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Guide to Erectile Dysfunction Treatment & Drugs

Are you experiencing erectile issues? Whether you’re aged 25 or 60-plus, you’re certainly not the only one. According to data from the Massachusetts Male Ageing Study, erectile dysfunction, or ED for short, is a condition that plagues around 20 to 30 million American men today. It’s most common in men who are 50-plus years of age.

Fortunately, there’s a wide array of erectile dysfunction medications and treatments available today to effectively manage the condition, and help in developing and maintaining an erection without any issues.

This blog post will serve as a comprehensive guide to dealing with erectile dysfunction, and will list the treatments and erectile dysfunction drugs that have been found to be effective against the condition.

What Will You Learn? 

erectile dysfunction

What Is Erectile Dysfunction?

While experiencing occasional difficulty in developing and maintaining an erection is considered to be normal, it becomes an issue if you’re having erection problems regularly – to the extent that you’re purposely avoiding being intimate with your partner.

There are varying degrees to the severity of ED. While some men suffering from ED can achieve an erection occasionally, others are unable to get erect at all. Another form of ED is being able to achieve an erection without any problems, but not being able to sustain it for the period required to satisfy sexual intercourse.

A common misconception surrounding erectile dysfunction is that it’s an inevitable outcome of aging. It most certainly is not. The vast majority of men who have ED are still able to achieve orgasms and father a child. However, they often find it difficult to do these things because they’re unable to develop or maintain an erection.

couple-in-the-bed

The Causes of Erectile Dysfunction

A wide variety of various factors affecting your nervous, endocrine and vascular systems can cause or contribute to erectile dysfunction. While ED is more prevalent in older men, aging itself doesn’t cause the condition.

Conditions & Diseases

Certain conditions and diseases can lead to erectile dysfunction. These include:

  • Atherosclerosis
  • Hypertension
  • Peyronie’s disease
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Emotional or Psychological Issues

Emotional or Psychological Issues

Although rare, emotional or psychological issues have also been identified as causes of erectile dysfunction. You can develop erectile dysfunction if you suffer from one or more of the following conditions:

  • Depression
  • Stress
  • Anxiety
  • Low self-esteem

Certain Behaviors & Lifestyle Choices

Certain behaviors and lifestyle choices can also contribute to erectile dysfunction. These include:

  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Smoking
  • Illicit drug abuse
  • Lack of physical activity
  • Being obese or overweight

If you think you have ED, a good first step would be to consult with your doctor.

broken-cigarrette

How to Test If You Have Erectile Dysfunction

If you worry you might suffer from ED, a common first thing to do is to see a doctor. Certain medical tests can determine if you have erectile dysfunction.

In most cases, a doctor will ask about your sexual history and perform a physical examination to determine the cause of erection problems.

The physical exam typically includes checking your blood pressure, an examination of the testicles and penis for any irregularities, a urine test, and a blood test to measure testosterone, prolactin, and luteinizing hormone levels.

If the results of a regular physical exam fail to provide any conclusive evidence, there are additional tests that can be carried out to get to the root of the problem. These include the ones listed below.

NPT (Nocturnal Penile Tumescence) Test

The NPT test is used for checking if you’re having normal erections while sleeping. On average, men have 3 to 5 full erections during REM sleep.

An NPT test consists of a device called the snap gauge being fitted to the penis. The device is made out of a plastic film which snaps at particular pressures.

The snap gauge is connected to an electronic monitoring device which records the number, the duration and the rigidness of the erections you have during sleep.

Intracavernosal Injection Test

This test consists of the doctor injecting a medicine into the penis’s side to induce an erection after which the duration and fullness of the erection are measured.

Doppler Ultrasound Test

Also known as the color duplex Doppler, the Doppler ultrasound consists of a handheld ultrasound device being passed over the penis.

Using reflective sound waves, the device measures the speed and direction of the blood flowing through the blood vessels.

linear-ultrasound

Available Erectile Dysfunction Treatments

As we’ve mentioned, there is a wide range of erectile dysfunction treatments available today. These include injections, oral medications, and surgery.

