For many men, a physical exam and answering questions (medical history) are all that’s needed for a doctor to diagnose erectile dysfunction and recommend a treatment. If you have chronic health conditions or your doctor suspects that an underlying condition might be involved, you might need further tests or a consultation with a specialist.
Tests for underlying conditions might include:
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 (urinalysis). 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 wandlike device (transducer) 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.
This test is sometimes done in combination with an injection of medications into the penis to stimulate blood flow and produce an erection.
Psychological exam. Your doctor might ask questions to screen for depression and other possible psychological causes of erectile dysfunction.
Solution Manager for Erectile Dysfunction in Penis Prosthesis?
The first thing your doctor will do is to make sure you’re getting the right treatment for any health conditions that could be causing or worsening your erectile dysfunction.
Depending on the cause and severity of your erectile dysfunction and any underlying health conditions, you might have various treatment options. Your doctor can explain the risks and benefits of each treatment and will consider your preferences. Your partner’s preferences also might play a role in your treatment choices.
Oral medications are a successful erectile dysfunction treatment for many men. They include:
Tadalafil (Adcirca, Cialis)
Vardenafil (Levitra, Staxyn)
All four 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 (angina) — such as nitroglycerin (Minitran, Nitro-Dur, Nitrostat, others), isosorbide mononitrate (Monoket) and isosorbide dinitrate (Dilatrate-SR, Isordil)
Have heart disease or heart failure
Have very low blood pressure (hypotension)
Other medications for erectile dysfunction include:
Alprostadil self-injection. With this method, you use a fine needle to inject alprostadil (Caverject Impulse, Edex) into the base or side of your penis. In some cases, medications generally used for other conditions are used for penile injections on their own or in combination. Examples include papaverine, alprostadil and phentolamine. Often these combination medications are known as bimix (if two medications are included) or trimix (if three are included).
Each injection is dosed to create an erection lasting no longer than an hour. Because the needle used is very fine, pain from the injection site is usually minor.
Side effects can include mild bleeding from the injection, prolonged erection (priapism) and, rarely, formation of fibrous tissue at the injection site.
Alprostadil urethral suppository. Alprostadil intraurethral (Muse) therapy involves placing a tiny alprostadil suppository inside your penis in the penile urethra. You use a special applicator to insert the suppository into your penile urethra.
The erection usually starts within 10 minutes and, when effective, lasts between 30 and 60 minutes. Side effects can include pain, minor bleeding in the urethra and formation of fibrous tissue inside your penis.
Testosterone replacement. Some men have erectile dysfunction that might be complicated by low levels of the hormone testosterone. In this case, testosterone replacement therapy might be recommended as the first step or given in combination with other therapies
Penis Pumps, Surgery and Implants
A battery-powered penis pump
Battery-powered penis pump for erectile dysfunction
If medications aren’t effective or appropriate in your case, your doctor might recommend a different treatment. Other treatments include:
Penis pumps. A penis pump (vacuum erection device) is a hollow tube with a hand-powered or battery-powered pump. The tube is placed over your penis, and then the pump is used to suck out the air inside the tube. This creates a vacuum that pulls blood into your penis.
Once you get an erection, you slip a tension ring around the base of your penis to hold in the blood and keep it firm. You then remove the vacuum device.
The erection typically lasts long enough for a couple to have sex. You remove the tension ring after intercourse. Bruising of the penis is a possible side effect, and ejaculation will be restricted by the band. Your penis might feel cold to the touch.
If a penis pump is a good treatment choice for you, your doctor might recommend or prescribe a specific model. That way, you can be sure it suits your needs and that it’s made by a reputable manufacturer.
Penile implants. This treatment involves surgically placing devices into both sides of the penis. These implants consist of either inflatable or malleable (bendable) rods. Inflatable devices allow you to control when and how long you have an erection. The malleable rods keep your penis firm but bendable.
Penile implants are usually not recommended until other methods have been tried first. Implants have a high degree of satisfaction among men who have tried and failed more-conservative therapies. As with any surgery, there’s a risk of complications, such as infection.
Recent studies have found that exercise, especially moderate to vigorous aerobic activity, can improve erectile dysfunction. However, benefits might be less in some men, including those with established heart disease or other significant medical conditions.
Even less strenuous, regular exercise might reduce the risk of erectile dysfunction. Increasing your level of activity might also further reduce your risk.
Discuss an exercise plan with your doctor.
If your erectile dysfunction is caused by stress, anxiety or depression — or the condition is creating stress and relationship tension — your doctor might suggest that you, or you and your partner, visit a psychologist or counselor.
Before using any supplement, check with your doctor to make sure it’s safe for you — especially if you have chronic health conditions. Some alternative products that claim to work for erectile dysfunction can be dangerous.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued warnings about several types of “herbal viagra” because they contain potentially harmful drugs not listed on the label. The dosages might also be unknown, or they might have been contaminated during formulation.
Some of these drugs can interact with prescription drugs and cause dangerously low blood pressure. These products are especially dangerous for men who take nitrates.
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Lifestyle and home remedies
For many men, erectile dysfunction is caused or worsened by lifestyle choices. Here are some steps that might help:
If you smoke, quit. If you have trouble quitting, get help. Try nicotine replacement, such as over-the-counter gum or lozenges, or ask your doctor about a prescription medication that can help you quit.
