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ED Treatments: From Medication to Surgery

ED Treatments: From Medication to Surgery

About 50% of men will experience erectile dysfunction (ED) at some point in their lives, which means they can’t have an erection strong enough for sexual intercourse. ED can have many causes. It’s commonly caused by blood flow problems, nerve damage, emotional reasons, or other medical conditions like diabetes. Lifestyle factors like a poor diet and lack of exercise can also contribute to ED.

There are a number of treatments for ED, but every treatment isn’t right for every man. The best treatment for you may depend on the cause of the ED, your other health conditions, the medications you take, and your personal preferences.

Finding the cause is the first step toward choosing the most appropriate treatment.


The body and mind must work together for sex to be successful. Emotional challenges or relationship issues can cause ED or make it worse. Anxiety, depression, PTSD, stress, and worrying about ED can all interfere with normal sexual function. Psychotherapy or couples counseling can often help with these issues. Therapy may also be recommended in conjunction with medical treatments.

Oral medications

Oral medications are typically the first line of treatment for ED. They work for about 80% of men who try them. They work by relaxing a certain type of muscle or blood vessels to increase blood flow to the penis. Increased blood flow makes it easier to get and maintain an erection.

Common oral medications may have side effects like flushing, headaches, indigestion, nasal congestion, and visual disturbances (temporary). Medications must be taken 1-2 hours before sex and only work if there is normal nerve function in the penis.

You may recognize the brand names Cialis®, Levitra®, and Viagra® from advertising. Generic versions are also available that may cost less.

Testosterone therapy

If testing determines that low testosterone is the probable cause of ED, testosterone therapy may help alone or when used with oral medications. Testosterone therapy can be in the form of a gel, cream, patch, injection, or pellet.

Intraurethral therapy (IU)

Intraurethral therapy uses a tiny pellet of medication that relaxes the blood vessels in the penis. It’s the same medication as used in self-injection therapy, but it is administered without a needle. Instead, the man inserts the tiny pellet of medication into his urethra, where it is absorbed. It may cause a burning feeling in the penis and is not as effective as self-injection.

Self-injection therapy

Intracavernosal injection therapy (ICI) uses medication that relaxes the blood vessels that deliver blood to the penis. The man injects a small dose of medication directly into the side of the penis. As blood vessels relax, blood can flow into the penis, causing an erection. This method can cause scarring and, in rare cases, high blood pressure and dizziness.

Vacuum devices

Vacuum devices are a mechanical option for men who can’t or don’t want to take medications. By placing a specially designed tube over the penis and forcing air out of the tube, a vacuum is created. The vacuum effect draws blood into the tissue of the penis, which causes an erection. Then, placing an elastic ring around the base of the penis holds the blood in place for as long as 30 minutes. About 75% of men who try vacuum devices have success.

Penile implant surgery

Surgery to implant an inflatable prosthesis gives a man control over having an erection. The implant most often uses a pair of inflatable cylinders with a pump mechanism implanted into the scrotum. The man can inflate the cylinders with fluid from an implanted reservoir by compressing the pump. About 95% of implant surgeries are successful and the penis implant cost is often covered by insurance.

ED doesn’t have to be a part of aging

ED is often thought of as a normal part of aging, but it doesn’t have to be. Many causes of ED are unrelated to age, and aging doesn’t always cause ED. Fortunately, there are also many treatments for ED. The key to finding the right treatment is to speak openly with your doctor about your symptoms and medical history. It can be uncomfortable to talk about, but many men are treated successfully and can continue to enjoy a healthy, active sex life.

Don’t suffer with ED any longer –  call 843-347-2450 to schedule an appointment today!

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