Affecting 40% of men in their 40s and increasing by 10% per decade, erectile dysfunction, or ED, isn’t very widely discussed amongst men. Often viewed as a weakness or deficiency, ED affects a man at his most intimate and vulnerable times, leaving him feeling as though he has failed his partner. He may feel inadequate, and his significant other may feel undesirable or unwanted. The truth is that ED is typically caused by something beyond a man’s control, and there are treatment options available to help men suffering from ED take back that control and start feeling like themselves again.
What is Erectile Dysfunction (ED)?
Signs and Symptoms
Typical signs of ED can include the following experiences:
- Lack of arousal
- Inability to get erections
- Loss of firmness
- Loss of an erection during position changes or distraction
- Not waking with an erection
Causes and Diagnosis
Several factors can lead to ED, including other diseases, medications, trauma, neurological disorders, excessive alcohol consumption, drug abuse, and/or hormonal imbalances. These factors can result in issues with arterial blood flow to the penis, venous leakage from the balloons in the penis, nerve-related issues, or hypogonadism, which is commonly known as low testosterone.
Your doctor can diagnose ED from your answers to several simple questions. Men who experience mild-to-moderate ED should see their healthcare provider as soon as it becomes an issue. Once erectile dysfunction starts, regardless of cause, it affects men psychologically as well, so early diagnosis and treatment is the best plan of action.
NOTE: If you are unable to get an erection at all, you should see your healthcare provider as soon as possible to rule out other serious health conditions, such as those relating to the heart.
One of the first treatment plans is to decrease alcohol consumption. Increasing cardiovascular exercise, which increases blood flow to the heart and penis, and eating a diet that is leaner are also great first steps to treating ED.
If simple measures don’t work, over-the-counter medications are available, but patients tend to see mixed results. Prescription medications – PDE5 inhibitors such as Viagra and Cialis – typically improve ED with very minimal side effects, such as nasal congestion, head pressure, and heartburn. Be forewarned that a patient already taking nitroglycerin cannot take these medications. If these medications do not work, or if you are unable to take PDE5 inhibitors, an injectable solution called Tri-Mix can help attain erections. Typically, insurance does not cover these medications.
Additionally, electromagnetic therapy, or acoustic wave therapy, is a newer method being used to treat ED. A magnet creates sound waves, which improve blood flow to and leak from the penis. This treatment typically does not hurt, require no medication, and there is no downtime. One session usually takes 5-10 minutes. Patients typically need two sessions each week for 3 weeks, repeated 3 months later, then repeated as needed. Insurance does not cover sound wave treatments.
Another treatment is the Priapus Shot®. This injection involves drawing the patient’s blood and spinning it down to separate the cells. The platelets are injected into the penis shaft and head, restoring size lost to age and repairing blood flow. Many patients show an improvement in sensitivity as well. Results typically last 15 months, and combining this treatment with acoustic wave therapy lends the best results. Insurance does not cover this treatment.
For some men, none of these treatments will work. If you’ve tried these options and are still experiencing ED, contact a urologist to discuss next steps, including a penile implant.
The Optimum Mens Health Approach
At Optimum Mens Health, we provide an environment that feels safe and comfortable. Patients and their partners can discuss intimate issues without feeling judged. As a man, I relate personally to how difficult it is to come forward with an ailment I can’t fix myself.
I strive to help my patients find the ED treatment that is right for them, whether they are just starting this journey or have already tried treatments with mixed results. Considering each individual patient and his concerns, we decide the next course of action as a team.
At Optimum Mens Health, we offer all of the above-mentioned services, with the exception of penile implants.
Erectile dysfunction is a disease that can lead to anxiety and depression if left untreated. However mild it may be in the beginning, it usually progresses over time and with age. Taking action sooner rather than later can result in an easier and less costly treatment.
Finally, if you’re experiencing any signs of ED, make an appointment with your healthcare provider today.
UWHealth. Erective Dysfunction (ED).