It may seem a little odd reading the words ‘popular’ and ‘treatment’ in the same sentence. Does anyone really want treatment? It clearly implies there is something wrong with you. So we start from the perspective of actually needing treatment and having to seek out the treatment that will lead to greatest satisfaction. On that basis a pill is always going to be more popular than surgery, or is it?
Before getting to the medical interventions let’s start closer to home. In the case of erectile dysfunction there are a number of possible alternatives to medication simply by making some changes to lifestyle. It does however mean making a bit of effort. This may not be popular, in fact it may be quite effortful, but it is the most natural way to start and could turn out to be the most effective.
When it comes to lifestyle the medical professions unite around the same banner. Negative issues include drinking too much alcohol, living a sedentary life, smoking, eating a poor diet and suffering the effects of stress.
The top two culprits are smoking and drinking. Any man with erectile dysfunction needs to reduce their alcohol intake if it exceeds three units a day. Excessive intake of alcohol can affect liver function which in turn may affect the sex hormone testosterone. Smoking is probably the number one toxin so far as erectile dysfunction is concerned. Smoking hardens and narrows the blood vessels that supply the penis and so affect sexual function.
In many cases cessation of smoking and drinking can help considerably, especially if the extent of erectile dysfunction was not too severe at the outset. But this is only part of a broader set of lifestyle issues that need to be considered if the man wants to generally improve their overall sexual function. There’s no avoiding the fact that a properly balanced diet, regular daily exercise and management of stress, all work together to create the optimum physical and psychological system for health.
For various reasons not all men will be able to improve or restore sexual function just through lifestyle change. They therefore rely on the treatment options available and during the last decade the options have improved significantly.
Until the introduction of Viagra just over a decade ago, there were no easy or fully acceptable medical treatments for erectile dysfunction. On average, an erection can be obtained within 30 minutes of swallowing one Viagra tablet. Other popular drugs for erectile dysfunction are essentially similar to Viagra and what differences there are seem modest. Levitra, for example, may act a little more quickly than Viagra, and there is some evidence that it may be slightly more beneficial for men with diabetes.
All medicines have side effects. With Viagra, or similar medications, the most common side effects include reddening of the face, indigestion, blurred vision, headaches and stuffy nose. Cialis seems to come with a slightly higher incidence of muscular aches and some back pain. Despite this, most men will not experience any side effects at all.
In some cases, a low level of the hormone testosterone is the underlying cause of erectile dysfunction. A range of treatment options are available that include pills, patches, injections or gels. At first sight this may appear a good selection but there are problems. Pills give rise to severe side effects and therefore tend not be used. Injections are invasive and inconvenient and need to be used every month. The most consistent method therefore is through the use of patches which are applied daily to the skin.
Some men seek different options to drugs. Vacuum devices have certain pro’s and con’s and may be best suited for men in long-term relationships. By contrast, an inflatable penile prosthesis is surgically implanted. It is completely hidden and can be inflated by the man operating a small pump located in the scrotum. Erection takes a matter of 10 seconds and the penis will stay erect for as long as the man wishes. In terms of achieving an erection this is probably the most spontaneous and natural options available.
There is little doubt that pills like Viagra are popular. However, you may be surprised to know that satisfaction rates in men who use prosthetic implants is over 90 per cent and this is higher than other therapies. Popularity and satisfaction may therefore be different. Depending on your level of need, it is worth exploring all the options available to you.
Jerry Kennard, Ph.D., is a chartered psychologist and associate fellow of the British Psychological Society. Jerry’s clinical background is in mental health and, most recently, higher education. He is the author of various self-help books and is co-founder of positivityguides.net.