If you’re experiencing erectile dysfunction and don’t know where to turn, then help is at hand as we guide you through five of the most common treatments.
1) Addressing Underlying Conditions
Many treatments for erectile dysfunction will help you to manage the problem, but they don’t address the initial cause. Contrary to what you may believe, erectile dysfunction isn’t purely an indicator that you’re “getting old”, instead it can be caused by all manner of things.
You can lower your risk of erectile dysfunction by losing weight, giving up smoking, reducing your stress levels and reducing your alcohol intake.
Making changes to your lifestyle is the best way to ensure that your erectile dysfunction vanishes completely.
2) Phosphodiesterase-5 Inhibitors (PDE5)
PDE5 inhibitors are one of the most common ways to treat erectile dysfunction and they work by enhancing the body’s natural reaction to stimulation – increasing blood flow to the penis.
There are three types of inhibitors widely used in the UK and they each last for a different length of time. However, these medications are only available on prescription, so always make sure to consult a doctor. Viagra typically works within 40 minutes and lasts for up to 4 hours, Cialis works within 30 minutes and lasts for up to 36 hours, while Levitra works within 20 minutes and lasts for up to 12 hours. All of the tablets require stimulation before the erection will take place.
They all have potential side effects, including headaches, indigestion and dizziness, so make sure to read the label.
3) Vacuum Pumps
If you find PDE5 inhibitors ineffective or are concerned about the side effects, then vacuum pumps are another alternative. When used correctly they allow 9 out of 10 men to have sex. Vacuum pumps work by creating a vacuum around your penis that causes blood to rush in, making it erect. By placing a band around the base of the penis an erection can be maintained for about half an hour.
There are potential side effects of pain and bruising, but these affect less than a third of men who use them. However, this method is unsuitable for anyone with a bleeding disorder or for anyone on medication that stops their blood from clotting.
If you don’t find either a vacuum pump or PDE5 inhibitors effective, then there is one more alternative in the form of a medicine called alphrostadil. This man-made hormone increases blood flow to the penis and can produce an erection in as little as 5 minutes.
Available as both an injection into the penis and a small pellet that’s placed inside the urethra, it’s proven effective at stimulating erections in those who don’t respond to PDE5 inhibitors.; alphrostadil injections have been effective in 85 out of 100 men in this position, while the pellets have been successful in up to two thirds.
Alphrostadil should always be used on its own, rather than using it in conjunction with other erectile dysfunction medications.
5) Psychological Treatments
Although lifestyle changes often go a long way towards improving erectile dysfunction, sometimes there can be a psychological cause. If you believe that your erectile dysfunction may be psychological then talk to your doctor about which treatment would be best for you.
Sensate focus involves a gradual build up of intimacy with a partner over a period of weeks, from initially just touching and exploring, with no sexual contact, to concluding with penetrative sex. The idea is to remove the anxiety and pressure of performance, by the knowledge that sex is off the table.
Counselling is another treatment that may prove beneficial if you have unresolved sexual issues. Whether these problems are centred around your current partner or something that happened in your past, by talking through them and addressing them properly you’ll be far more likely to get past them.
Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is one final treatment that is based on the idea that how you think alters how you feel. If your erectile dysfunction stems from negative thoughts, then CBT therapy helps you to see things in a different light.
If you are experiencing erectile dysfunction it’s important to discuss your condition with a medical professional before seeking treatment, as they’ll be able to advise what the best course of action is for you.