Erectile Dysfunction: Treatment Options
There are a variety of methods for treating ED. The sooner you learn about ED treatment alternatives, the sooner you can go back to sharing and enjoying intimate moments with your partner.
What is the typical procedure to fix ED?
Erectile Dysfunction Treatment Options
When you make an appointment to discuss ED with your doctor or nurse, they will discuss your options and help you decide what’s best for your unique situation. Your treatment options may include:1
- Lifestyle changes like: stopping smoking, losing weight and eating healthier
- Oral medication
- Injecting medication directly into the penis
- Intraurethral suppositories
- medical grade vacuum devices
Some men may find the treatment options listed above are unsuitable for them due to medical conditions, or the treatment option may be ineffective or not tolerated. In this case, a penile implant may be an appropriate option.
The same healthy lifestyle tips your doctor or nurse has been recommending for years may also help treat your ED:2
- Quitting smoking
- Reducing alcohol consumption
- Losing weight
- Exercising regularly
- Reducing stress
These steps are not an instant fix, but they may improve your blood flow and nerve functioning. If you are having trouble sticking to these goals, ask your spouse or partner to join you. Getting healthy together and trying new things as a couple can be a great bonding experience and can strengthen your relationship. Read our tips & bits of advice for couples in our dedicated article.
When lifestyle changes alone don’t work, drug therapy is normally the next step. Most of these medications work similarly to enhance a natural chemical in your body that relaxes the muscles in your penis. The goal of this medication is to increase your response to sexual stimulation by increasing the blood flow in your penis allowing you to achieve an erection.3
With drug therapy, there’s a risk of side effects such as headaches, back pain or an upset stomach. Before taking any medication for erectile dysfunction, it is important to ensure your doctor is ok with that decision. Medication may not work for all men, for instance, if you have diabetes or have previously had prostate surgery. ED medication might also have serious risks if you are currently taking nitrates (commonly prescribed for chest pain), have heart disease or have low blood pressure.3
Besides pills, injections can treat ED. Erections usually occur within 5-20 minutes, but there is the risk of an erection lasting longer than 4 hours and often has poor long-term tolerability.4
Urethral suppositories can also treat ED. An applicator containing a small pellet (suppository) is inserted in the urethra, and the pellet is released. Common side effects include pain or minor bleeding in the urethra.3
Also called vacuum devices, penile pumps are devices placed over the penis to draw blood into the shaft. Once the vacuum creates an erection, the retaining band is slid down to the base of the penis, and the pump is removed. An erection typically will last long enough for intercourse but your penis may be cold to the touch, and the rubber band may restrict ejaculation.3 The rubber ring should not be left in place for longer than half an hour, as this, left any length of time longer than this, could result in complications.
When other treatments haven’t helped, a penile implant may be the right solution. A penile implant is a medical device surgically placed into a penis to provide the look and performance of a natural erection.5 Implants are custom-fitted to your anatomy. Sensitivity and the ability to ejaculate are not typically affected either, so you’ll be able to have an orgasm normally (unless you have a medical condition that prevents this).6
Talk to your doctor or nurse to understand the causes
1: Erectile dysfunction. NIH: National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/urologic-diseases/erectile-dysfunction
4: Caverject™ Prescribing information. Pharmacia & Upjohn Company. Revised October 2016.
5: Data on file with Coloplast
6: Dealing with Erectile Dysfunction. UCLA Urology. http://urology.ucla.edu/dealing-with-erectile-dysfunction. Accessed September 2007.