As you will already know, erectile dysfunction is the inability to get and keep an erection firm enough for sex. Having erection trouble from time to time is not necessarily a cause for concern. If erectile dysfunction is an ongoing issue, however, it can cause stress, affect your self confidence and contribute to relationship problems.
Problems getting or keeping an erection can also be a sign of underlying health condition that needs treatment and a risk factor for heart disease. If you are concerned about erectile dysfunction, talk to your doctor – even if you are embarrassed. Sometimes, treating an underlying condition is enough to reverse erectile dysfunction. In other cases, medications or other direct treatments might be needed.
What are my options?
- Physical Exam: This might include careful examination of your penis and testicles and checking your nerves for sensation.
- Blood Tests: A sample of your blood might be sent to a lab to check for signs of heart disease, diabetes, low testosterone levels and other health conditions.
- Urine Tests: Like blood tests, urine tests are used to look for signs of diabetes and other underlying health conditions.
- Ultrasound: This test is usually performed by a specialist in an office. It involves using a wand like device held over the blood vessels that supply the penis. It creates a video image to let your doctor see if you have blood flow problems.
- Psychological exam: Your doctor might ask questions to screen for depression and other possible psychological causes of erectile dysfunction.
Oral medications are a successful erectile dysfunction treatment for many men. All well-known medications enhance the effects of nitric oxide – a natural chemical your body produces that relaxes muscles in the penis. This increases blood flow and allows you to get an erection in response to sexual stimulation. Taking one of these tablets will not automatically produce an erection. Sexual stimulation is needed first to cause the release of nitric oxide from your penile nerves. These medications amplify that signal, allowing some men to function normally.
Oral erectile dysfunction medications are not aphrodisiacs, will not cause excitement and are not needed in men who get normal erections. The medications vary in dosage, how long they work and side effects. Possible side effects include flushing, nasal congestion, headache, visual changes, backache and stomach upset.
Your doctor will consider your particular situation to determine which medication might work best. These medications might not treat your erectile dysfunction immediately. You might need to work with your doctor to find the right medication and dosage for you.
Before taking any medication for erectile dysfunction, including over the counter supplements and herbal remedies, get your doctor’s ok. Medications for erectile dysfunction do not work in all men and might be less effective in certain conditions, such as after prostate surgery or if you have diabetes.
Some medications might also be dangerous if you:
- Take nitrate drugs – commonly prescribed for chest pain – such as nitro-glycerine, isosorbide mononitrate and isosorbide dinitrate.
- Have heart disease or heart failure
- Have very low blood pressure