Oral Medications

When it comes to oral ED medication, the four most widely-used drugs are Sildenafil (Viagra), Tadalafil (Adcirca, Cialis), Vardenafil (Levitra, Staxyn), and Avanafil (Stendra).

Sildenafil (Viagra)

Better known as Viagra, Sildenafil is perhaps the most common and widely-used over-the-counter erectile dysfunction drug. In fact, it was the dominant ED drug in the market from its initial introduction until 2007.

Approved as an ED drug in the late nineties, Sildenafil was originally developed as a medicine for high blood pressure. Sildenafil increases the flow of blood to the penis’s ‘spongy tissue’, thus making it easier to develop an erection.

The drug typically starts working within 30 to 60 minutes and its effects last 3 to 5 hours on average.

Sildenafil’s potential side effects include heartburn, flushed skin, nasal obstruction, and headaches. However, more severe side effects have been associated with Sildenafil, particularly in heart patients.

It’s advisable to consult with a qualified doctor before you use the drug.

Tadalafil (Adcirca, Cialis)

While the effects of Tadalafil are similar to those of Sildenafil, it’s a longer-lasting erectile dysfunction drug. Having a 17.5-hour half-life, it can remain active for as long as 36 hours, which makes it the longest lasting ED drug currently available.

Tadalafil typically starts taking effect in 15 to 45 minutes. Tadalafil’s side effects are similar to those associated with Sildenafil. However, the drug is known to dilate blood vessels which can potentially cause back and muscle pain.

Most people opt for Tadalafil over Sildenafil because of the former’s significantly longer half-life.

Vardenafil (Levitra, Staxyn)

Vardenafil is another ED medication that works similarly to Tadalafil and Sildenafil. Levitra is the brand name that’s most common for Vardenafil.

When it comes to duration of effect, Vardenafil sits in the middle of the ED drugs mentioned above. With its duration time of 5 to 8 hours, Vardenafil lasts longer than Sildenafil but falls short of Tadalafil’s incredibly long effective duration.

The side effects of Vardenafil are similar to those of other ED drugs.

Avanafil (Stendra)

Just like Sildenafil and Tadalafil, Avanafil enhances sexual stimulation by increasing blood flow to the penis. Avanafil belongs to a category of drugs known as phosphodiesterase (PDE) inhibitors.

While the drug can be effectively used to achieve an erection, it cannot increase sexual desire or cure erectile dysfunction. The side effects of Avanafil include flushed skin, headaches, and back pain.

impotency-pill

Injections

There are also effective drugs for erectile dysfunction available in injectable form. The most commonly-used are testosterone replacement therapy and Alprostadil self-injections.

Alprostadil Self-Injections

Only available by prescription, Alprostadil works by expanding the blood vessels in the body which allows for increased blood flow to the extremities – including the penis.

The increased blood flow makes it easier to achieve an erection. Alprostadil can either be injected directly into the penis or can be administered as a suppository through the urethra.

However, Alprostadil has been found to be more effective when it’s injected. The drug typically starts working within 5 to 20 minutes.

Testosterone Replacement Therapy

Testosterone replacement therapy is commonly prescribed to men who don’t respond well to common ED drugs such as the ones mentioned above.

The primary reason why erectile dysfunction is so prevalent amongst older men is that testosterone production in the body naturally decreases with age.

Testosterone injections can be used to increase testosterone levels, which in turn makes it easier to get an erection. While testosterone replacement therapy is generally considered to be safe, there are some side effects that are associated with it. These include:

  • Gynecomastia
  • Decreased testicle size
  • Increased aggression
  • Mood swings
  • Irregularities in lipid and cholesterol levels
  • Reduced sperm count
  • Enhanced risk of developing prostate problems
  • Fluid retention

If you’re considering testosterone replacement therapy for erectile dysfunction, it’s crucial to consult with your doctor. Similar to other prescription medications, testosterone should be administered exactly as directed by your doctor.

doctor giving an injection to a banana

Penis Pumps

A penis pump is a vacuum constriction apparatus that can help men with erectile dysfunction develop and maintain an erection.

The apparatus consists of an acrylic tube with a pump which is directly attached to the tip of the penis. The pump is then used to create a vacuum in the cylinder which helps to get an erection.

