Treating Erectile Dysfunction

Ten percent of all men cope with erectile dysfunction over the long term, including throughout Dallas, Texas. While there’s no need for concern if you have problems sustaining or even achieving an erection once in a while, issues that persist require a response.

Erectile dysfunction can stem from a wide range of causes. It might indicate that you have a cardiovascular condition that requires treatment, or another health problem that a doctor should look into. And of course, it causes stress within a relationship, not to mention the potential blow to your own dignity and self-esteem.

In many cases, treatments are available to help with erectile dysfunction here in Dallas, Texas. The answer to your problem may be waiting for you. Read on for answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about erectile dysfunction.

What Is Erectile Dysfunction?

Erectile dysfunction is the most common sexually related condition experienced by men. It’s defined as the failure to maintain an erection during sexual encounters. Along with erectile dysfunction, many men experience related symptoms such as difficulty ejaculating, lack of sexual desire and problems with achieving an erection in the first place.

In some cases, erectile dysfunction can be related to or caused by heart disease and diabetes. If you have these co-occurring conditions, you should make a doctor’s appointment as soon as possible. Medical treatment can also help with erectile dysfunction that isn’t linked to another physical condition, as well as related issues, such as premature ejaculation.

Many men who experience erectile dysfunction find that the condition cascades into related areas of stress. Their sex life is typically unsatisfactory, which leads to problems in their relationships. They may be unable to get their partner pregnant, putting further stress on a relationship. Many men find their self-confidence withering as they cope with erectile dysfunction as well. For all these reasons, seeking medical treatment is a good idea.

What Causes Erectile Dysfunction?

In men, sexual arousal involves both psychological and physical triggers. It’s not surprising, then, that when either the physical or psychological process involved with achieving an erection breaks down, the result is erectile dysfunction.

Technically, erectile dysfunction occurs as a result of restriction of blood flow to the penis or of damage to associated nerves. It may be caused by a combination of physical and psychological or emotional issues. Discovering the cause of long-term erectile dysfunction is crucial to men’s health, since it can actually be a symptom of a more serious underlying disease or condition.

What Are The Psychological Factors Underlying Erectile Dysfunction?

Erectile dysfunction very often has a psychological component to it. Many issues can trigger it through their contribution to sexual response. Men suffering from stress at work or in their relationships often find they stop responding sexually. Other types of stress, including social stress regarding expectations in relationships and problems with communication, can also be involved.

In addition, many men who deal with anxiety or depression can experience erectile dysfunction as a concomitant symptom. When anxiety about sexual performance comes into the picture, that anxiety can compound itself to create distinct physical symptoms, including erectile dysfunction.

What Are the Physical Causes of Erectile Dysfunction?

Blood flow to the penis can be halted or reduced by many causes — and at a certain point, that reduced blood flow results in failure to achieve an erection. This reduced blood flow can be the result of disease. It can also be a reaction to medications or other substances, as well as to various types of medical or surgical treatments. Take a look at this list covering most of the factors that can result in erectile dysfunction:

  • Heart disease, including the clogged blood vessels of atherosclerosis
  • Medications (some of which list erectile dysfunction as a side effect)
  • Radiation for cancers in the pelvic area, including bladder, colorectal and prostate cancer
  • Metabolic syndrome, which involves a combination of high insulin levels, high blood pressure, belly fat and high cholesterol
  • High blood pressure (hypertension)
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Surgery in the pelvic area or those affecting the spinal cord
  • Peyronie’s disease, which causes scar tissue to grow inside the penis
  • Obesity
  • Injuries to the spinal cord, penis or pelvis area
  • Sleep disorders
  • Aging (though not all men develop erectile dysfunction with age)
  • Tobacco use
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Low testosterone levels
  • High cholesterol levels
  • Diabetes (since high blood sugar reduces blood flow)
  • Alcohol and drug abuse

If any of these physical factors are present, it’s a good idea to see a doctor about your erectile dysfunction.

How Can I Seek Treatment for Erectile Dysfunction?

At Texas Men’s Health Group in Dallas, Texas, we help men every day with sensitive issues including erectile dysfunction. You can expect your visit to include an open and honest discussion about any types of stress you’re facing, as well as any other psychological factors including anxiety and depression. That’s because erectile dysfunction is, in many ways, a whole-body symptom, one that affects mental health as well as physical health.

While the discussion of your erectile dysfunction may feel uncomfortable at first, you’ll quickly realize that your doctor and our whole team are here to help. That’s why you need to tell your doctor about all symptoms you’re dealing with, including any problems with sexual desire, orgasms and ejaculation. Your doctor will also want to know about your use (if any) of tobacco, alcohol and other drugs. All this information is of great value to the doctor when it comes to making a diagnosis and establishing a treatment plan.

