When it comes to health issues of the sexual nature, both men and women can get shy about talking about it, even with a doctor. For men, erectile dysfunction is one of those health issues.
“Erectile dysfunction (ED) is a common urologic disease that can adversely affect self-confidence, relationships, and result in embarrassment,” says Dr. James Griffin, urologist for Advocate Medical Group in Elgin, IL, “The general public usually thinks ED is just because of aging, but it is a disease that affects males of all ages due to other factors.”
A few of the factors that can cause erectile dysfunction include medication side effects, diabetes, high blood pressure, sleep apnea, stress and cardiovascular disease. However, there are several treatment options to address ED, even though a popular misconception is that pills are the only option.
Dr. Griffin shares the top treatments he has recommended to his patients, based on their health history and symptoms:
- Oral medications: Oral medications are taken on an as needed basis, typically, 30-60 minutes before your desired erection.
- Muse (prostaglandin): This is a suppository, or a small, round or cone-shaped object, that is inserted into the urethra for erectile dysfunction. It dissolves locally within minutes, resulting in an erection.
- Self-administered injections: These injections are usually a combination of 1-3 medications that are directly injected into the erectile tissue located on the side of the penis close to the patient’s body. A very small needle is used with minimal discomfort, resulting in a normal erection within 5-10 minutes of the injection.
- Vacuum pumps: These cylindrical, mechanical devices are used to draw blood into the penis. A constricting ring is located at the base of the penis to help it maintain its size from the blood.
- Surgical intervention: This intervention is only considered if the above treatments were unsuccessful. Surgery involves implanting bendable or inflatable rod-like prosthesis into the two erectile chambers of the penis which are a spongy tissue that can fill with blood and grow the size of the penis. However, there is higher risk of complications compared to the non-surgical interventions.
“Regardless of the cause, most forms of erectile dysfunction can be treated successfully with minimally invasive treatment,” Dr. Griffin says. “If you think something is off the best is to schedule an appointment with your primary physician or urologist and not wait.”