The device also comes with a constriction ring, which can be used to maintain the erection.

Penis pumps are a good option for men with ED who also suffer from conditions such as diabetes, poor blood flow to the penis, and psychological issues like anxiety and depression.

The side effects of using penis pumps include minor bruising and decreased ejaculation force.

penis enlargement pump

Penile Implants (Surgery)

If you aren’t responding well to common ED drugs and treatments, penile implant surgery could be a viable option. The procedure involves the placement of a prosthetic device inside the scrotum and the penis.

The device helps in restoring sexual function and achieving an erection. There are various types of penile implants available, and which one is used depends upon your preferences and needs.

Other factors which determine the suitability of penile implants include:

  • Any history of pelvic or abdominal surgery
  • Whether the penis is circumcised or not
  • General health and well-being
  • Colostomy
  • Size of glands, penis, and scrotum

Below are the three most widely used types of penile implants.

3-Piece Inflatable Pump

Using a 3-piece inflatable pump consists of placing an inflatable pump in the scrotum and a pair of cylinders in the penis. Squeezing the scrotum pump causes the fluids to shift from the container into the cylinders, thereby inducing an erection.

Upon squeezing the release valve, the fluid moves back into the container, and the penis goes back to being flaccid.

2-Piece Inflatable Pump

This type of implant is similar to the 3-Piece Pump, but instead of the fluid being stored into a separate container, it’s actually stored in the pump placed in the scrotum.

Semi-Rigid Rods

This form of penile implants involves two flexible rods being placed into the penis through surgery. One important thing to know about this type of implants is that the stiffness and size of the rods don’t vary. However, they can be set in different positions.

an infographic about penile prosthesis

Exercises for ED

While there isn’t as much scientific evidence on the effectiveness of using exercises compared to using drugs for treating ED, numerous medical studies have indicated that specific ED exercises, in particular ones that strengthen the pelvic floor, can be effective against the symptoms of ED.

The muscles in your pelvic floor play a crucial role in helping you achieve and maintain an erection. According to results of a medical study conducted in 2005, a 3-month regimen of pelvic floor exercises can effectively restore erectile function to a significant degree.

Alternative Herbal Supplements

There is a wide variety of herbal remedies and supplement that can be effective in improving erectile function. Pomegranate and ginseng are two natural ED treatments that have been found to be especially effective.

By increasing nitric oxide production in the body, ginseng improves blood flow, which helps in getting and maintaining an erection. Pomegranate juice, on the other hand, is a great antioxidant which can help prevent atherosclerosis: a leading cause of ED.

herbal supplements in a bowl

If you’re looking for an effective natural supplement for ED, Viasil is one of the most effective products currently available in the market.

In addition to ginseng and pomegranate, Viasil contains a wide variety of all-natural herbal ingredients such as Gingko Biloba, Citrus Sinensis, and Zinc which aren’t only highly effective but also don’t have any adverse side-effects.

Lifestyle Changes That Can Help With ED

In addition to regular exercise, there are numerous lifestyle changes that are ED remedies. A healthy diet, for instance, significantly reduces the risk of ED.

Maintaining a healthy body weight also reduces the risk of diabetes and vascular disease; which are two of the leading causes of ED.

healthy diet products spread around the table

Seeking Medical Help

If you think you’re experiencing erectile dysfunction, the first thing you should do is get in touch with your doctor. Why? Well, there are 2 main reasons.

The first one is that in most cases, treating ED is as simple as taking a sex pill prescribed by your doctor. The second reason is that erectile dysfunction can be linked with a much more severe health condition.

Furthermore, men are sometimes too uncomfortable or embarrassed to open up about erection problems. However, a doctor needs facts and details about your symptoms to prescribe an effective treatment plan.

Conclusion

If you have erectile dysfunction, it’s nothing to be embarrassed or ashamed about. It’s a condition that affects more men than you think. In most cases, it can be treated easily as there is a wide variety of ED treatments and medications available in the market.

If you’re concerned about the side effects of commonly-used ED drugs such as Sildenafil and Tadalafil, all-natural supplements such as Viasil can be effectively used to restore erectile function and enhance sexual performance.

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