Erectile Dysfunction (ED, Impotence)

  • Medical Author:
    Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD

    Dr. Charles "Pat" Davis, MD, PhD, is a board certified Emergency Medicine doctor who currently practices as a consultant and staff member for hospitals. He has a PhD in Microbiology (UT at Austin), and the MD (Univ. Texas Medical Branch, Galveston). He is a Clinical Professor (retired) in the Division of Emergency Medicine, UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, and has been the Chief of Emergency Medicine at UT Medical Branch and at UTHSCSA with over 250 publications.

  • Medical Editor: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

Take the Impotence (ED) Quiz

Quick GuideSex-Drive Killers: Recognize These Causes of Low Libido

Sex-Drive Killers: Recognize These Causes of Low Libido

Can a penis pump (vacuum device) help erectile dysfunction?

Mechanical vacuum devices cause an erection by creating a vacuum around the penis that draws blood into the penis, engorging it, and expanding it. The devices have three components:

  1. a plastic cylinder, in which the penis is placed;
  2. a pump, which draws air out of the cylinder;
  3. an elastic band, which is placed around the base of the penis, to maintain the erection after the cylinder is removed and during intercourse by preventing blood from flowing back into the body (see figure 2).

One variation of the vacuum device involves a semi-rigid rubber sheath that is placed on the penis and remains there after attaining erection and during intercourse.

Picture of vacuum-constrictor device for erectile dysfunction (ED)
Picture of a penis pump for erectile dysfunction (ED); SOURCE: NIH

Can low testosterone level be replaced?

Because of potential adverse effects and complex metabolism, the use of testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) is limited to men with symptoms of erectile dysfunction and a testosterone level of less than 200 nanograms per deciliter. Preparations available in the U.S. are topical, injectable, and transbuccal (placing inside mouth between the cheek and upper gum) testosterone. Oral preparations are not available in the U.S.

Common side effects of testosterone replacement therapy include local irritations, prostate enlargement, breast tissue enlargement, aggravation of breast and prostate cancers, depression, elevation of red blood cell count (polycythemia), or worsening of congestive heart failure.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 2/25/2016

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