Your doctor is also likely to conduct a physical exam that focuses on your cardiovascular system. That’s because erectile dysfunction can be a symptom of some more serious ailments. By either discovering those or ruling them out, your doctor can plan treatment more effectively. You may also end up having some blood tests to check for low testosterone levels as well as to confirm your blood sugar levels. In some cases, a doctor may also order an ultrasound to take a look at the blood flow to your penis.

What Medications Are Available to Help With Erectile Dysfunction?

Medications attack the issues underlying erectile dysfunction in several ways. While some medications must be injected into the penis, doctors typically try oral medications first.

Oral Medications: Viagra and Cialis

These two medications are probably the best known when it comes to treating erectile dysfunction. You’ve certainly seen TV ads for them, and you may know men who taken them. But how do they work to combat erectile dysfunction?

Remember how erectile dysfunction is fundamentally caused by restricted blood flow to the penis? Well, these medications, which are technically known as PDE5 inhibitors, increase the blood flow — and that extra blood flow improves the erections of most men taking the pills. Viagra does this by blocking a specific enzyme that restricts blood flow. Cialis was actually developed to treat heart disease — until researchers realized its improved blood flow had a very interesting side effect.

Viagria starts to work within about 20 minutes, and it does the job for 70% of the men who take it, with its effects lasting for about five hours. Cialis also works quickly, within about 30 minutes, and its effects keep going for up to several days. Any man who is on nitrate drugs for a heart condition should not take either Viagra or Cialis.

Injectable Medications: PT 141and Alprostadil

If Viagra and Cialis don’t restore a man’s erections, doctors typically next turn to injectables. As you can tell from the name, these meds need to be injected into the body. While PT 141 is injected into fatty tissue (such as the buttocks), Alprostadil must be injected into the side of the penis. Men who use these drugs get instruction on application at their doctor’s office.

PT 141 increases sexual desire, and it actually works for both men and women. It’s related to the hormone that produces melanin, so one of its side effects is sunless tanning of the skin. PT 141 takes about an hour to work, but it can last as long as 72 hours. Alprostadil works very quickly, but the erections it produces only last about 30 minutes.

Testosterone Replacement Therapy

Sometimes there’s a clear medical cause underlying erectile dysfunction: low testosterone. If this is true in your case, simple blood tests can confirm it. Men who show clinical evidence of low testosterone levels can be helped with testosterone replacement therapy. Erectile dysfunction isn’t a clear indicator of low testosterone levels (that’s why blood tests are needed), but it’s certainly a symptom and always worth looking into.

What Other Treatments Are Available for Erectile Dysfunction?

Medications aren’t the only options available to you when it comes to treating erectile dysfunction. Take a look at some other options that may be of help:

  • Penis Pumps: Also known as vacuum erection devices, these pumps draw blood into the penis by creating a vacuum around it, resulting in an erection. These devices work well for men who can’t take erectile dysfunction medications, and they’re safe to use. However, some men don’t enjoy their use because they can result in numbness.
  • Counseling: Sometimes erectile dysfunction is closely linked to anxiety or depression. Other psychological factors, such as a fear of intimacy, can also play a role. Working with a therapist can help clear the pathway to achieving and maintaining erections once again.
  • Changes to Lifestyle and Habits: Losing weight and exercising can have a positive effect on erectile dysfunction, especially for men who are already dealing with diabetes or heart disease. Many men find that limiting their alcohol, drug and tobacco use also helps them get healthy erections. And of course, stress reduction in general can push erectile dysfunction to the back burner for many men.
  • Penile implants: Men who have dealt with Peyronie’s disease, which leaves scarring inside the penis, are typically the recipients of this surgical answer to erectile dysfunction. The surgery places an inflatable device inside the penis to help men achieve erections.
  • Penile vascular surgery: Younger men who have endured extreme trauma to the pelvic area may be candidates for this type of bypass surgery that reroutes arteries to the penis. It’s not an appropriate treatment for older men, however.

Where Can I Get Help With Erectile Dysfunction?

At Texas Men’s Health Group, we can help you find the right approach to dealing with your erectile dysfunction right here in Dallas, Texas. Whether you want testing to determine if at-home testosterone injections are the right path to take or you want to learn more about the medications that make erectile dysfunction a thing of the past, we are here for you.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment with one of our local specialists in Dallas. We can get you started on the journey back toward a healthy sex life, with all the energy and self-esteem that goes along with it.