Lose excess pounds. Being overweight can cause — or worsen — erectile dysfunction.
Include physical activity in your daily routine. Exercise can help with underlying conditions that play a part in erectile dysfunction in a number of ways, including reducing stress, helping you lose weight and increasing blood flow.
Get treatment for alcohol or drug problems. Drinking too much or taking certain illegal drugs can worsen erectile dysfunction directly or by causing long-term health problems.
Work through relationship issues. Consider couples counseling if you’re having trouble improving communication with your partner or working through problems on your own
Coping and support
Whether the cause is physical, psychological or a combination of both, erectile dysfunction can become a source of mental and emotional stress for you and your partner. Here are some steps you can take:
Don’t assume you have a long-term problem. Don’t view occasional erection problems as a reflection on your health or masculinity, and don’t automatically expect to have erection trouble again during your next sexual encounter. This can cause anxiety, which might make erectile dysfunction worse.
Involve your sexual partner. Your partner might see your inability to have an erection as a sign of diminished sexual interest. Your reassurance that this isn’t the case can help. Communicate openly and honestly about your condition. Treatment is often more successful when a man involves his partner.
Don’t ignore stress, anxiety or other mental health concerns. Talk to your doctor or consult a mental health provider to address these issues.
Preparing for your Appointment
You’re likely to start by seeing your family doctor or a general practitioner. Depending on your particular health concerns, you might go directly to a specialist — such as a doctor who specializes in male genital problems (urologist) or a doctor who specializes in the hormonal systems (endocrinologist).
Because appointments can be brief and there’s often a lot of ground to cover, it’s a good idea to be well-prepared. Here’s some information to help you get ready and know what to expect from your doctor.
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Penile implants are devices placed inside the penis to allow men with erectile dysfunction (ED) to get an erection. Penile implants are typically recommended after other treatments for ED fail.
There are two main types of penile implants, semirigid and inflatable. Each type of penile implant works differently and has various pros and cons.
The placement of penile implants requires surgery. Before choosing penile implants, make sure you understand what surgery involves, including possible risks, complications and follow-up care.
Why it’s done
For most men, erectile dysfunction can be successfully treated with medications or use of a penis pump (vacuum constriction device). You might consider penile implants if you aren’t a candidate for other treatments or you can’t get an erection sufficient for sexual activity by using other methods.
Penile implants can also be used to treat severe cases of a condition that causes scarring inside the penis, leading to curved, painful erections (Peyronie’s disease).
Penile implants aren’t for everyone. Your doctor might caution against penile implants if you have:
- ED that’s situational, the result of a relationship conflict or potentially reversible
- An infection, such as a pulmonary infection or urinary tract infection
- Diabetes that isn’t well-controlled
Keep in mind that while penile implants allow men to get an erection, they don’t increase sexual desire or sensation. Most penile implants also won’t make your penis any larger than it naturally is at the time of surgery. In fact, your erect penis might be slightly shorter than it used to be.
Types of penile implants
There are two main types of penile implants:
- Inflatable implants. Inflatable devices, the most common type of penile implant used, can be inflated to create an erection and deflated at other times. Three-piece inflatable implants use a fluid-filled reservoir implanted under the abdominal wall, a pump and a release valve placed inside the scrotum, and two inflatable cylinders inside the penis.To achieve an erection, you pump the fluid from the reservoir into the cylinders. Afterward, you release the valve inside the scrotum to drain the fluid back into the reservoir. The two-piece model works in a similar way, but the fluid reservoir is part of the pump implanted in the scrotum.
- Semirigid rods. Semirigid devices are always firm. The penis can be bent away from the body for sexual activity and toward the body for concealment.A positionable penile implant is a semirigid device with a central series of segments held together with a spring on each end. It can maintain upward and downward positions better than other semirigid rods can.
Other special designs can fit a shortened penis, or one that’s larger than average. Some inflatable penile implants are also available with antibiotic coatings, which might help reduce the risk of infection.
Comparing implant types
When choosing which type of penile implant is right for you, consider your personal preference and your medical history. Your doctor might suggest one type of design over another based on your age, risk of infection, and health conditions, injuries or medical treatments you’ve had in the past.
|Type of penile implant||Pros||Cons|
|Three-piece inflatable|| || |
|Two-piece inflatable|| || |
|Semirigid rod|| || |
Before penile implant surgery you might also need to:
- Avoid certain medications. Your doctor might recommend that you temporarily stop taking aspirin and anti-inflammatory drugs, which can increase your risk of bleeding.
- Arrange for a ride home. Ask your doctor when you’ll be able to go home after surgery. Penile implant surgery typically involves an overnight stay.
- Limit food and liquids. Don’t eat or drink anything after midnight before your surgery, or follow specific instructions from your doctor.
Before the procedure
Penile implant surgery is usually done at a surgery center or hospital. Your doctor might give you medication to make you unconscious during the surgery (general anesthesia) or medication that blocks pain in the lower part of your body (spinal anesthesia).
Your doctor will give you IV antibiotics to help prevent infection. The surgery site will also be shaved immediately before surgery to reduce the risk of infection.