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Erectile Dysfunction Health Center

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Erectile Dysfunction: Where to Start

Day One ... We're here to help.

The doctor says you have erectile dysfunction (ED). It sounds terrible, but it's not the end of your sex life. In fact, your sex life probably is about to get much better.

You may have a referral to a urologist, a doctor who specializes in treating this condition, for more tests. You may already have a trial prescription for Viagra or similar drugs. Whatever you're doing next, the most important thing to remember is that you aren't in this alone.

Recommended Related to Erectile Dysfunction

Erections: Use It or Lose It?

Men who have trouble getting erections have sex less often than men with normal sexual function, several studies have shown. But can a long sexual dry spell actually cause erectile dysfunction (ED)? And can men cut their risk for ED by having sex (or masturbating) on a regular basis?

Read the Erections: Use It or Lose It? article > >

Your partner is also affected by the problem and is an important part of the solution. Nothing is going to help you more than talking with your partner about what works, and doesn't work, for both of you.

Drugs and Devices for Erectile Dysfunction

An erection starts in the brain, where arousal signals trigger a chemical chain reaction. This process results in relaxation of the muscle in the blood vessel walls that keeps blood from flowing into the penis. Lots of different things can go wrong along the way, which is why there are so many different causes of ED.

If you have erectile dysfunction, Viagra or similar drugs -- like Cialis and Levitra -- may very well solve your problem. These drugs help the arousal signal from the brain do what it's supposed to do by allowing more blood flow into the penis to allow for an erection. They will not give you an erection, but they allow you to have one with stimulation. You and your partner will have to adjust to using these medications.

While these drugs work for many people with erectile dysfunction, they won't work for everyone. It is also important to know that not everyone is a suitable candidate for these drugs. If these issues are true in your case, there are other options to consider.

To bypass roadblocks along the brain-to-penis highway, drugs can be injected or inserted directly into the penis. While some men find this painful to think about, many others find that it can restore a satisfying sex life and is highly effective.

One simple device now making a comeback is the penile pump. It's a vacuum pump that allows a man to draw blood into the penis. A constriction ring placed at the base of the penis keeps the penis erect during intercourse.

Other men prefer to undergo surgery for the insertion of a penile implant. The simplest and most durable of these is a flexible rod. Other men prefer a fluid-filled implant that lets them pump the penis erect.

Sexuality and Erectile Dysfunction

Learning to overcome erectile dysfunction is like learning any sexual skill; it takes patience, practice, and a partner. Solving erection problems is only a part of regaining a satisfying sex life. You and your partner have a whole world of erotic possibilities to explore. Remember the sexiest word in the language: communication.

Yours in health,
Daniel J. DeNoon

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Charles E. Jennings, MD on September 12, 2013

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