- What Is
- Medical Treatments
- Non-Drug Treatments
- Natural Cures
- When to See a Doctor
What is erectile dysfunction?
One way or another, there are treatments for all cases of erectile dysfunction (ED). The length of time that it takes to cure your ED will ultimately depend on the cause. The important question to ask is how can erectile dysfunction be cured in your particular situation?
Permanent solutions take longer because they require you to fix any underlying problems. For example, you may need to make long-term lifestyle changes or find treatments for underlying conditions before you can get a natural erection again.
Luckily, temporary solutions are available that can work within minutes. These are mostly mechanical devices and prescription medications that you’ll need to use every time you want an erection.
As a last resort, there are also permanent medical interventions that can help — specifically surgery. But keep in mind that surgery involves a lengthy recovery time and isn't the same as restoring your natural ability to get erections.
Erectile dysfunction is defined as your inability to get or maintain an erection when you want to do so.
It’s a fairly common condition. More than 50% of all males between the ages of 40 and 70 years report some level of erectile dysfunction.
It’s important to keep in mind that everyone occasionally struggles to get an erection. It qualifies as erectile dysfunction only when it happens to you frequently or if it’s getting progressively worse.
Erectile dysfunction causes
Erectile dysfunction has both physical and psychological causes.
Psychological causes can develop at any time. They can be related to a number of problems, including:
- Stress from work
- Stress from your home life
- Fear of intimacy
- Performance anxiety
- Low self-esteem
Physical causes can include lifestyle choices, the use of some prescription medicines, and underlying medical conditions.
Potential lifestyle causes include:
- Using certain recreational or prescription drugs
- Heavy alcohol use
- Smoking cigarettes or cigars
- Not getting enough exercise
Medical conditions that can cause ED include:
- Atherosclerosis, where your blood vessels harden and become blocked
- Type 2 Diabetes
- Heart disease
- Chronic kidney disease
- Cancer treatments near your genitals including surgery and radiation for prostate, colorectal, and bladder cancer
- Multiple sclerosis
- Peyronie’s disease
- Injury to your genitals or nearby body parts
Examples of medications that can cause ED include:
- Antiandrogens that used to treat prostate cancer
- High blood pressure medications
- Sedatives that are meant to make you calm and sleepy
- Ulcer medication
- Appetite suppressants
Talk to your doctor about alternative medications if your prescriptions are causing your ED. Not all medications have an alternative, but it’s still a worthwhile conversation.
What are medical treatments for erectile dysfunction?
There are both oral and self-injected medications that you can use to get an erection. These are one of the most common treatments to use while you get any underlying physical or psychological conditions under control.
You’ll usually be prescribed an oral option first because they’re easier to self-administer. These are phosphodiester inhibitors that modify the smooth muscles used in an erection. These types of medications are called oral phosphodiesterase inhibitors, or PDE5 inhibitors for short. They’re effective in 65% to 70% of people with ED and include:
If these don’t work, you can also try alprostadil. Before sex, you either insert this drug into your urethra or perform an intracavernous injection into your penis. You administer both types of medication shortly before you want to engage in sexual activity.
Make sure you seek medical help if you notice any negative side effects from these medications. For example, speak with your doctor if you experience an erection that lasts longer than four hours.
What ED cures don’t involve medication?
You don’t always need to look to medication for a cure for your ED. In many cases you can consider medications as temporary solutions until some of these slower cures are able to take effect..
Exactly which steps you take will depend on what’s causing your ED. For example, if your ED is due to an unhealthy lifestyle then living a healthy life will make it easier for you to get an erection. Suggestions include:
Therapy and counseling services can be great treatments for many of the psychological causes of ED. Talking to someone about your worries and stress is a proven way to manage these concerns. It’s sometimes enough to get your sex life back on track. You can go to sessions by yourself or with your partner.
Talking to a therapist can be helpful no matter what is causing your ED. There are many new emotions — like frustration — that are associated with this condition. Therapy can help you come to terms with these new realities.
There are also mechanical devices that you can use every time you want an erection. These devices are safe at any age. Just make sure that you’re using them correctly.
For example, there are vacuum devices that use suction to pull blood into your penis. These are the best solutions when you have trouble getting erect. Flexible, elastic rings are useful for maintaining an erection. These fit on the base of your penis and keep blood from prematurely leaving the area.
When do you need surgery for erectile dysfunction?
Surgery is the only permanent solution to your ED when medical, mechanical, and psychological treatment methods don’t work.
The surgery implants a penile prosthesis. This way you no longer need to rely on your own biological systems for your erection. The prosthetics can be semi-rigid silicone rods or inflatable devices with multiple chambers that fill with saline when you want to use them. You should discuss all of the options with your doctor to figure out the type of implant that’s best for you in the long term.
Over 95% of the couples who have tried this solution report success and satisfaction. Plus, there’s less than a 5% chance of infection or malfunction after the surgery. The average recovery time is eight weeks.
What are natural cures for erectile dysfunction?
You may have come across any number of products that are marketed as natural cures for erectile dysfunction. To date, none of these are approved by the FDA.
A meta-analysis of scientific trials found some evidence that ginseng can help restore your natural erections. The same study didn't find any conclusive proof for either saffron or T. terrestris, two products that are sometimes marketed as natural remedies for ED. This data is preliminary and more studies are needed to verify these early results.
Talk to your doctor before trying any natural remedies. Some can have adverse reactions with other medications. The FDA has also issued consumer warnings and alerts about do-called natural concoctions with unregulated amounts of tested medications — specifically the active ingredients in regulated products like Viagra.
When should you see your doctor for erectile dysfunction?
Some causes of ED are life-threatening when left untreated. You should talk to your doctor whenever you first start to notice persistent symptoms.
Keep in mind that you deserve a healthy sex life at any age. Get medical help whenever your ED begins to decrease your quality of life.
Latest Men's Health News
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American Urological Association: "Erectile Dysfunction: AUA Guideline (2018)."
Drugs: "Herbal Dietary Supplements for Erectile Dysfunction: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis."
European Urology Focus: "Sexual Dysfunction and Bother Due to Erectile Dysfunction in the Healthy Elderly Male Population: Prevalence from a Systematic Review."
Merck Manual Professional Version: "Erectile Dysfunction."
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases: "Symptoms and Causes," "Treatment."
Urology Care Foundation: "Erectile Dysfunction (ED)."
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