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.
Being unable to have or keep an erection adequate for sexual activity is the defining mark of erectile dysfunction. The problem may manifest itself in several ways. If the dysfunction:
Is transient or appearing only occasionally, the problem is not likely to be serious; all men experience problems with erections at some time in their lives.
Develops gradually and persistently, there is probably a physical cause; this is generally the case with chronic impotence.
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:
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: