When it comes to treating erectile dysfunction, oral medications such as sildenafil or tadalafil are very popular, but they are not the right option for everyone.
There are a variety of reasons why oral medications would not work out for someone. These reasons range from ineffectiveness or dangerous risks for certain groups of people to side effects which some may not find tolerable. Fortunately these are not the only options for treating erectile dysfunction.
Reasons Why Traditional Treatments Don't Always Work
If a person is already taking nitrates for heart problems such as chest pain or high blood pressure, they may not be able to take erectile dysfunction medication at all. Erectile dysfunction medications work by enhancing the effects of nitric oxide to allow greater blood flow. When these are combined with other nitrate medications, it can lead to a sharp and sudden drop in blood pressure.
Erectile dysfunction medications are safe for most people who do not have heart conditions, but they still may not be the right solution. There are some issues that medication simply cannot overcome. Medications allow for greater blood flow, making erections firmer and last longer, but if there is too much damage to the blood vessels, medication alone may not improve a person’s erections enough for sexual intercourse.
Nerve damage is another cause of erectile dysfunction that may not be adequately treated by oral medications. If there is nerve damage resulting from a surgery or a chronic disease such as diabetes, signals triggering an erection can have difficulty getting from the brain to the penis. Medications can still help, but their success rate is greatly reduced in these circumstances.
Oral medications also cannot help with psychological issues, which are found to be the cause of approximately 25 percent of erectile dysfunction cases. If a person is dealing with a large amount of stress, depression or anxiety, they may need the assistance of a specialist to deal with these issues before they can address the erectile dysfunction.
Oral medications for erectile dysfunction are generally well-tolerated, but side effects may include:
- nasal congestion
- upset stomach
Other side effects may present themselves depending on the particular medication being taken, for example some people taking tadalafil report muscle pain in their back or limbs. For some, these effects may be too distracting to allow for sexual intercourse.
It’s important to remember that a failed treatment is nobody’s fault. Even in the best case scenario, medications only work 75 to 80 percent of the time, and in many circumstances the success rate is much lower. When you factor in that about 70 percent of men at age 70 will experience erectile dysfunction, that means that, out of all men who are at age 70, about 1 in 7 will be dealing with erectile dysfunction that is not successfully treated with oral medication.
Other Treatment Options
There are alternate treatments for erectile dysfunction that are effective regardless of a person’s mental state. These options include:
- malleable or inflatable surgical implants
- medications that can be injected straight into the penis
- vacuum therapy
Often, instances of erectile dysfunction can lead to feelings of anxiety or low self-esteem, making it even more difficult to achieve an erection in the future. Considering an alternative solution to oral medication can help break this cycle. It is important to speak with one’s doctor to see if this would be the right solution.
In vacuum therapy, blood is drawn into the penis using a vacuum pump and then held in place with an elastic band. Because it does not rely on the body’s own mechanisms to achieve an erection the way medications do, it can be effective in situations where medications fail.
It is important to talk with one’s doctor about erectile dysfunction to determine the best approach.