Erectile dysfunction, also known as ED, is a common condition in which a man is unable to achieve and sustain an erection.
ED is defined as trouble getting or keeping an erection. ED is also damage to the erectile tissue. Although it isn’t rare for men to have problems with erections from time to time, ED that comes on slowly or happens regularly with sex is not normal and should be treated.
ED is the most common sexual problem men report to their doctor. As many as 1 in 2 men over the age of 50 will have some degree of ED.
A urologist will find the cause(s) of your ED and will help to treat the problem. It can result from health problems, emotional issues, or from both.Some known risk factors for ED are:
Even though ED becomes more common as men age, growing old does not always cause ED. Some men are sexually functional into their 80s.
Physical causes of ED include:
Factors that affect vessels or nerves and restrict blood flow to the penis.
Emotional causes of ED include:
Symptoms of ED may include:
When ED causes problems, a urologist can help.
If ED is causing you problems, a urologist can offer treatment that will fix or improve it, support your circulatory health and help improve the quality of your life.
Treatment for ED starts with taking care of your overall health. Your doctor will highlight risk factors that can be changed or improved, such as diet, exercise, quitting smoking, and getting more sleep.
Your doctor may also adjust any prescribed medication you are taking (never stop or change prescription medication without talking to your doctor first).
Your doctor might suggest seeking treatment for your emotional wellbeing. This may include a referral to a counselor or therapist.
Your doctor will usually offer medication treatment first, which often works well. Always ask about possible side effects.
Oral drugs known as PDE type-5 inhibitors increase penile blood flow to create a strong erection. About 70% of men respond well to these drugs. PDE type-5 inhibitors include Viagra® (sildenafil citrate), Levitra® (vardenafil HCl), Cialis® (tadalafil), and Stendra® (avanafil).
Vacuum Erection Device
A vacuum erection device is a plastic tube that slips over the penis, making a seal with your skin. A pump at the other end of the tube makes a low-pressure vacuum around the erectile tissue which results in an erection. Around 75% of men can get a working erection using a vacuum erection device.
The effectiveness of dietary or herbal supplements isn’t clear. Always talk to your doctor before you take any supplements to self-treat ED.
If low levels of testosterone are found in the blood, testosterone therapy may be combined with ED drugs (PDE-5 inhibitors) to help with erections.
Intracavernosal (ICI) and Intraurethral (IU) Therapies
If oral medications aren’t effective, a drug called Alprostadil can be taken which is given as an injection in the penis (intracavernosal injection or ICI) or through a medicated pellet placed in the urethra (called intraurethral or IU therapy).
If other treatments have not been effective, surgery can be performed which involves a penile implant or prosthesis , and offers a permanent solution to ED. They don’t affect sensation and have a very high success and satisfaction rate. There are two types of penile implants:
Made from two bendable silicone and metal rods, they provide the firmness needed for intercourse and can be bent down for urination.
Fluid-filled cylinders are placed in the penis which are joined to a pump in the scrotum (between the testicles). When pumped, the cylinders inflate and make the penis stiff.
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This information is provided by the Cleveland Clinic and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or healthcare provider. Please consult your healthcare provider for advice about a specific medical condition.
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