Erectile dysfunction refers to the inability to achieve and maintain an erection firm enough for sexual activity. It is a condition which affects as many as 20 million men in the United States each year. Erectile dysfunction can be eliminated by improving mental and physical health. It can also be treated through the use of prescription medications like tadalafil and sildenafil. In the following article we discuss erectile dysfunction treatments, which include the medications tadalafil and sildenafil, testosterone therapy, couples counseling, penile implants, and changes in diet and exercise.
What Is Erectile Dysfunction?
Erectile dysfunction is the recurring inability to achieve and maintain an erection firm enough for sex. Ongoing erectile dysfunction can cause stress and anxiety, affect self-confidence, and contribute to relationship problems. Issues with getting or maintaining an erection can also be linked to underlying health concerns like type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and chronic kidney disease.
What Causes Erectile Dysfunction?
Erectile dysfunction is a common condition that may affect as many as 20 million people in the United States each year. Erectile dysfunction can be caused by physical, emotional, and psychological factors. Medical conditions that affect blood flow such as heart disease and diabetes can also contribute to erectile dysfunction. Most cases of erectile dysfunction are secondary, meaning that a person developed erectile dysfunction over time instead of primary cases, in which someone has never been able to achieve an erection.
The most common causes of erectile dysfunction include diabetes, heart disease, antidepressant drugs, depression and sexual anxiety.
Erectile Dysfunction Treatment
There are many treatment options for erectile dysfunction. These include medications that can help improve blood flow and prevent erectile dysfunction, including tadalafil and sildenafil. For erectile dysfunction that may be caused by psychological or emotional factors, sex therapy or couples counseling can be helpful. In other cases, men may require penile or urethral implants to maintain an erection.
Tadalafil belongs to a group of medications called phosphodiesterase inhibitors. These medicines work to prevent an enzyme called phosphodiesterase type-5 from causing vasodilation, or decrease of blood pressure, in the penis. By inhibiting the function of this enzyme, tadalafil helps increase blood flow to the penis and maintain an erection.
Sildenafil is a prescription drug available as an oral tablet and suspension. It is most often purchased as the brand name drug Viagra. Sildenafil regulates the activity of enzymes that control muscle contraction and relaxation. Like tadalafil, sildenafil also works to prevent the enzyme phosphodiesterase type-5 from decreasing blood pressure in the penis.
Testosterone is a hormone produced by the testicles responsible for the development of male characteristics like facial hair. Testosterone also plays a key role in maintaining sexual health and enabling men to achieve erections. Advancing age, injury, and infection are some of the many reasons a man may have low testosterone.
Testosterone deficiency can make it difficult for a man to achieve an erection firm enough for sexual activity. Fortunately, low testosterone can be treated through testosterone therapy. Popular methods of testosterone therapy include intramuscular injections, testosterone gel applied to the skin, deodorant-like testosterone sticks, and mucoadhesive material applied to the teeth.
Sex Therapy or Couples Counseling
Sometimes, disagreements or discord within a relationship may make it difficult for men to attain and maintain an erection for sexual activity. Sex therapy is a short-term form of counseling involving between five and twenty sessions with a sex therapist. During these sessions, a therapist will ask questions about the patient’s sexual experience and history. They may also give the patient assignments to complete at home including reading books about sexuality and exercises designed to alleviate the pressure to perform during sex.
Couples counseling can also be useful in identifying the underlying cause of erectile dysfunction. A session with a couples counselor can help a couple improve their communication and lovemaking skills. The counselor may also be able to help a couple decide on other treatment methods to pursue.
Penile Injection Therapy
Penile injection therapy is a self-administered treatment option that can help men achieve erections on their own. Most men begin penile injection therapy with a drug called Trimix. Trimix contains a mixture of alprostadil, phentolamine, and papaverine, which work together to soothe muscles and open blood vessels in the penis, enabling men to attain an erection.
Erectile Dysfunction Surgery
In extreme cases of erectile dysfunction, a surgical procedure may be necessary for a man to attain an erection. Surgery for erectile dysfunction is performed in two ways: implantation of a device to make the penis erect, or by rebuilding arteries to increase blood flow to the penis. Penile implants can be used to make the penis longer and more firm for sexual activity. Rebuilding arteries is achieved through a procedure known as penile vascular reconstructive surgery. It involves transferring an artery from the abdominal muscle to the penis to improve blood flow.
An urethral suppository is a medical treatment used to treat men who suffer from erectile dysfunction. One of the most common urethral suppositories is the natural protein Alprostadil. Alrpostadil belongs to a group of medicines called vasodilators that increase blood flow by expanding blood vessels.
Natural Remedies for Erectile Dysfunction
Natural remedies such as changes in diet, increased exercise, and weight loss have been shown to contribute to overall sexual health and improve erection quality. A man’s erection health and quality is directly linked to his overall health. Most activities and habits that improve overall health may also be able to prevent erectile dysfunction.
People with diabetes, obesity, and cardiovascular disease are at a greater risk for erectile dysfunction. Consuming a balanced diet can help one lose weight and prevent erectile dysfunction.
Research indicates that consistent exercise can help protect against erectile dysfunction. It may be particularly effective if erectile dysfunction is known to be caused by obesity or cardiovascular disease. A 2018 study published in the Jounral of Sex and Medicine found that moderate-to-intense exercise for 40 minutes a day, four days a week help to reduce the frequency of erectile dysfunction.
High testosterone levels can improve sexual health and help a man achieve a strong, healthy erection. Research has shown that losing weight can help increase testosterone production. Many men who lose significant weight also gain lean muscle which helps increase testosterone levels and improves stamina for sexual activity.
An erection is caused by the enlargement of blood vessels in the penis. Men with healthier blood vessels have been shown to experience stronger erections and better sexual health. The nicotine in cigarettes causes blood vessels to constrict and narrow, limiting blood flow to the penis. Over time, the constant restriction caused by smoking can cause blood vessels to permanently tighten, and in some cases eventually cause permanent erectile dysfunction. Cutting down on smoking or eliminating smoking from your daily routine can improve blood vessel health which supports erection quality.
Erectile dysfunction is a common condition in which men are unable to attain or maintain an erection strong enough for sexual activity. It is often caused by physical, emotional, or psychological factors.
Erectile dysfunction can be treated in multiple ways. Medications like sildenafil and tadalafil can be used to increase blood flow to the penis. For other men, improving physical and mental health may alleviate erectile dysfunction. In extreme cases, surgery or another medical procedure may be necessary to treat erectile dysfunction.