1. Lifestyle changes
Making lifestyle changes can reduce the severity or improve erectile dysfunction. Some of the changes are:
a. Quitting smoking
b. Stopping or reducing alcohol consumption
c. Increasing physical activity or exercise
d. Cutting down body weight
e. Stopping the use of illegal drugs
2. Seeing a counselor
Your urologist may recommend that you see a counselor if your erectile dysfunction is worsened by psychological or emotional issues. In many cases, counselors require that you go with your partner to the counseling sessions so she can know how best to support you. And as you work on the anxiety and stress issues with your counselor, your urologist will be focused on treating any underlying physical issues. Usually only a handful of sessions with the counselor will be enough for you to overcome ED.
The first treatment that your urologist will offer to treat ED is oral pills. Common oral medications for ED include:
a. Sildenafil (Viagra)
b. Tadalafil (Cialis)
c. Vardenafil (Levitra or Staxyn)
d. Avanafil (Stendra).
These medicines work by relaxing your smooth muscles and increasing blood supply to the penis following sexual stimulation. You’ll be required to take them anywhere from 15 minutes to 36 hours before sex, depending on the particular drug your doctor has prescribed. Vardenafil (Staxyn) dissolves in the mouth, but the other pills are swallowed. However, you aren’t allowed to take any of these drugs more than once per day. The drugs are effective in about 80 percent of men who use them, although if you have an erection that lasts beyond 4 hours, you should seek emergency medical help.
You should not take these medicines as treatment for ED if you are already taking nitrates for a heart disorder. Since nitrates also relax and widen blood vessels, their combination with these drugs leads to a sudden reduction of your blood pressure, which may cause falling, fainting or dizziness and possible injuries. Likewise, if you are already taking drugs to treat enlarged prostate (BPH), inform your doctor about them. A combination of BPH medications called alpha-blockers with ED medicines also may result in sudden reduction of your blood pressure.
In case your erectile dysfunction is due to low testosterone levels, the urologist may prescribe testosterone. However, testosterone therapy won’t work for you if you have nerve or circulatory problems. So you must be very open with your urologist about your other medical problems before you are given any medications.
4. Penile injections
Injecting the penis with a drug called alprostadil can trigger a stronger and firmer erection. While oral medications are able to cause an erection after sexual stimulation, you can’t get an automatic erection with them. That’s why your doctor may at times opt for injecting a drug into the penis to ensure you achieve erection automatically even without sexual stimulation.
5. Vacuum constriction devices (pumps)
Vacuum pumps pull blood into the penis, resulting in an erection. A typical vacuum device is an external pump supplied with a band that you can use to achieve and maintain an erection. According to several studies, up to 50-80 percent of men who have used vacuum erection devices are pleased with the results.
A vacuum device has three components:
a. A plastic tube (cylinder), which you place toward the end of your penis.
b. A pump, which drives out air from the tube in order to create a vacuum.
c. An elastic ring (band), which you place on the cylinder, on the other end applied to your body, and then move it from the tube to the penis in order to maintain erection.
To use the vacuum erection device, you place the pump over your penis and pump out air from the tube (cylinder) to create a vacuum. The vacuum then pulls blood into the penis’ shaft and makes the penis longer and firmer. Once the penis is erect, and with the help of a lubricant, you slide the retaining band downward onto the lower end of your penis. You also remove the pump once you have released the vacuum.
The elastic ring sustains the erection by stopping blood from moving back into the body during intercourse. So you can only attempt intercourse with the elastic ring in place. And the ring can be left in place for about 30 minutes to enable successful intercourse.
6. Penile prosthesis (Penile implant surgery)
Another option for treating ED is penile prosthesis in which your urologist performs an operation to implant either a malleable (bendable) device or inflatable device into your penis. A penile implant surgery is preferred when you have an obvious medical condition that is causing the ED and the urologist is sure that your condition won’t resolve naturally or with medications.
Usually, the simplest form of penile prosthesis is surgical implantation of malleable rods inside the erection chambers of your penis. Once implanted, the rods ensure that your penis is maintained in semi-rigid state and just requires lifting or adjusting to erect position for sexual intercourse. Malleable rods are a good option if you’ve had spinal injury or have limited hand strength.
Alternatively, your doctor may go for a hydraulic, inflatable implant. With this prosthesis, you can choose to get an erection when you need to. Inflatable implants increase the size of the penis through a pump that’s located in the scrotum. The advantage of an inflatable implant over malleable rods is that the erection is more natural and easier to conceal than one achieved with malleable rods.
Penile implant surgery takes about one hour to complete and is usually performed in an outpatient setting. Following penile implant surgery, you’ll be able to leave the hospital the same day after surgery and can resume sexual intercourse 4-6 weeks after the procedure.
7. Artery reconstruction (Vascular reconstructive surgery)
Artery reconstruction is often a last resort treatment for ED because the procedure is costly, technically difficult and does not usually work. But the aim of the procedure, when recommended, is to boost blood flow in your penis and help you achieve an erection. During the operation, the urologist transfers an artery in another part of your body (usually from a muscle in the belly) to one in your penis, creating a path for blood to move around the blocked (affected) area. The procedure is only rarely considered, but may be an option for men younger than 30 who have ED because of injuries to their penis or the area around it.
Want to find out more about erectile dysfunction? Visit the “Advanced Urology Institute” site.