If you’re suffering from Erectile Dysfunction, you’re not alone. In fact, it’s a common dysfunction among men. The good news is that in many cases treatment of an underlying health condition can reverse it.
While many people may find it embarrassing to talk about ED, understanding the symptoms and causes is the first step to a better sex life. We talk with patients every day about ED and take significant time in individualizing a treatment plan just right for our men.
What is Erectile Dysfunction?
Erectile Dysfunction is the inability to maintain a firm enough erection to have sex. Though it’s normal for men to have problems with erections from time to time, if satisfactory sexual performance has been impossible on a number of occasions and ED happens routinely with sex it should be further investigated and then treated.
When suffering from ED, men experience trouble getting an erection or holding it firm for a long enough period of time to penetrate. As a result, feelings of guilt and embarrassment develop and can lead to a reduced sex drive and low self-esteem.
Blood vessels, muscles, nerves, and hormones work together to create an erection. If this process is disrupted in any way, the symptoms of ED occur. Thus, as you can see, ED is a complex condition. The cause behind it can be physical or emotional and often there’s more than one factor that’s responsible for ED. In healthcare, we call that “multi-factorial.”
- Heart disease
- Metabolic syndrome
- Parkinson’s disease
- Multiple sclerosis (MS)
- A brain or spinal cord injury
- Chronic kidney disease
- Nerve disorders
- Hypogonadism (a condition where the body doesn’t make enough testosterone)
- Peyronie’s disease (scar tissue inside the penis)
- Sleep disorders
- Anxiety around sex and intimacy
- Relationship Problems
There are several ways to treat Erectile Dysfunction once we understand the reason behind it.
Resolving the underlying condition is the key to recovery. The treatments include:
Oral medications are often the first line of treatment for erectile dysfunction. A group of drugs called PDE-5 (phosphodiesterase-5) inhibitors are prescribed by a provider and can be taken 30-60 minutes prior to sex. Even though taking drugs works well for most men, due to their side effects they are not recommended for people who have any underlying condition or who are at risk of heart attack or stroke.
For men who do not respond to these medications taken by mouth, there are alternatives. Your provider, working with a specialized pharmacist can safely formulate a combination of two, three, or four medications together in an individualized ration that a man can inject in the penis about 30 minutes prior to intercourse. This compounded medication is often referred to as “Tri-Mix” and provides a satisfactory and robust erection.
Surgical treatment is the last resort when nothing else works. An inflatable device is surgically implanted and men can activate the prosthesis on demand. Rarely, surgeons attempt to correct some blood vessel causes of ED. . Recovery time varies, but success rates are high.
Dietary and alternative treatment
Nitric Oxide Supplements
Nitric oxide is needed for the muscles in the penis to relax and fill with blood to produce an erection.
Studies show that supplements such as L-citrulline, L-arginine, and French maritime pine bark extract, help to increase levels of nitric oxide in men with erectile dysfunction.
A study from 1996 clearly showed the connection between zinc and testosterone levels. In the course of a low zinc diet participants developed a significant testosterone deficit. Researchers also showed that testosterone levels in the elderly population almost doubled with increased zinc intake.
A 2009 study also showed that zinc has a positive effect on arousal and maintaining an erection. Treating rats with 5 milligrams per day of zinc supplementation resulted in better sexual function and prolongation of ejaculatory latency.
Erectile Dysfunction is very complex. To resolve it we need to get to the bottom of the problem and find what is behind it. If you experience the symptoms of ED continuously for over 2 months, reach out to your provider to find the best solution for you. We also love to work with patients struggling with ED at Central Drug and formulate individualized treatment plans.