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    New Erection Drugs on the Way

    Other Oral Alternatives continued...

    That hasn't stopped Nastech Pharmaceutical Co. Inc. from developing a nasal version of the drug. In a preliminary study, it helped men with several different kinds of erectile dysfunction -- and none of them passed out. Large-scale clinical trials are planned this year.

    Yohimbine is another popular nerve-blocking agent used to treat this problem. It's been available in the U.S. for many years, but carefully designed studies convincingly show that it isn't very effective in promoting normal erection and sexual performance.

    The amino acid arginine has been touted as a natural alternative to other erectile dysfunction drugs. When studied under rigorous conditions, though, results have been disappointing.

    What About Injections, Pumps, and Implants?

    For men who haven't had success with oral treatments, there are other alternatives.

    One highly effective treatment -- given by injection -- is called Caverject. This requires the man or his partner to inject the medicine into his penis near where it attaches to the body.

    Injecting medications into the penis can make some men cringe. In others, it is a difficult and discouraging process to go through. But for many it has meant the return of a satisfying sex life. The dosage of these injections has to be carefully adjusted for individual men. It is extremely dangerous to experiment with somebody else's injection prescription.

    There's also a system called MUSE (medicated transurethral system for erection). The man inserts a small pellet filled with the same medicine in Caverject directly into the urethra, the hole at the tip of the penis. Once inserted, the medication spreads through the penis tissues, producing an erection. As with injections, many men find this to be a highly satisfying means of restoring their sex lives.

    The major side effect of MUSE and Caverject is pain in the penis.

    Although it was once considered a last resort, vacuum constriction and external erection devices are actually preferred by a small number of erectile dysfunction sufferers. Most vacuum devices consist of a chamber in which the penis is inserted, a pump to create the vacuum that will draw blood into the penis, and constriction rings that are fastened over the base of the penis once it is erect.

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