Erectile dysfunction (ED) is a topic that requires attention. It is no way embarrassing or unnatural: this delicate problem may have a whole lot of underlying issues and may manifest in a few symptoms of different severity. However, according to world’s statistics: over 70% of men face one or more erectile dysfunction symptoms in their life. It may appear naturally with aging or as a result of diseases or external factors.
What is Erectile dysfunction?
Researchers say: the reasons for erectile dysfunction manifestation can be divided in psychological or physical. Psychological triggers are revealed easier in placebo laboratory tests, while underlying physical conditions of the ED are more difficult to be diagnosed.
In most cases physical causes of erectile dysfunction include:
- underlying conditions (for example, kidney and cardiovascular diseases, injuries of the spinal cord, and multiple sclerosis);
- damaged nervi erigentes – a nerve, which provokes sexual excitement in respond to sexually attractive images or fantasies;
- anxiety and chronic stress;
- condition causing low testosterone levels (manifests in decreased sexual performance and erectile dysfunction).
Another way of specifying ED types is dividing them in permanent or temporary. Temporary erectile dysfunction is caused by antidepressants or stress and is usually restored with time or when the impact of external triggers disappears.
The signs of both permanent and temporary erectile dysfunction include the following:
- Complete or recurring inability to get an erection;
- Difficulties maintaining erections during the sexual intercourse;
- Low sexual desire;
- Premature ejaculation or inabilities to reach orgasms.
Regardless of the symptoms or their combinations, erectile dysfunction requires medical attention. It is highly recommended to make an appointment with a doctor and to undergo examination to reveal the cause and treat it.
Interesting fact about erectile dysfunction: for decades it was a taboo to discuss ED: the first mention of it dates to the 1930s in the US. It was an herbal remedy advertisement.
Erectile dysfunction vs Testosterone levels
Does erectile dysfunction happen in men with lower sexual temperament? Or does this problem happen in mature males no regardless of their sexuality?
Scientists agree that there are no reliable methods to find out what’s normal, when the sexual drive is considered. Low or high are subjective parameters. However, laboratory tests for testosterone levels can help exclude this issue from the list of possible underlying conditions. According to a major study at Massachusetts University, about 30% of men with lowered testosterone levels and lower sexual drive in general tend to experience erectile dysfunction symptoms.
In the USA over 45% of men in their late 40ies and early 50ies are worried about their sexual abilities and wonder how to win back their sexual power.
Methods of ED treatment
There are 3 most common options used for ED treatment today:
- Physiotherapy, including shockwave therapy, and methods of physical impact used to reach and keep an erection: vacuum pumps, elastic rings and other similar devices.
- Medications and supplements – pharmaceutically active ingredients include PDE-5 inhibiting meds (Viagra, Levitra, Cialis, etc.), generics with the same active ingredient. Sometimes the action of medications can be enhanced with the help of herbal components (Ginseng, Ginkgo Biloba and other).
- Surgical method – long-time solution provided via implanting inflatable components in the penile cavity.
Preventive methods include healthy eating, regular physical exercises, doctor examinations (heart, cardiovascular system, testosterone levels, and etc.), using psychological techniques to deal with stress and more. The effectiveness of physiotherapy is medium to low. It takes time and has accumulative effect. Over 1/3 of patients report no significant changes and continue experiencing erectile dysfunction symptoms. Surgical method is radical, quite expensive and has risks and contraindications. If you are interested in this option, consult your doctor. However, this method is not very popular, because there are a lot of erectile dysfunction drugs used on ‘as necessary’ basis.
Erectile dysfunction drugs
Let’s consider ED medications in detail.
The first invented and laboratory tested drug presented by the Pfizer pharmaceutical company was Viagra (Sildenafil Citrate). The active ingredient was supposed to help people with cardiovascular diseases; however, the study participants noticed a great ‘side effect’ – better and stronger erections after the intake of Sildenafil. The pharmaceutical company used this advantage and started manufacturing Viagra. It happened by the end of the previous century. So, you can imagine how happy men were to get such a great solution of their problem.
