Most men will experience some level of erectile dysfunction at some point in their lives, so how to cure erectile dysfunction is naturally a commonly asked question. In this article, we will provide the following information.
Feel free to skip to the section which may address your specific knowledge gaps!
- Overview of what erectile dysfunction (ED) is.
- What causes ED?
- How to cure or treat your erectile dysfunction
What is Erectile Dysfunction?
So, the basics. Erectile Dysfunction is when a man is unable to get or achieve an erection that is hard enough to have sexual intercourse. The medical term used for erectile dysfunction is impotence, so you may hear these terms used interchangeably.
Impotence is a problem which becomes, (like many things!), more likely as you age. There is a noticeable increase in the frequency of the condition in men aged over 40. As well as associated sexual issues such as premature ejaculation, as many as 1 in 10 men may be suffering from some type of sexual problem.
What Causes ED?
So to address how we can cure or treat erectile dysfunction, we first need to understand a few things about it. If there is an underlying cause of your ED, medication may not be necessary, so it’s helpful to address some of the causes.
Causes can generally be split into three subtypes.
Physical causes of ED may include medical conditions such as high blood pressure or high cholesterol. Older men may also experience a narrowing of blood vessels to the penis which results in erectile dysfunction. Fixing your ED in this instance may be as simple as getting started on blood pressure medication or lowering your cholesterol with prescribed medicine. It’s important these health conditions are resolved to see if they may cure your ED without the need for medication.
If you’ve not had a recent GP checkup for heart disease and its related conditions, and you are over 40, arrange one to make sure you can rule these out as a cause of your impotence.
Medicines can sometimes have a role in your developing ED, as this may be one of the side effects. Check your information leaflets for the side effects of any medication you are taking. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist if you are unsure.
Psychological causes may be shorter-lasting in nature or result in only intermittent dysfunction. Examples of psychological causes would be things like stress or depression. Reducing stress exposure can be the best ED treatment if it means avoiding medication!
Anxiety related to sexual performance may also be a factor that results in erectile dysfunction. If you are concerned about any of these, you can try to schedule a visit with a sex therapist. You can check a sex therapist is registered here.
Lifestyle factors are, in theory, the easiest to address. These can be things like alcohol consumption, smoking or high-fat diets.
Of course, the simple fix is to moderate or remove the offending indulgence. For alcohol, you should limit intake to 14 units per week.
If you are overweight or have recently put on a lot of weight, this may be a cause of your erectile dysfunction. Trying to improve diet and increasing the amount of exercise can help you lose weight and make a difference to your ED.
Home Cures and Herbal Remedies
There is a limited evidence base surrounding many of the “miracle” ED cures touted online. Whether herbal or supplement based, we can’t make any strong specific recommendations due to the lack of solid and varied scientific evidence.
The two remedies with the most research into their effects on ED are Red Ginseng, often referred to as herbal Viagra and L-arginine.
The following study into Korean Red Ginseng, revealed that more research was warranted to provide a firm evidence base for its use to treat erection problems. Meanwhile, this study into L-arginine showed very encouraging results in men with ED who took a combination of L-arginine and Pycnogenol.
Medications used in the treatment of ED are all designed to improve erections by increasing the blood flow to the penis, which allows men to maintain an erection for the duration of most sexual activity. The group of drugs are called PDE5 inhibitors and include some of the most well-known drug names on the planet! They include;
- Viagra / Sildenafil
- Sildenafil is the active ingredient of Viagra, which is the first and best known ED drug.
- Cialis / Tadalafil
- Tadalafil is the active ingredient of Cialis, which is another well known ED treatment, known as ‘The Weekend Pill’ for its long-lasting duration of action.
- Levitra / Vardenafil
- Vardenafil is the drug name for the ingredient in Levitra. This drug is less well known than its older cousins, but it useful for treating ED in patients with diabetes.
- The newest of the treatments for erectile dysfunction, this medication contains the active ingredient Avanafil. As the name suggests, it gets to work quickly. You may only need to take this tablet 15 minutes before sexual activity for it to get into your bloodstream.
Pumps which use a vacuum principle to encourage blood flow to the penis are highly effective in helping men with impotence achieve an erection. Around 70% of men with ED will find that a vacuum pump device will allow them to achieve an erection.
The mechanism is simple enough (if you know your physics!). Negative pressure which is produced by the vacuum stimulates the flow of blood to the penis. While it may take around 7 minutes to obtain a full erection, they can last for up to half an hour. Generally plenty of time!
Pumps don’t usually come cheap, however. You can expect to pay as much as £400 for a good pump. They may not be the preferred option for many men due to the somewhat inconvenient process of use.
However, for some men, particularly those who may not have seen results with medication, or experienced side effects, penis pumps can be the solution they’ve been looking for.
If all of the above treatments and cures fail, all hope is not lost. Penile implants are devices that can be surgically inserted into your penis to help facilitate your erection.
Speaking to your doctor about everything you’ve tried, and your full health background is essential before making the decision to pursue penile implants. They are typically a last resort, for men in which no other measure has worked.
There are two types of penile implant. These are inflatable implants and semirigid rods. Both have various advantages and disadvantages. For a more comprehensive look at what penile implants are, their risks and benefits, you can read this article.
In summary, the treatment or cure of ED should roughly follow these steps
1 – Improve and identifiable lifestyle issues which may be contributing to your ED
2 – Check with your GP for underlying health conditions
3 – Try medication or a penis pump depending on your circumstances
4 – If none of the above has cured your erectile dysfunction, visit your GP to discuss the possibility of implants
British Association of Urological Surgeons. Available: https://www.tsft.nhs.uk/media/45947/VEDs.pdf Last accessed August 2019
NHS Inform. Available: https://www.nhsinform.scot/illnesses-and-conditions/sexual-and-reproductive/erectile-dysfunction-impotence. Last accessed August 2019.
The information contained in this article is not a substitute for personalised medical advice. Should you have any concerns about your health please speak to your pharmacist or doctor.