Treatment and Support

For many men, ED is treatable. If you’ve had ED for more than a few weeks, it’s worth seeing a doctor. They’ll be able to assess your general health and check whether the condition is a sign of any associated complications such as heart disease (when the blood supply to the heart is blocked or interrupted).5 Once you have received a diagnosis, your doctor will talk you through treatment options and potential lifestyle changes.5

Treatment options

No single medication is suitable for all men, so it is important that the right treatment is found for each individual. One type of treatment that is commonly used to treat ED are tablets containing phosphodiesterase-5 (PDE-5) inhibitors. However, some men cannot take ED tablets because of underlying medical conditions, or because they would conflict with other medications they’re already taking; some men simply don’t want to take a tablet; others find ED tablets cause unpleasant side effects like severe headaches, blurred vision and dizziness.6,10–12

Treatment options other than tablets include:3,6

  • Vacuum pumps – that encourage blood to flow to the penis and cause an erection
  • Psychological treatments – such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and sex therapy
  • Alprostadil – urethral creams, injections or pellets
  • Hormone treatment
  • Surgery

While you’re going through diagnosis and treatment, it may help to talk to someone you trust about it. This doesn’t have to be a sexual partner but, if you have one, it is important to let them know what’s going on, for their sake as well as yours. Sometimes it’s tempting to hide your ED and make excuses not to attempt sex. This may make your partner feel rejected. Instead, try to be open and honest and ask for their support.

The good news is that treatment options for ED have improved significantly in recent years, meaning most men are able to resume their sex lives.5

 

Lifestyle changes

Depending on the underlying cause of your ED, other lifestyle changes may include:6

  • Giving up smoking
  • Cutting back on your alcohol consumption
  • Not taking illegal (street) drugs
  • Exercising regularly
  • Reducing stress
  • Losing weight
1
Sexual Advice Association (2016). Erectile dysfunction. Available at: http://sexualadviceassociation.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/Men-9.-Erectile-dysfunction-V4.pdf. Date accessed: July 2017.
2
Hackett G, et al. J Sex Med 2008;5(8):1841-65. Available at: http://www.bssm.org.uk/downloads/BSSM_ED_Management_Guidelines_2007.pdf. Date accessed: July 2017.
3
Patient.co.uk (2016). Erectile dysfunction. Available at: https://patient.info/health/erectile-dysfunction-impotence. Date accessed: July 2017.
4
NHS Choices. Erectile dysfunction (impotence) – Causes (2014). Available at: http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Erectile-dysfunction/Pages/Causes.aspx. Date accessed: July 2017.
5
NHS Choices (2014). Erectile dysfunction (impotence) – Introduction. Available at: http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/Erectile-dysfunction/Pages/Introduction.aspx. Date accessed: July 2017.
6
NHS Choices (2014). Erectile dysfunction (impotence) – Treatment. Available at: http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Erectile-dysfunction/Pages/Treatment.aspx. Date accessed: July 2017.
7
Vardi Y. J Urol 2000;163(2):467–470.
8
Yeager J and Beihn RM. Int J Impot Res 2005;17:91–95.
9
Steidle C, et al. Urology 2002;60:1077–1082.
10
Viagra (sildenafil) Summary of Product Characteristics 2016. Available at: https://www.medicines.org.uk/emc/medicine/1474. Date accessed: July 2017.
11
Cialis (tadalafil) Summary of Product Characteristics 2017. Available at: https://www.medicines.org.uk/emc/medicine/11363. Date accessed: July 2017
12
Levitra (vardenafil) Summary of Product Characteristics 2016. Available at: https://www.medicines.org.uk/emc/medicine/24374. Date accessed: July 2017.

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