Erection Problems (Erectile Dysfunction) - Treatment Overview
Treatment for an
erection problem (erectile dysfunction) depends on the
cause of the problem, which may be psychological, physical, or a combination of
both. Erection problems that have one or more major physical causes also often
have psychological factors that make the problem worse and make treatment more
Many doctors take a stepwise approach to treating
erection problems, using the least invasive treatments first. These steps
- Discovering and then eliminating
medicines that may be causing your condition. In
some cases, a different medicine can be tried.
- Trying testosterone or another treatment to fix a hormone problem if tests show you have one.
- Trying an oral
medicine. Medicines used for erection problems include
phosphodiesterase-5 inhibitors such as sildenafil
(Viagra), tadalafil (Cialis), and vardenafil (Levitra). One of these medicines
may be tried unless an easily treated cause-such as a medicine side effect or
testosterone deficiency-has been
- Getting counseling if a psychological cause is
- Trying medicines that are injected or inserted into the
- Trying a vacuum device.
- Trying penile implant
Counseling (also called psychotherapy) or behavioral
therapy may be appropriate even if your erection problem has a physical cause.
It may be offered if your health professional suspects psychological issues
play a role in your erection problems.
For more information on
treatment options, see:
- Erection Problems: Should I Take Medicine?
- Erection Problems: Should I Try Injection Treatments?
What to Think About
It is important to involve your
partner in your decision regardless of the treatment you choose.
Oral medicines have revolutionized the treatment of erection problems. And they are commonly tried first before other medicine or surgery.
Although phosphodiesterase-5 inhibitors have relatively few side effects,
they can be dangerous in certain men. If you are taking
nitrate-containing medicines, such as nitroglycerin,
you cannot use sildenafil (Viagra), tadalafil (Cialis), or vardenafil
(Levitra). You also should not take certain alpha-blockers-used to lower blood
pressure and to treat an enlarged
prostate gland-with these medicines because of the
risk of a dangerous drop in blood pressure. Check with your doctor
to see whether you can take sildenafil (Viagra), tadalafil (Cialis), or
vardenafil (Levitra) with your alpha-blocker.
overestimate how important being able to have erections is to their
relationships. Some men find that when they are able to have erections again,
the hassle of using the treatment is not worth the effort. Other men may find
that being able to have erections doesn't change their relationship as much as
they or their partners had expected.