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Erectile dysfunction (ED), sometimes referred to as impotence, is the inability of a man to achieve or maintain an erection hard enough for sexual intercourse. Millions of men in the U.S. have erectile dysfunction. It may be caused by diseases, complications from surgery, side effects of certain medications, lifestyle factors, and psychological factors.

Erectile dysfunction can be treated at any age. Treatment depends on your overall health and the underlying cause of the problem. If erectile dysfunction is a problem for you, talk to your doctor. Significant strides have been made in the last decade for treating erectile dysfunction. There are a number of therapies to choose from today. Your doctor can help you choose the best and safest one.

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How to Talk to Your Doctor About ED

Having trouble getting an erection can be embarrassing. No man wants to admit that he can’t get it up. Some men are so embarrassed that they’re even reluctant to talk to their doctor about erectile dysfunction. That’s bad for several reasons. Erection difficulties can be an early warning sign of serious health problems, such as heart disease and diabetes. Erectile dysfunction can also be caused by certain medications, such as blood pressure drugs. And no matter what’s causing your erection problems,...

Read the How to Talk to Your Doctor About ED article > >

How Is Erectile Dysfunction Treated?

In some cases, simple lifestyle changes, such as losing weight, drinking less alcohol, or quitting smoking, may improve erectile dysfunction.

If the erectile dysfunction is caused by a certain medication, your doctor may suggest reducing the dose or trying an alternative drug. Certain blood pressure medications, allergy drugs, antidepressants, sedatives, appetite suppressants, and an ulcer drug called cimetidine may make it hard for a man to get a firm erection.

Most men with erectile dysfunction, however, will need further treatment. Treatment options for erectile dysfunction include:

  • Psychotherapy (counseling)
  • Medications (drug therapy)
  • Vacuum devices (pumps)
  • Surgery

Psychotherapy for Erectile Dysfunction

Talk therapy may be the initial treatment option for men with anxiety or stress-related erectile dysfunction. Relationship difficulties, work problems, financial woes, and other, everyday stressors can trigger erectile dysfunction. Talking about worries and stressors to a licensed therapist can ease sexual anxiety and provide strategies to boost intimacy. Usually only three to four sessions are needed. Including your partner in therapy can also be helpful.

Medications for Erectile Dysfunction

Men have different options in the types of drugs for ED. Medicines can be taken orally, inserted into the urethra, or injected into the penis.

The first medications usually prescribed to men with erectile dysfunction are called phosphodiesterase (PDE) type 5 inhibitors. These include:

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