In first commercials of Viagra, the actors were 45+, this is one of the reasons why erectile dysfunction is still considered a problem of aging men. Nevertheless, the condition is getting younger – doctors say. After Viagra the world saw Levitra and Cialis – two major drugs with the similar action. This is an evidence of how recent technologies in pharmaceutical business help millions of men restore their sexual power, even in severe ED cases.
How to choose the right medication for erectile dysfunction treatment?
The treatment is prescribed by the doctor. The choice depends on the individual health condition, age, underlying diseases and causes. To find the right treatment doctors prescribe laboratory tests and other screening types. Make sure you inform the healthcare provider about all medications you are currently taking or have taken recently.
Viagra and other drugs belong to the group named Phosphodiesterase 5 (PDE5) inhibitors. This type of ED pills is popular worldwide due to limited side effects and high efficacy. PDE5 inhibitors act by increasing the blood supply to genitals during sexual excitement. Keep in mind that this type of drugs doesn’t work on its own without sexual stimulation.
The most common PDE5 inhibitors that can be prescribed by your doctor for erectile dysfunction treatment include:
- Sildenafil – the brand name Viagra
- Tadalafil – the brand name Cialis
- Vardenafil – the brand name Levitra
- Avanafil – the brand name Spedra
What’s the difference between them, if they work in the same manner?
To put it briefly, some active ingredients may work for one patient and have little or no effect on the other one – and vice versa. Doctors say that new patients need to try a few of them to choose the best working one, which causes no side effects.
The primary option prescribed by most of doctors is Sildenafil (Viagra). Those, who experience side effects of Viagra, usually get a prescription for Avanafil (Stendra). Sildenafil, Vardenafil and Avanafil provide strong and long-lasting erection in case of sexual arousement for the upcoming 6-8 hours after administration. The action of Tadalafil is longer: up to 36 hours. Due to this feature the drug got the name “weekend pill”.
It is recommended to take 1 pill of any PDE5 inhibitor 30-45 minutes before the planned sex. Do not exceed the dosage of 1 pill per 24 hours. Remember that taking fatty or large meals may make the pill absorption slower. Each of these drugs has its own pros and cons. Entrust you doctor with the choice, but make sure this choice is backed up with your medical history and your previous experience with ED treatment drugs (if any). Viagra, Levitra, and Cialis appear effective in over 70% of cases.
Insufficient effect may be observed because of individual insensitivity or due to one of the following factors:
- not enough time for the medication to start active;
- the medication has already stopped acting;
- patient’s individual case of ED requires a higher dosage than prescribed;
- patients need more sexual stimulation for an erection, even after taking ED medications.
Cons of erectile dysfunction treatment drugs
The main disadvantage of them is the price. It depends on the type of health insurance, but the price for ED drugs may appear as high as $15-20 per pill. Other aspects to consider are side effects and precautions. Erectile dysfunction meds don’t have many side effects, but it is necessary to carefully study the list of possible ones and immediately discontinue the use in case you notice at least one of them.
All possible risks and limitations should be discussed with your doctor prior to pill administration. Pay special attention to this information, if you have Peyronie’s disease, any risk or priapism (painful long-lasting erection), or are taking alpha-blockers. Never combine ED pills with nitrate-containing medications (also known as “poppers”, prescribed for heart diseases treatment.) Such a combination of active ingredients may put your health at risk.
How to improve the effect of ED treatment?
Here are a couple of tips to increase the action of ED pills and minimize the risk of side effects:
- Maintain healthy weight. Healthy diet, limiting fatty foods and net carbs help care of your cardiovascular system and help your ED pills work better. Control your habits. Excessive smoking and alcohol consumption decrease sexual desire and are factors promoting ED occurrence.
- Add some exercising. Regular walks and exercising improve the blood flow in pelvic area to stimulate better and harder erections. Despite the fact there are no astonishing research results, which prove the efficacy of the above mentioned methods, sticking to these rules won’t hurt you anyway. Stay healthy!