Treatment and home remedies for ED

Erectile dysfunction (ED) is one of the most common issues affecting people's sexual life and self-esteem. However, it is not a chronic or life-threatening issue as treatments, and home remedies are available for it.

A couple consulting a doctor

Erectile dysfunction may not sound like a big issue for a sexually inactive person or a celibate. But, it calls for serious concern when it affects a sexually active person. It can be embarrassing when the penis cannot get hard when a couple is trying to initiate sex. 

Erectile dysfunction can be treated, but the problem is that some people with this condition tend to shy away from seeking medical care for their condition. They feel stigmatized by their medical condition. It is often best to talk to a doctor, particularly a urologist, who will help diagnose you and give you the proper treatment.

This article will talk about erectile dysfunction, its diagnosis, medical treatment, and home remedies that will help treat and manage the condition. It will start with explaining what erectile dysfunction means.

Meaning of erectile dysfunction (ED)

Erectile dysfunction is when a person cannot get or keep an erection strong enough to have sexual intercourse. It is the frequent inability to get the penis hard even when trying to initiate sex.

Some people find it difficult to get their penis erect when tired, stressed, angry, or emotionally down. It is normal (for both genders) not to want sex at such points. However, it becomes an issue that calls for concerns when low sex drive and inability to get the penis hard become constant and happen even when you want sex.

ED may be a symptom of another underlying problem. For instance, medical conditions like chronic kidney diseases, prostate diseases, and high blood pressure can cause ED. Studies have also shown that STDs can also cause ED. Such health conditions can interfere with sexual intercourse causing problems with ejaculation and orgasm.

Prevalence of ED

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Approximately 10% of people with penises between the ages of 40 and 70 have complete or severe erectile dysfunction, according to the Boston University School of Medicine.

The report also stated that ED issues account for about 30,000 hospital admissions and 400,000 outpatient medical care visits.

Studies also indicate that ED is more common in older adults than younger ones. The prevalence of ED goes from 2% in people below 40 years and increases to 86% in people up to 80 years, a 2016 population-based study shows.

There have not been many recent studies on the prevalence of erectile dysfunction across different races. However, an older 2007 study reported that the prevalence of ED was 24.4% in Blacks, 21.9% in whites and 19.9% in Hispanics.

Diagnosis of erectile dysfunction

Different things can cause erectile dysfunction. Therefore, your doctor will have to diagnose you carefully for erectile dysfunction and its underlying cause before treatment. Doctors generally examine their patients physically and then ask them questions about their condition and medical history.

Your doctor may ask you questions regarding when the symptoms started, which medications you use, if you are mentally or emotionally stressed, if you have a physical trauma around your pelvic region, and the frequency and duration of the erections you have had in the past. It will help if you answer all questions honestly and with clarity.

After the physical examination and question section, your doctor may order some tests for further diagnosis. Some tests you may have to take include:

  • Blood tests: The aim of blood tests is to check for signs of underlying conditions that may cause erectile dysfunction, such as diabetes, heart disease, and low testosterone levels.
  • Thyroid function test: The thyroid gland is an important organ that plays a role in regulating the production of sex hormones. This test may be carried out to determine if the thyroid is functioning properly as deficiency of sex hormones can cause ED.
  • Urine tests: These tests are similar to blood tests and may be carried out to ascertain if you have other underlying health conditions, such as diabetes. This test can provide useful information on your sugar, protein, and testosterone levels.
  • Penile biothesiometry: Neurological conditions too may cause erectile dysfunction. Your doctor may order a penile biothesiometry test for you to determine if your nerve is functioning properly. The test involves using electromagnetic vibration to check the sensitivity level of the nerve. Low sensitivity to the vibrations may indicate nerve damage.
  • Ultrasound: A radiographer may perform an ultrasound on you to check for blood flow to the penis. This process will involve holding the transducer over the blood vessels that supply the penis to see if you have blood flow problems.
  • Kidney and liver function tests: These are tests carried out to evaluate if your liver and kidneys are functioning properly. Problems with these organs can cause ED.

