to attain or keep a firm enough erection to have intercourse.
This can interfere with sexual desire and sexual stimulation and adversely affect their quality of life.
It’s not rare for men to experience sexual dysfunction and an inability to keep their erection firm from time to time, but when it becomes progressive or happens routinely during sex, it is not normal and needs to be treated.
Problems getting or maintaining an erection can also signify an underlying health condition that needs to be treated or a risk factor for heart disease.
If you’re concerned about your sexual dysfunction, talk to an ED specialist — even if you’re embarrassed. Sometimes, treating an underlying condition is enough to reverse erectile dysfunction. In other cases, medications or other natural treatments might be needed.
In the article below, we will discuss several treatments for erectile dysfunction.
When Should You Seek ED Treatment
A men’s health clinic is an excellent place to start if you’re having issues with your sexual performance.
You know it’s time to seek help if:
- You have growing concerns about achieving normal erections or other sexual problems like delayed or premature ejaculation.
- You have another medical condition like diabetes, heart disease, or other known health conditions linked to erectile dysfunction.
- You are experiencing other symptoms along with erectile dysfunction.
What Are Some Causes Of Erectile Dysfunction
As you age, your erections might take longer to develop, and they might not be as firm.
Risk factors that contribute to erectile dysfunction are:
- Pre-existing medical conditions like diabetes, cardiovascular disease, or a low testosterone level.
- Tobacco use restricts blood flow to veins and arteries and can cause chronic health conditions that eventually lead to erectile dysfunction.
- Medical treatments like prostate surgery or radiation treatment for cancer
- Injuries that damage the nerves or arteries that control erections
- Medications like antidepressants, antihistamines, and medications to treat high blood pressure, pain, or prostate conditions
- Stress, anxiety, performance anxiety, depression, and other psychological conditions
- Long-term drug and alcohol use
Diagnosing Erectile Dysfunction
For most people, a physical exam and a review of their medical history are all that’s needed to diagnose erectile dysfunction and recommend treatments.
If you have chronic health conditions or any of the risk factors we talked about above, you might need further testing or a consultation with a specialist.
Tests for any underlying conditions could include:
- Physical Exams: Your physical exam will include a careful examination of your penis and testicles. The medical professional will also check your nerves for sensation.
- Blood Tests: Your doctor may order a blood test to check for signs of heart disease, diabetes, low testosterone levels, and other health conditions.
- Urinalysis: Similar to blood tests, urine tests are used to look for signs of diabetes and other underlying health conditions.
- Ultrasound: Ultrasounds are performed by a specialist in an office. To perform an ultrasound, the specialist will use a wand-like device held over the blood vessels that supply blood to your penis. It will create a video image to see if you have blood flow problems. Ultrasounds are sometimes combined with an injection of medications into the penis to stimulate blood flow and produce an erection.
- Psychological Exam: You may be asked questions to screen for depression, anxiety, and other possible psychological causes of erectile dysfunction.
Treatment For Erectile Dysfunction
One treatment of erectile dysfunction is taking a group of prescription drugs called PDE-5 (phosphodiesterase-5) inhibitors.
You should take this prescription medication 30-60 minutes before sex.
The most well-known version of this oral medication is Viagra.
Other options are:
PDE-5 inhibitors are only available with a prescription.
The medical professional will check for heart conditions and ask about other medications a person is taking before starting drug therapy.
Some side-effects associated with these PDE-5 inhibitors are:
- visual abnormalities
- hearing loss
Penis Pumps, Implants, and Surgery
If the drug treatments aren’t effective or appropriate, you will be recommended for different treatments.
Other treatments she may recommend are:
Penis Pumps or vacuum devices are hollow tubes with a hand-powered or battery-powered pump.
You place the tube over your penis, and the pump is used to suck out the air inside the tube, creating a vacuum that pulls blood into your penis.
Once an erection is achieved, you will slip a tension ring around the base of your penis to hold in the blood and keep it firm.
Erections from vacuum devices typically last long enough for a couple to have sex.
Vacuum devices have been reported to cause bruising to the penis, and the band can restrict ejaculation.
A penile implant places a device into both sides of the penis.
These implants consist of either inflatable or malleable rods.
Inflatable implants allow you to control when and how long you have an erection.
Malleable rods keep your penis firm but bendable.
Penile implants are typically a last resort and aren’t recommended until other methods have been tried.
Penile implants have a high degree of satisfaction among those who have tried and failed other conservative therapies like vacuum erection devices.
Some risks come with penile implants, like other surgeries, such as infection.
Penile implant surgery is not recommended if you have a urinary tract infection.
There are several surgical treatments available for erectile dysfunction patients, including penile implants.
In very rare cases, patients may undergo vascular surgery to treat ED if they have vascular disease.
Again, surgery will only be recommended after all other treatment avenues.
Natural Treatments For Erectile Dysfunction
Eating a healthy, balanced diet is key for sexual health and decreases your risk of ED.
Observational studies have found that men who followed a Mediterranean diet had a lower chance of developing ED.
In particular, they consumed less red or processed meat and primarily ate:
Similar studies have found that eating more fruits and vegetables lowered the risk of ED in men ages 18 to 40.
These foods are also important for your overall health. So adding them to your diet to maintain or improve your sexual function as well is an all-around victory.
Along with a healthy diet, regular exercise has been shown to lower the prevalence of erectile dysfunction.
Many doctors believe that exercise is the ED treatment that can have the greatest impact.
Exercise for erectile dysfunction works on several fronts to combat the development of ED and help reverse it if it has become a problem.
Exercise improves blood flow, which is vitally important to a strong erection.
It also improves blood pressure by increasing nitric oxide in blood vessels, exactly how Viagra works.
Weight-bearing exercise can increase your natural production of testosterone, which is a significant factor in erectile strength and sex drive.
One thing almost everyone neglects these days is sleep.
It’s important for your overall health and well-being to get enough sleep each night.
Adequate sleep regularly may also improve your ED.
A study done in 2017 found that men working thrid shifts that reported poor sleep were at a higher risk for ED.
Another study from 2015 found that people with sleeping disorders had a greater risk of developing ED.
Other research has linked sleep apnea to an increased chance of ED.
A lack of sleep can lower testosterone levels, which can also contribute to ED.
A sustained lack of sleep is also associated with conditions related to ED, like diabetes, high blood sugar, and high blood pressure.
Weight is one of the major factors for erectile dysfunction.
ED is significantly more common in men who are overweight, are obese, or had larger waist circumferences.
Gastric bypass surgery improves blood vessel health and ED among extremely obese men.
Similar studies have found an improvement in ED after bariatric (weight loss) surgery.
How To Prevent ED
The best way to prevent ED and sexual dysfunction is to make healthy lifestyle choices and manage your existing health conditions.
You should work closely with your doctor to manage diabetes, heart disease, or other chronic health conditions.
You should also visit your doctor for regular checkups and medical screening tests.
Don’t smoke, limit your alcohol, and don’t use illegal drugs.
Take steps to reduce your stress, and if necessary, get help for anxiety, depression, or other mental health concerns.
Choice Men’s Health Can Help With Your Erectile Dysfunction
Natural treatments for erectile dysfunction help many men with their issues, but if they haven’t helped you, it’s time to see our ED specialists.
Our staff can help with customized ED treatment plans it can be treated so you can lead a happier, healthier life.
If you have questions about erectile dysfunction, Choice Men’s Health in Atlanta, Georgia, has been helping men enjoy a healthy sex life for years.