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Causes of Erectile Dysfunction
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Treating Erectile Dysfunction
There are a number of options available for the treatment of erectile dysfunction. These include medications, psychological counseling, surgery and the use of mechanical devices to aid erection.
a) Sildenafil (Viagra), Other similar medications
The approval by the FDA of Sildenafil (Viagra) in 1998 provided the first oral medication for the treatment of erectile dysfunction. Sildenafil enhances the effects of nitric oxide, which is a chemical that relaxes the muscles in the penis during sexual stimulation. The result is enhanced blood flow to the penis, enabling the ability to get and maintain an erection. Millions of men have benefited from this medication which is taken orally 30-60 minutes prior to sexual activity.
There are potential side effects for some men. As well, Sildenafil can interact negatively with some other medications. Your doctor will assess your condition prior to writing a prescription for Viagra. Viagra should be taken only once a day, in the correct dosage as determined by a physician.
b) Prostaglandin E (Alprostadil)
Alprostadil is a synthetic version of the hormone prostaglandin E. Prostaglandin E acts by aiding the relaxation of smooth muscle tissue in the penis. This, in turn, enhances blood flow to the penis, enabling an individual to get and maintain erection.
Alprostadil is taken in two ways. The first, needle injection therapy, uses a very fine needle to inject Alprostadil into the base or side of the penis. This injection is carried out shortly before sexual activity and lasts for approximately an hour in most men. Certain side effects can occur, such as the formation of fibrous tissue at or near the injection site and prolonged erection. The second, called self administered intraurethra therapy (medicated urethral system for erection - MUSE), involves the use of a disposable applicator to insert a very tiny suppository into the tip of the penis. The suppository is absorbed by the erectile tissue in the penis, increasing blood flow and causing erection. Side effects can include minor bleeding, formation of fibrous tissue and dizziness.
2) Hormone replacement therapy
This treatment is effective for those who present testosterone deficiency.
3) Vascular surgery
This treatment is commonly used to treat men who have blocked or hampered blood flow to the penis as a result of pelvic or penis injury, or to clear vascular blockages. The goal of this surgery is to enable blood flow to the penis to occur naturally.
4) Penile implants
Penile implants are inflatable devices or semi rigid rods made of silicone that are placed into two sides of the penis. The outcome is an ability to get and maintain an erection as often or for as long as desired. This method of treating erectile dysfunction is usually only offered as a last resort when other methods have failed.
5) Vacuum devices
External vacuums and tension rings (similar to rubber bands) can be used to achieve an erection. A hollow, plastic tube is placed over the penis and a hand pump is used to create a vacuum within the tube, pulling blood into the penis. Once the penis becomes erect, the tension ring is placed around the base of the penis in order to maintain the erection, after which the vacuum is removed. Slowly, the erection subsides, but usually slowly enough to enable sexual activity.
6) Psychological counseling
When non physical causes, such as stress, depression or anxiety, are the cause of erectile dysfunction, a doctor will likely suggest psychological counseling.
For more information about erectile dysfunction and it's treatment, read through the Mayo Clinic's erectile dysfunction pages. The National Institutes of Health offers excellent information about erectile dysfunction and it's causes and treatments.
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