Non-surgical Management of Erectile Dysfunction
The inability to achieve and/or maintain an erection that is enough to obtain sexual function is medically termed as erectile dysfunction or ED. Considered as one of the most common sexual problems that men suffer from with age, erectile dysfunction is estimated to affect around 30 million men in America alone.
Although some men may only have occasional problems with their erection, other men will have regular and serious problems with their erection. Besides causing some strain on marriage and other intimate relationships, erectile dysfunction also brings about low self-confidence, stress, depression, and even performance anxieties.
How One Gets an Erection
Simple as it may seem, getting an erection is actually a complex process and it involves a lot of systems working altogether. Here's a simple way of explaining how erection occurs:
The penis is normally limp and soft when a man is not sexually aroused. When a man is sexually aroused, nerve impulses emit chemicals that are responsible for increasing the blood level flowing into the penis. The penis is made up of erection chambers, both of which are made of spongy tissues (or corpus cavernosum). When these smooth muscles or tissues are relaxed, these allows for blood to enter and remain in the chambers. When enough blood flows in and gets stuck in the chambers, this causes the penis to get firm and hard or what we now call as an erection. After reaching an orgasm, the stuck blood will eventually flow out from the erection chambers causing the erection to subside and penis to go limp and soft again.
When Erectile Dysfunction Sets In
Psychological, medical, and physical variables can bring about erectile dysfunction. It could also be brought about by a combination of these factors that may also involve drugs, alcohol, and even some medications.
There are three major problems that are considered the medical and physical causes of erectile dysfunction. It could be that there is not enough blood flowing into the penis, which can be caused by such conditions such as smoking, diabetes, and even an underlying heart disease. Or it could be that the penis is unable to store enough blood during an erection, a condition called cavernosal dysfunction or venous leak. It could also be that the nerve signals from the spinal cord or the brain sent during arousal do not reach the penis, which could be caused by certain surgeries or injuries in the man's pelvic area.
Psychological factors that may cause erectile dysfunction include stress from work or at home, depression, sexual performance anxiety, and even relationship conflicts and problems. Side effects from some medications and other drugs like marijuana, heroin, and cocaine, as well as high consumption of alcohol can likewise lead to erection problems.
Your doctor will normally refer you to an endocrinologist, a mental health physician, or other types of medical specialists, depending on the determined cause of your ED, so that the most appropriate treatment method may be implemented on you for the effective and successful treatment of your erection problem.
What Non-Surgical Treatments Are Available
Because of the vast range of factors that may cause erectile dysfunction, there is also an equally vast number of treatments available for men suffering from this health problem. Here are just some of these non-surgical treatment methods that are worthy of discussion:
- Oral Medications. This category of non-surgical treatment for ED refers to all pills that are known as PDE-5 or phosphodiesterase-5 inhibitors. What these drugs basically do is that they boost the natural signals that are emitted during sexual intercourse, enhancing and prolonging the erection process. It is however sad to note that with continued and prolonged use of these drugs some side effects (stuffy nose, muscle aches, headaches, flushing, etc.) may be experienced. Hence, it is of utmost importance to stick with the prescription that has been given by one's doctor. The most common of these oral medications prescribed by doctors include Viagra, Cialis, Levitra and Kamagra.
- Manual or Self-injections. This method involves injection medication with the use of a short need through the side of the penis and directly on to the corpus cavernous, bringing about an erection that may last from around 30 minutes to several hours. Phentolamine and prostaglandin bring about similar results as the one produced by Viagra but this time they are localized in the penile area. Because of the relaxation of the smooth tissues in the penis and the vascular dilation that the drug causes, erection is made possible.
- Prostaglandin Suppositories. Another non-surgical treatment method for erectile dysfunction is the use of urethral suppositories. As the name suggests, the method involves the insertion of a prostaglandin pellet into the penis opening and into the urethra. The absorption of prostaglandin in the urethral mucosa and the surrounding tissues of the erectile chambers causes improved erections that will sustain for a satisfactory sexual encounter. Nonetheless, other than the normal side effects brought about by aprostadil, continued use of suppositories may cause some pain in the penis as well as the area between the rectum and the scrotum, which is also referred to as the perineum.
- Vacuum Penile Devices. These devices work by simply manually inducing an erection. They work best in men who are still able to get partial erections by themselves. The penis is just inserted into a tube, which is normally made from plastic. Once inserted, the tube is pressed against the body so that a seal may be formed. With the hand pump, a vacuum is created, drawing blood to flow into the penis and causing it to become engorged. A few minutes in the vacuum and the penis will get an erection, after which the tube can now be removed and an O-ring is placed at the base to ensure that the blood is trapped and the erection is maintained.
- Sex Therapy. This treatment method is normally advised to those whose ED cases may have been brought about by psychological factors. Professional therapists such as psychotherapists and sex counselors will normally recommend couples to enhance their sexual communications, minimize tension in the house, and develop realistic sexual expectations to help treat the erection problems. Other therapists likewise recommend the use of therapy in conjunction with other surgical or medical treatment techniques.