Erectile dysfunction is a condition in which men aren’t able to achieve or maintain an erection that allows them to have sexual intercourse.
Causes and Treatments for Erectile Dysfunction
Erectile dysfunction, also referred to as ED, is a condition in which men aren’t able to achieve or maintain an erection that allows them to have sexual intercourse. Some studies indicate over 50% of men above the age of 40 experience some degree of ED.
There are many causes of ED, in which blood flow to the penis is limited or restricted. These causes can include heart disease, diabetes, side effects of some medications, and a variety of other factors. ED can affect men of any age or ethnicity.
At Hennepin Healthcare, we have a team of urologists that are experts in evaluating ED and working with you to develop treatment options that will effectively treat your ED and improve your quality of life.
Treatments typically start with trials of medications, like Viagra and Cialis, to see if they are effective in treating your ED. If medications alone are not enough to provide adequate results, there are several other options that are available.
- Vacuum Devices
These devices offer a non-invasive approach to achieving an erection. An external pump pulls blood into the penis and a tension band is applied at the base of the penis to maintain an erection for up to 30 minutes.
- Penile Injections
Injections can be made into the base of side of the penis to stimulate an erection, typically within 5 – 20 minutes. There are limitations of the frequency of injections.
- Implanted Devices
These devices are implanted surgically and consist of a reservoir, which is placed in the abdomen, and two fluid-filled cylinders within the penis. Squeezing a pump, implanted in the scrotum, fills the cylinders, causing an erection.Our urology team will focus on assessing your unique situation and developing treatment options that best fit your lifestyle and individual needs. To schedule a consultation, call 612-873-6963.
Erectile Dysfunction Myths
Erectile dysfunction (ED) is a common problem and remains a taboo topic that men don’t like to discuss. ED can be an early sign of a more serious health condition like diabetes or heart disease. In the interest of debunking myths about ED, talk to your doctor about any changes in the ability to get or maintain an erection.
ED can be an early sign of a serious health problem – potential high blood pressure, diabetes or heart disease. In order to have an erection, a man needs to have healthy blood vessels and nerves. Diabetes is a disease that attacks blood vessels and nerves so it is common for men with diabetes to experience ED. Likewise, if blood vessels are blocked by coronary artery disease it can limit the flow of blood to various parts of the body. The arteries supplying blood to the penis are much smaller than the ones supplying blood to the heart. As a result, heart disease may first show itself as difficulty achieving an erection.
ED is not an inevitable part of aging; it is contingent on your health and lifestyle. That is why it is important to identify the underlying issues that could be causing ED.
Men tend to think that if they can get an erection, they do not have ED. The reality is, ED can present itself as erections that cannot be maintained or in erections that aren't firm enough.
The first step to treating ED is identifying the underlying issues that could be causing it. Once more serious conditions are ruled out; medication is usually the first line of therapy. However, up to 50 percent of men with ED do not respond to pharmaceutical treatments and require a different option, especially men with diabetes and heart disease. Other treatment options include:
- Injections: A needle is used to inject medication directly into the penis. The medication allows blood to flow into the penis, creating an erection.
- Vacuum Erection Devices: A plastic cylinder is placed over the penis, and a pump (manual or battery operated) creates a vacuum suction within it, drawing blood into the penis to create an erection. A stretchable tension band placed at the base of the penis helps maintain the erection.
- Intraurethral Suppositories: An applicator containing a small pellet is inserted into the urethra and the pellet is released. The pellet dissolves and increases blood flow to the penis, creating an erection.
- Penile Implants: A medical device is implanted in the penis, contained entirely within the body that allows direct control of both the timing and duration of an erection.
While depression or anxiety can cause ED, the condition most often has a physical cause. Some depression medications may bring on ED. However, suddenly stopping antidepressants is very dangerous and the issue should be resolved with a doctor.
- Jackson G, Rosen RC, Kloner RA, et al. The second Princeton consensus on sexual dysfunction and cardiac risk: new guidelines for sexual medicine. J Sex Med. 2006 Jan;3(1):28-36.
- VIAGRA™ Prescribing Information. Pfizer Inc. Revised January 2010:8-9.
- CIALIS™ Prescribing Information. Lilly USA, LLC. Revised 2011:18-20.
- LEVITRA™ Prescribing Information. Bayer HealthCare Pharmaceuticals Inc. 2011:19-20.
- Walsh TJ, Hotaling JM, Smith A, et al. Men with diabetes may require more aggressive treatment for erectile dysfunction. Int J Impot Res. 2014 May-June;26(3):112-5.
- Shabsigh R, Lue TF. A Clinician’s Guide to ED Management. New York: Haymarket Media Inc.; 2006.
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