Treatment of erectile dysfunction

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The health specialist that will treat your ED will depend on the underlying cause of the problem. If it is caused by problems related to the urinary tract, then a urologist will most likely treat you as well. However, initial diagnosis and treatment often start with a general practitioner.

There are different treatment options for erectile dysfunction, such as:

Oral medications

Some common oral medications for treating erectile dysfunction include sildenafil (Viagra), tadalafil (Cialis), avanafil (Stendra), and vardenafil (Levitra). These medications help with getting the penis erect. They act by enhancing nitric oxide effects.

Nitric oxide is a chemical released by the body which helps relaxes the muscles of the penis. Relaxation of the muscles increases blood flow to the penis, thereby allowing you to get and sustain an erection.

Alprostadil therapy

Alprostadil can be administered as an injection or as a urethral suppository. If you are taking the injection option, your doctor will instruct you on how to inject it to the side or base of your penis.

Sometimes, alprostadil may be combined with other medications such as phentolamine. Doctors usually prescribe a dose that will create an erection that will last for about one hour.

For the alprostadil intraurethral therapy, a tiny alprostadil suppository will be placed inside your penile urethra. This can initiate an erection within 10 minutes. The erection can last for 30-60 minutes. It is best to discuss these options with your doctor to know the pros and cons before using any.

Psychological therapies

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Often, psychological issues contribute to erectile dysfunction. A person battling extreme fear, anxiety, low self-esteem, or guilt may have a low sex drive and find it challenging to have or sustain an erection. Seeing a psychologist or sex therapist may help a couple with this sexual issue. 

Penis prosthesis surgery

In some cases, inflatable penile prostheses may be implanted in the erection chambers of the penis. The prostheses become part of a man’s body and enable the penis to get erect whenever it is sexually stimulated.

Two small incisions that are not easily noticeable will be made on the man’s penis to implant the prostheses. Because the incisions are usually hidden, other people may not notice the implant.

Hormone therapy

Low testosterone levels can complicate or contribute to ED. Testosterone replacement therapy may be given alongside medications or other treatment strategies in people with ED who have low testosterone.

Lifestyle and home remedies for erectile dysfunction

Diet and lifestyle habits can impact your sexual performance

Certain lifestyle choices and habits can worsen ED or increase the risk of developing the condition. Making healthy lifestyle choices will help treat and lower the chances of ED. Some simple home remedies that will help resolve erection issues include:

  • Physical activity: Being physically active and exercising can help deal with the underlying issues that predispose a person to erectile dysfunction. Exercise can help you lose weight (which can help increase your self-esteem), reduce stress, and increase blood flow.
  • Avoid smoking: Smoking may worsen ED. Avoiding or quitting smoking often helps you live a healthy life. Quitting smoking may be challenging. But, you can talk to your doctor about prescription medications or programs that can help you stop.
  • Lose some weight: If your BMI says you are overweight, losing some weight may help with ED treatment.
  • Reduce stress: Both mental and physical stress can affect the normal functioning of organs like the penis. Stress can also cause hormonal fluctuations, which can all contribute to ED. Check if your work environment is conducive, and try to smoothen things out with your partner if you have relationship issues.
  • Watch what you eat: A recent 2020 study found that people who strictly followed the Alternative Healthy Eating Index 2010 or Mediterranean diet had a lower chance of developing ED. Meals they eat primarily contain nuts, legumes, vegetables, fish, and fruits. 

The outlook (prognosis) of erectile dysfunction

The outlook for erectile dysfunction looks good because, in most cases, symptoms can be improved. There are also different effective medications and treatment options available for treating ED.

ED is a common condition. It is not fatal and cannot be transmitted. Discussing the problem on time with a healthcare professional will ensure that a person gets immediate care. It also helps identify an underlying health condition (if any is causing the ED). 

Summary

Erectile dysfunction is a sexual issue that poses concerns for many sexually active people. It is characterized by an inability to get and keep an erection. 

Many people with this condition find it difficult to talk about it because of the purported stigma attached to it. It is best to seek medical help if you find it difficult to achieve erection regularly.

Your doctor will give you the proper treatment for ED after diagnosis. Treatment for ED will range from medications to implants and therapies.