Erectile dysfunction, also called ED (or impotence) can be treated a number of ways, including some holistic options, but as always the first step is diagnosis. Unfortunately, only about 30 percent of men experiencing erectile dysfunction consult a physician – a rising percentage directly correlated to a man’s age, according to researchers.
Prescription Medications for ED
Taken orally as pills, tablets, softgels, or injected (or inserted), these ED medications include:
Vardenafil (Levitra, Staxyn)
Alprostadil (self-injection or suppository)
All rely on the mechanism of nitric oxide, a chemical the human body produces naturally. Nitric oxide relaxes blood vessels to allow more blood to flow into the penis. Like many pharmaceuticals, these erectile dysfunction medications have side effects, most mild but some significant. They include backache, flushing, headache, nasal congestion, stomach distress and visual disturbances, and should not be taken before or while driving, operating machinery, or performing other potentially dangerous tasks.
In addition, patients with ED taking nitrate drugs – for example, nitroglycerin for angina, those with very low blood pressure or very high, uncontrolled blood pressure, or those with severe liver or kidney disease (that requires dialysis) are advised not to take ED drugs. This includes both pharmaceuticals and some over-the-counter (OTC) or herbal remedies.
As always, consult a doctor before taking any medication or supplement.
Psychological Treatment for ED
If a doctor determines that there is no physical cause for erectile dysfunction, he or she may recommend specific psychological counseling, which can include both individual and couple’s therapy. The consulting psychologist may also recommend tricyclic antidepressants, or SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors), or other pharmaceutical remedies to relieve anxiety, but only where such drugs do not interfere with essential medications.
Natural Treatments for ED
Men with ED who prefer to take a holistic approach to healing will be glad to know that certain natural chemicals, herbs, and non-surgical treatments can also relieve erectile dysfunction, though these compounds make take slightly longer to relieve ED and require more dedication. These include:
Acupuncture, an ancient Chinese/Asian remedy involving the use of sterile needles placed at specific points on the body, which researchers showed achieved improvement in more than 20 percent of participants.
Panax Ginseng, or red ginseng, which was shown to have positive effects in all of seven trials regarding erectile dysfunction analyzed.
Rhodiola Rosea, which showed improvement in 26 out of 35 men taking doses ranging from 600 to 1,000 milligrams (mg.) three times a day.
L-Arginine, a naturally occurring amino acid which promotes the production of nitric oxide, which relaxes blood vessels to help achieve a successful erection, at 5 grams per day. When combined with pycnogenol, the bark of a pine tree, 80 percent of participants achieved an erection at two months, and 92 percent relieved their ED after three months.
Ashwaganda (an herb used in Ayurvedic, or Indian medicine), combined with gingko has been thought to help prevent or reduce episodes of erectile dysfunction, but more studies are needed. Recommended dosages range from 500 to 1,000 mg. twice a day.
Manual and Surgical Treatments for Erectile Dysfunction
Penis pumps, which are self operated, pumping blood into the penis, after which a ring is placed around the base of the penis to retain the extra blood.
Penile implants, surgically inserted but manually controlled.
Blood vessel surgery, or surgical repair of damaged penile blood vessels, via vascular stents or tubes, or even vascular bypass procedures (very similar to kidney stents in their function)