Recent studies show erectile dysfunction (ED) is one of the most common medical problems, especially for men over 40. Fortunately, there has been an increase in the number of treatment options available for men diagnosed with this condition. Here, we look at five ways to treat ED.
- Shockwave therapy
Shockwave therapy for ED is fast becoming a go-for treatment option for many men as it promises long-term results. This therapy uses low-energy shock waves in several areas around the penis to improve blood flow and treat ED. Typically, treatment takes three weeks, and the patient is expected to have six to 15-minutes sessions twice a week. While improvements to this therapy have made it safer, its possible side effects include painful erection, bruising on the penile skin, blood in urine, and penile skin infection.
- Oral medication
Oral pills such as Viagra, Cialis, Stendra, and Levitra are often the first line of treatment for many men with ED. Their ready availability and ease of use have largely contributed to their popularity.
All these drugs are called phosphodiesterase-5 inhibitors, and they work by enhancing the effects of nitric oxide, a natural chemical that promotes muscle relaxation and vasodilation. This helps increase blood flow to the penis, allowing you to sustain an erection.
Possible side effects of using these pills include nasal congestion, stomach upset, headache, and visual changes. Some of these drugs can also be hazardous if you have low blood pressure or heart disease.
- Penile injections
Penile injections involve injecting a medicine at the base of your penis to help improve blood flow. Often, the first injection is provided at a clinic, and the doctor will guide you on how to self-inject when at home. Possible side effects of this treatment include erections that last longer than needed, pain or minor bleeding at the injection site, and scars within the deeper penile tissues after prolonged use.
- Testosterone replacement
Low testosterone levels, stress, and chronic cardiovascular conditions are among the primary contributors to ED. For this reason, your doctor might recommend testosterone replacement to help restore your testosterone levels, depending on your symptom profile.
Since this is not a single line of treatment, it is always offered alongside another ED treatment option. Possible side effects of this therapy include skin reaction/acne, enlarging breasts, worsening sleep apnea, limited sperm production, and increased risk of forming a blood clot due to overproduction of red blood cells.
- Alprostadil urethral suppository (MUSE)
MUSE (medicated urethral system for erection) is a recommended treatment option for those unwilling or unable to self-inject. Instead of a needle, you will use a suppository to insert a small drug pellet into the urethra. Similar to penile injections, this drug helps to improve blood flow, allowing the penis to achieve and maintain an erection. Potential side effects include a burning sensation or minor bleeding from the penis and a rapid heartbeat.
If you have ED, there are various treatment options available today, and to make the best treatment decision, it is advisable to consult with a doctor.