Treatment Options for Erectile Dysfunction

Erectile dysfunction is so common it is estimated that 30 million men in the U.S. and 150 million men worldwide suffer from ED, according to the American Urological Association.

ED, the persistent inability to develop or sustain an erection that’s firm enough for sex, is of great concern to the men and women who live with it. In addition to causing performance anxiety and trouble in relationships, it may also act as a precursor to an array of health problems including cardiovascular disease.

Today, there are many treatment options available – both noninvasive and surgical – that are helping men reclaim their sex lives.  

The first step to treatment is seeking the help of a trusted urologist with experience diagnosing and treating a variety of urological disorders. They’ll conduct a careful physical examination of your penis and testicles to ensure that your nerves are working properly. They will assess whether there is the possibility of any abnormal hormonal changes such as low testosterone; the enlargement of breasts and hair loss are both indicative of this problem.

Many traditional diagnostics used at doctor’s appointments will also be conducted. Blood pressure testing, listening to your heart, and taking blood and urine tests may reveal the presence of other conditions, such as diabetes or heart disease, which could be the underlying cause of your ED.

One aspect of ED that deserves more attention is the psychological component. For this reason, your doctor may ask you a series of questions relating to your mental health and may speak with your partner about their experiences.

There are several lifestyle choices that can worsen ED. Being overweight or obese can leave you with a laundry list of health problems – among them problems maintaining an erection. Your physician may be able to recommend an exercise program that’s suited to you. In addition to lowering the number on the scale, physical activity can also help reduce stress and get your blood flowing. And while you’re correcting your habits, retire the cigarettes and pick up a prescription to help you kick that habit to the curb.

If your doctor determines that everything else is already being done to remedy the situation, an oral medication may be recommended. Countless ED medications have infiltrated the market since Viagra (nicknamed “the little blue pill that could”) arrived on the scene. Known in the medical community as sildenafil, the drug still holds a huge share of the market sales although there are several others including Adcirca, Cialis, Levitra, Staxyn, and Stendra. Harnessing the effects of nitric oxide, a natural chemical generated by the male body to relax muscles in the penis, these FDA-approved phosphodiesterase-5 inhibitors promote blood flow in this region, thus allowing for an erection in response to stimulation.

Your doctor may employ a multidisciplinary approach to care, prescribing self-injections, suppositories, and testosterone replacement therapy as well.

People who take nitroglycerin pills for cardiovascular disease cannot ingest phosphodiesterase-5 inhibitors as they drastically lower blood pressure. If oral medications may not be used, a hand, or battery-powered penis pump is an alternative option. These devices essentially act as a vacuum – drawing blood to the penis. This mode of treatment isn’t without its caveats though; some patients experience bruising of the penis, and restricted ejaculation.

Most doctors will attempt all other treatments before resorting to surgical methods for ED. But for those who haven’t had success with any of the aforementioned remedies, penile implant surgery offers another option. Prosthetic rods – either malleable, or the more natural-looking inflatable variety – are inserted into each side of the penis allowing a man to have an erection.

Your urologist has experience diagnosing these types of disorders and will determine whether it’s a psychological or physical issue standing in your way. Dr. Richard Natale is a board-certified urologist, specializing in men’s health and penile implants who offers a host of solutions for ED. For more information, or to schedule an appointment, call (704) 786-5131.

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