Erectile Dysfunction is a condition that highlights the inability to achieve and or maintain an erect penis adequate for sexual function. This condition is one of the most common sexual problems for men and mainly increases with age. According to research around 42% of the men get affected by ED at the age of 52. However ED is not just age related or psychological, there are a number of medical reasons for the same. Research and medical exposure has shown that there can be a number of factors responsible for ED. Most men have difficulty with erections from time to time, yet in some men, it is a regular and more severe problem. It can cause low self-esteem, performance anxiety, depression and stress. ED may affect the quality of a marriage or intimate relationships. However, there are many safe and effective ED treatments available.
- Lifestyle Changes – ED can be treated by making small lifestyle changes like adding daily exercise to your routine. Exercise boosts blood circulation to the penis which in turn may help in improving the problem of ED. Also a good diet of fruits, vegetables, proteins, whole grains is important. A combination of exercise and proper diet can limit the chances of having erectile dysfunction. Adequate sleep is necessary to support a healthy level of testosterone. Smoking and alcohol have also shown to decrease full functioning of the penis by constricting the blood vessels and inability to maintain an erection.
- Use of Oral Medications – known as phosphodiesterase-5 inhibitors (PDE-5), Sildenafil Citrate (Viagra), Vardenafilhcl (Levitra), Tadalafil (Cialis).
Men with ED take these pills before starting any sexual activity and these drugs boost natural signals that are generated during sex and improve and prolong the erection. The mechanism of the drug is by relaxation of muscle cells in the penis allowing for better blood flow which provides a rigid erection. These medications are highly effective, and improvement is seen in most men on usage. The drugs are effective regardless of race and age. Studies have shown that these medications can be taken by heart patients, but men taking medication like nitrates should consult with their doctors before them. The commonly seen side effects are headache, stuffy nose, flushing and muscle aches. In some rare instances, sildenafil may cause temporary blue-green shading of vision. No long term risks are seen. The proper instructions for these medications should be taken for best results.
- Penile injections – Alprostadil is approved for use. This drug comes in two forms: injections that the patient places directly into the side of the penis and an intra-urethral suppository. This drug has shown that men can achieve a firm erection viable for sexual intercourse with self-injection. Modifying alprostadil to allow intra-urethral delivery avoids the need for a shot, but reduces the likelihood of successful treatment. The commonly seen side effect is a burning sensation in the penis and a prolonged erection (over four hours).
- Use of an External Vacuum Device – This device combines a plastic cylinder or tube that is slipped over the penis and makes a seal with skin of the body. A pump present on the opposite end of the cylinder creates a low-pressure vacuum around the erectile tissue, resulting in an erection. To keep the erection firm after removal of the plastic cylinder a rubber constriction band goes around the base of the penis. With proper instruction, it is seen that 75 percent of men can achieve a functional erection.
- Reconstructive Prosthetic Surgery – (placement of a penile prosthesis or “implant”) can be done, with patient satisfaction rates up to 90 percent. Prosthetic placement can be performed in an outpatient setting or with overnight hospital observation. These are recommended only in patients who have tried all other means of treatment.
The Sexual Health Clinic specializes in providing counseling, management and treatment for male reproductive issues.