Exploring Erectile Dysfunction Treatment Options
Upon noticing a recurrent inability to achieve or maintain an erection, only about 25% of men will seek erectile dysfunction treatment for their ED symptoms. Without treatment, erectile dysfunction can wreak havoc on your mental health and overall sense of well-being. Anxiety and depression, for example, are frequently diagnosed in individuals suffering with ED symptoms. Furthermore, without seeking a diagnosis and treatment, you leave yourself susceptible to complications caused by any underlying conditions you may have.
With so many erectile dysfunction treatment options available today, it can be hard to decide on a treatment option. Here’s all you need to know about resolving your ED symptoms and regaining control over your well-being.
Underlying Cause Resolution
With cardiovascular-linked medical problems cited as a common cause of erectile dysfunction, it is incredibly important to have all underlying conditions treated on your journey toward ED symptom relief. Acquiring treatment for the underlying causes can decrease the duration and severity of your erectile dysfunction symptoms, but it will not always fully resolve the problem.
Erectile Dysfunction Treatments
Doctors can utilize a number of traditional erectile dysfunction cures to halt or reverse your inability to produce and maintain an erection. The traditional treatments rely on the delivery of medications by oral administration, injection or urethral suppositories. The medications draw blood into the erectile tissues to ensure you can achieve and maintain an erection.
Vacuum Therapy: Vacuum therapy systems are a natural ED treatment with an efficacy rate of over 90%. It’s the safest treatment option on the market, being a conservative, non-invasive option for ED treatment. The penis is inserted into a negative pressure chamber, pressed against the body to form a seal. The pump creates a vacuum inside the chamber that draws blood into the penis, causing a natural erection. A tension system ensures that the erection is maintained, and can be left in place for 25 to 30 minutes. Vacuum therapy systems are also the least expensive treatment option, and in many cases the patient’s actual cost is under $200.
Practice is key for successful use of a vacuum therapy device. With some practice and instruction, patients will be able to produce an erection in about 90 seconds. Vacuum therapy systems are also compatible with all other treatments: using one properly can improve performance from medication, improves the effectiveness of therapy, and can prepare a patient for an implant or other surgical treatment.
Oral Medication: Possibly the best-known treatment option, medications used to treat ED include selective enzyme inhibitors sildenafil, vardenafil HCI, and tadalafil. Medications are typically taken up to once a day to treat ED, and can help to improve partial erections. However, there are some major downsides to medication, including the high cost involved, the possible side effects, and the fact that patients with certain medical conditions (high blood pressure, liver disease, kidney disease, etc.) may not be able to take medication at all. For those who do, the results vary from person to person.
Patients who have had a heart attack or stroke within the past 6 months should not take oral medications for erectile dysfunction. Side effects often include: headaches, flushing, indigestion, nasal congestion, muscle aches, back pain, vision distortion, and priapism.
Penile Implants: Penile implants are malleable or inflatable rods or tubes that are surgically inserted into the penis. The rods are typically a silicon-covered, flexible prosthesis that provides the necessary rigidity for intercourse, and enough curvature to be concealed with the right clothing. A penile implant can also take the form of an inflatable penis prosthesis made up of two soft silicone or bioflex tubes, with a small pump in the scrotum and a reservoir in the abdomen. The pump can be activated by squeezing the scrotum, inflating the prosthesis. The surgical procedure is relatively simple, but can result in complications, is more invasive than other treatments, and can be difficult to conceal in some circumstances.
Injection Therapy: Self-injection involves delivering medicine through the side of the penis and directly into the corpus cavernosum. This produces an erection that can last between 30 minutes and several hours. The drugs used cause vascular dilation and the relaxation of smooth muscle. Vasoactive drugs include muscle relaxants, papaverine, alprostadil (prostaglandin), and phentolamine. Alprostadil is the only substance that the FDA has approved for ED treatment. Possible side effects of injection therapy include: bruising, priapism, infection, bleeding, dizziness, and heart palpitations. Repeated injections can cause scarring, which can impair erections.
Urethral Suppositories: The suppository can be used as an alternative to injection, and uses a handheld delivery device to insert an alprostadil pellet through the opening of the penis and into the urethra. The alprostadil is absorbed through the urethral mucosa and into the erectile tissues. It’s a well-tolerated treatment, but comes with the possible side effects of penile pain, irritation of the urethra, and priapism.
Psychotherapy: While today we understand that more than 80% of ED cases are organic or physical in nature, some cases can be attributed to psychological causes. Counseling and sex therapy can be very effective in those cases, helping to treat anxiety and PTSD when those components are present. Having a physical case of ED can also have some psychological impacts on patients, and seeking counseling can be very helpful.
Erectile Dysfunction Treatment Costs
The costs of ED treatment vary from treatment to treatment significantly. Here’s a full breakdown of the treatments covered above, in order of invasiveness:
Psychotherapy: Several thousand dollars on average covering the course of therapy sessions
Vacuum Therapy: $199-650 (one time cost, additional tensions systems as needed)
Oral Medication: $1,700/year on average
Injection Therapy: $2,400/year on average
Urethral Suppositories: $2,300/year on average
Penile Implant Surgery: $5,000-20,000
Acquiring Erectile Dysfunction Cures
Since erectile dysfunction is a complex medical condition, you may need to combine treatment approaches to fully mitigate your symptoms. You can work with your doctor to determine the best way to approach the treatment process for your symptom severity and underlying complications.