Erectile Dysfunction Explained

What is Erectile Dysfunction

Erectile dysfunction relates to an individual's ability to achieve and maintain an erection long enough to enable sexual satisfaction. The same term applies to times when a man has a partial erection. In layman’s terms erectile dysfunction is called impotence.

There are many reasons why a man may have erectile dysfunction. It can be due to side effects of certain medications, hormonal changes, as a consequence of accidents or due to psychological factors including anxiety or depression. There are a range of treatments and lifestyle changes that an individual can use to treat erectile dysfunction. These differ depending on what is established as the underlying cause of the symptoms.

Underlying conditions and their treatments

Individuals whose erectile dysfunction is believed to be a result of an underlying condition are often recommended to first treat the condition in the hope of it also treating the erectile dysfunction. However, sometimes medications may cause the erectile dysfunction. This can be the case with appetite suppressants, blood pressure medications and anti-depressants. If other treatments are causing the erectile dysfunction, then considering a change of dosage or alternative treatments may be suitable.

Lifestyle changes that may help

General practitioners often recommend lifestyle changes that are likely to help ease erectile dysfunction. The recommendations generally centre around reducing harmful life style factors and increasing beneficial life style factors. Some examples include stopping smoking, not using harmful substances like cocaine and minimising alcohol consumption. Other examples mention the importance of exercising and managing stress.

Oral Medications

The most common medications used to treat erectile dysfunction are so-called PDE-5 inhibitors that work by increasing the blood flow to an individuals’ penis for a short period of time. The three most widely known treatments that use PDE-5 inhibitors go by the names Viagra, Cialis and Levitra and contain the following active ingredients respectively Sildenafil, Tadalafil and Vardenafil.

Preferably, these medications should be taken on an empty stomach and at least one hour before the sexual activity. Whilst Viagra and Levitra can last up to 8 hours, Cialis is known to last 36 hours. However, it is important to establish what type of treatment and dosage is suitable for an individual by considering their overall health and conditions. Some common side effects for PDE-5 inhibitors include headaches, runny nose, indigestion and muscle pain. However, other rare side effects such as a painful long-lasting erection or decreased vision require immediate medical attention. You can read more about the various treatments available at this online medical service website.

Medications that require injections

In the UK a treatment called Alprostadil is used to treat erectile dysfunction when PDE-5 inhibitors are not an appropriate option or are ineffective in a patient. Alprostadil is a hormone that works by stimulating bloodflow to the penis. It generally works after about 15 minutes of injection and can be injected either directly into the penis or via so-called urethra application. The erection may last for a long or a short time depending on the dosage. Some common side effects are headaches, penal pain and dizziness. As with PDE5 inhibitors, men may experience a prolonged painful erection, which will require immediate medical attention.

Please note that erectile dysfunction may be a marker for a serious underlying condition and we do not advocate self-diagnosis and treatment. Although there are reputable online doctor services, nothing can replace a good old fashioned face to face consultation with your GP.

If you are interested in further reading, we recommend this website