- Primary ED is when a man has never achieved or sustained an erection.
- Secondary ED is when a man who once was capable of getting or sustaining an erection is not able to do so later.
Many cases of secondary erectile dysfunction are temporary and can be cured. A study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine found that about 29 percent of the men diagnosed with erectile dysfunction experienced remission after five years.
Even when erectile dysfunction cannot be cured, getting the right treatment from a doctor helps improve the symptoms.
How is erectile dysfunction treated?
Doctors first analyze your medical history and perform a complete physical examination, including your genitals. The type of treatment they advise can be broadly divided into two categories:
These treatments include medications and devices, such as penile pumps. Since they only offer short-term relief, they fail to address the underlying cause. However, they do help most people with conditions such as diabetes and atherosclerosis.
- Medications: Over-the-counter medications, such as Viagra (sildenafil), are the most commonly used treatment for erectile dysfunction. These effectively help most men to achieve or maintain erections.
- Penile pumps: Not all men with erectile dysfunction benefit from over-the-counter medications. Some benefit from penile pumps, which are cylindrical devices in which the penis is placed to help it get turgid and filled with blood by creating a vacuum.
Targeting the underlying cause
These treatments address the underlying cause of ED since they’re focused on treating the underlying condition (such as diabetes and atherosclerosis). Treatments may include testosterone therapy and other medications or surgeries.
- Treatment of clogged arteries: Using medications and making lifestyle changes can clear the obstruction in clogged arteries and improve cardiovascular health.
- Psychotherapy: Psychotherapy in the form of counseling may help address the underlying mental blocks, such as anxiety, stress and low self-esteem.
- Surgery: Men with severe ED due to physical trauma (to the penis), prior pelvic surgery or cancer often require surgery that involves inserting a penile implant that is inflated by pumping in pressurized liquid to achieve and sustain erections, which carries the potential of offering a permanent solution to men with persistent ED.
What lifestyle modifications can help improve erectile dysfunction?
Addictions, such as smoking and alcohol abuse, damage the lining of the blood vessels and hamper the flow of blood to the penis. Smokers are almost two times more at risk of ED than nonsmokers. Being overweight and having a sedentary lifestyle also contribute to erectile dysfunction.
Often men with ED can improve sexual function by making a few, effective lifestyle modifications, such as:
All these factors improve cardiovascular health and thus, improve blood flow to the penis. Particularly, men who quit smoking experienced significant improvements in their erectile dysfunction.
Including colorful vegetables (bell peppers, broccoli, spinach and kale), fruits (berries, apples, kiwis, oranges, grapes, pineapples and olives) and green tea to your diet can also help improve the blood vessel lining of your organs, which will in turn help improve your ED.
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
Kim ED. Erectile Dysfunction Treatment & Management. Medscape. https://emedicine.medscape.com/article/444220-treatment#d9
Martin SA, Atlantis E, Lange K, Taylor AW, O'Loughlin P, Wittert GA; Florey Adelaide Male Ageing Study. Predictors of Sexual Dysfunction Incidence and Remission in Men. J Sex Med. 2014 May;11(5):1136-47. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24548342/
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