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Erectile Dysfunction - Treatment

Overview | Causes | Diagnosis | Treatment | FAQ

Whatever the reason for your erectile dysfunction, there are methods to treat it. Methods such as oral medications, vacuum devices, penile injections, urethral medications, and surgical implantation of a penile prosthesis can correct the physical problems that cause impotence. Success rates as high as 90% are possible depending on the reason and severity of impotence. If the erectile dysfunction is due to psychological problems, psychotherapy or counseling may help.


Oral drugs such as pentoxifylline, yohimbine, and sildenafil (Viagra) can be taken an hour before sexual intercourse. These drugs are designed to improve blood flow to the penis. Alprostadil (PGE) is available as a urethral insert or as an injectable medication. Other medications are used less commonly, and more drugs should be released in the near future.

Vacuum therapy

The vacuum is regarded as the safest treatment for impotence. Success rates as high as 90% are reported. The vacuum instrument is placed over the penis, and the vacuum pulls blood into the penis. A rubber ring is slipped over the penis to help maintain the erection. The ring is removed after intercourse.

Penile Implants

Penile implants are typically a last resort, because it is the most complex and expensive treatment. Several types of implants are available, including the semi-rigid prosthesis that helps the penis maintain a constant erection. A more complicated type of implant is one that can be inflated and deflated by working a pump implanted in the scrotum. The advantage of this type is that it is more concealed when deflated and can be larger and more rigid when inflated. Selecting the best prosthesis requires discussion between the urologist and patient to answer all questions before surgery.


There is a new non-medication, non-surgical option for men with erectile dysfunction. The low intensity wave therapy is painless (although individual results may vary) and there is up to a 70% rate of success for men that undergo treatment. The therapy is done in the office and is a safe way to restore erections.


Surgery may be required when the cause of erectile dysfunction is a correctable problem with the anatomy of the penis.