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Erectile Dysfunction Treatment
Erectile dysfunction (ED) is the inability to get or keep an erection firm enough to have sexual intercourse. It’s also sometimes referred to as impotence. Occasional ED isn’t uncommon. Many men experience it during times of stress. Often, erectile dysfunction is the first sign of other serious underlying health conditions, such as cardiovascular disease, that could be causing your ED. If you have diabetes, it may be a sign of atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries, which could be causing ED.
What causes erectile dysfunction?
There are many potential causes of ED, but often the cause is unknown. Potential causes include:
- physical problems, such as injury to the nerves that control erections, or problems with blood flow in the penis
- psychological problems, such as anxiety, depression, or stress
- hormonal problems, such as low levels of the hormone testosterone
- certain medications, such as antidepressants
- substance abuse, such as excessive alcohol use, or use of illegal drugs
How is erectile dysfunction treated?
Treatment for ED will depend on the underlying cause. In some cases, such as with psychological issues, treatment may just involve talk therapy. In other cases, treatment may involve medication, lifestyle changes, or surgery.
Medications that may be used to treat ED include:
- phosphodiesterase type 5 inhibitors, such as sildenafil (Viagra), tadalafil (Cialis), and vardenafil (Levitra)
- hormone therapy, such as testosterone replacement
- alprostadil, a synthetic form of the hormone prostaglandin E, which is injected into the penis or inserted into the urethra
In some cases, lifestyle changes may be all that’s needed to treat ED. These changes include:
- quitting smoking
- losing weight
- exercising regularly
- limiting alcohol intake
- treating underlying health conditions, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, or high cholesterol
In severe cases of ED, surgery may be necessary. Surgery options include:
- implants, which involve placing devices in the penis to allow for an erection
- vein ligation, which involves tying off the veins that leak blood from the penis
- arterial reconstruction, which involves correcting problems with the arteries that supply blood to the penis
If you think you may have ED, talk to your doctor. They can perform tests to determine the cause of your ED and recommend treatment options.