ED isn’t just a natural part of aging that you’re stuck accepting. Guys with ED have several erectile dysfunction treatment options to consider, depending on the reason for their ED. The sooner you learn about ED treatment alternatives, the sooner you can go back to sharing and enjoying intimate moments with your significant other.
Erectile Dysfunction Diagnosis
There are many different body parts that play an important role for a man to get and maintain an erection during sexual intercourse. Beyond the physical causes that can lead to ED, it has been reported that 20% of ED is related to psychological causes.2 With so many possibilities leading to erectile dysfunction, it becomes particularly important to find a specialist who can correctly diagnosis the direct cause of your ED and find a treatment option that is right for you.
Often, a physical exam and a discussion regarding medical history will be enough to diagnosis erectile dysfunction and start you on your treatment pathway.22 As discussed in the “Causes of ED” page however, there can be many different underlying reasons that have led to ED, and additional tests may be needed to determine the exact cause.
Tests to determine cause of ED:22
- Physical Exam – an examination of the testicles and penis while also checking nerves for sensation.
- Blood Tests – Can help to identify signs of heart disease, diabetes, low testosterone, diabetes and other health issues.
- Urine Tests – Similar to a blood test, can help identify diabetes or other potential causes.
- Ultra Sound – This test is usually conducted by a specialist to determine if there is a lack of blood flow which is preventing you from getting an erection.
There are many different treatment options for erectile dysfunction but your individual diagnosis will determine which treatment option is right for you. It is important to realize that not all treatment options will work for everyone. A doctor who has specialized in men’s sexual health (typically a urologist) will be the most qualified to discuss all of your treatment options with you. Many specialists will often encourage you to schedule additional follow up appointments to review how your treatment is working for you or if a different option may be more beneficial.
Erectile Dysfunction Treatment Options
When you make an appointment to discuss ED with your doctor, he’ll go over your options and help you decide what’s best for your unique situation. He might suggest making lifestyle changes, trying drug therapy, or getting a penile implant.21
The same healthy lifestyle tips your doctor has been recommending for years may also help treat your ED:21
- Quitting smoking
- Reducing alcohol consumption
- Losing weight
- Exercising regularly
- Reducing stress
These steps aren’t an instant fix, but they may improve your blood flow and nerve functioning. If you’re having trouble sticking to these goals, ask your spouse or partner to join you. Getting healthy together and trying new things as a couple can be a great bonding experience and can strengthen your relationship.
When lifestyle changes alone don’t work, drug therapy (Viagra®, Cialis®, Levitra®, etc.) is normally the next step. Most of these medications work similarly to enhance a natural chemical in your body that relaxes the muscles in your penis. The goal of this medication is to increase your response to sexual stimulation by increasing the blood flow in your penis allowing you to get an erection.22
With drug therapy, there’s a risk of side effects such as headaches, back pain or an upset stomach. Before taking any medication for erectile dysfunction it is important to ensure your doctor is ok with that decision. Medication may not work for all men, for instance, if you have diabetes or have previously had prostate surgery. ED medication might also have serious risks if you’re currently taking nitrates (commonly prescribed for chest pain), have heart disease or have low blood pressure.22
In addition to pills, injections can be used to treat ED. Erections usually occur within 5-20 minutes, but there is the risk of an erection lasting longer than 4 hours and often has poor long-term tolerability.23
Urethral suppositories can also be used to treat ED. An applicator containing a small pellet (suppository) is inserted in the urethra and the pellet is released. Common side effects include pain or minor bleeding in the urethra.22
Also called vacuum devices, penile pumps are devices that are placed over the penis to draw blood into the shaft. Once the vacuum creates an erection, the retaining band is slid down to the lower end of the penis and the pump is removed. An erection typically will last long enough for intercourse but your penis may be cold to the touch and the rubber band may restrict ejaculation.22
Treating Erectile Dysfunction with Penile Implants
When other treatments haven’t helped, a penile implant may be the right solution. A penile implant is a medical device that is surgically placed into a penis to mimic the look and performance of a natural erection9. Implants are custom-fitted to your anatomy. Sensitivity and the ability to ejaculate aren’t typically affected either, so you’ll be able to have an orgasm normally (unless you have a medical condition that prevents this)7.
To learn about erectile dysfunction alternatives like the Coloplast Titan® penile implant, visit our Penile Implants page. To arrange to speak with a man who has had the procedure about the impact of having an implant, head over to our Patient Educator page.
Insurance Coverage for ED Treatment
Every policy is a little different, but most insurance providers do offer some form of coverage for ED treatment. Penile implants, for example, are covered by most insurers and Medicare when they are determined to be medically necessary for a man who has not responded to other treatment alternatives.
Our Insurance page outlines some of the steps you can take to learn more about out-of-pocket cost for treating ED. The reimbursement specialist at your urologist’s office might also be able to help you sort out the specifics of your coverage.