Treatment Options for Erectile Dysfunction (ED)
Allison Bush | June 30, 2014
Reviewed by Jennifer Sobol, D.O.
A vacuum pump consists of a clear plastic tube that is connected to a pump, which is either hand or battery operated. You place your penis in the tube and pump out all of the air. This creates a vacuum that causes the blood to fill your penis, making it erect. You then place a rubber ring around the base of your penis in order to keep the blood in place, allowing you to maintain an erection for around 30 minutes.
If a hormonal condition is causing erectile dysfunction (ED), you may be referred to an endocrinologist. Many hormonal conditions can be treated using injections of synthetic (man-made) hormones to restore normal hormone levels. There are also topical and transdermal (like a patch) options for hormone replacement.
Surgery for ED is usually only recommended if all other treatment methods have failed. It may be considered in younger men who have experienced trauma to their pelvic area or men with a significant anatomical problem with their penis. Penile implants are one type of surgery that may be considered. There are several types of implants, and you and your doctor should decide which is the best option. Other options for surgery may include surgery on the nerves or blood vessels that go the pelvis and the penis.
Men with underlying psychological causes of ED may benefit from a type of sex therapy called sensate focus. If conditions such as anxiety or depression are causing your ED, you may benefit from counseling (a talking therapy).
Pelvic floor exercises
Some studies have suggested that, in a few cases, it may be beneficial to exercise your pelvic floor muscles. These are a group of muscles around the underside of the bladder and rectum, as well as at the base of the penis. These exercises involve strengthening and training the muscles used to control the anus and urinate.
For men who can’t take oral medications for ED, FDA-approved penile injections are the next best thing, boasting an 85 percent success rate. To use this treatment, the drug alprostadil is injected directly into the penis to trigger an automatic erection. Other compounds are available as well.
According to a 2008 study, Korean red ginseng (unskinned Panax ginseng before it is steamed or otherwise heated and subsequently dried), proved effective in the treatment of erectile dysfunction. Dosages ranged from 600 to 1,000 mg three times daily.
The main support for the use of arginine in erectile dysfunction comes from a small double-blind trial in which 50 men with erectile dysfunction received either 5 g of L-arginine or placebo daily for six weeks. Men in the treated group experienced improvement in sexual performance than in the placebo group.
In a six-month, double-blind trial of 120 men, with an average age 66, carnitine (propionyl-l-carnitine 2 g/day plus acetyl-l-carnitine 2 g/day) and testosterone (testosterone undecanoate 160 mg/day) were separately compared to placebo. The results indicated that both carnitine and testosterone improve erectile function; however, while testosterone significantly increased prostate volume, carnitine did not.
In a pilot study of 16 patients with erectile dysfunction, acupuncture seemed to improve the quality of erections and restore sexual activity in 39 percent of participants who received the treatment twice a week for four weeks. Though some other studies are conflicting regarding the efficacy of acupuncture, it may be worth trying.