Education and Communication and other Non-surgical Treatments for Erectile Dysfunction (ED)?

Education and communication

Education about sex, sexual behaviors, and sexual responses may help a man overcome his anxieties about sexual dysfunction.

Talking honestly with your partner about your needs and concerns may also help to overcome many barriers to a healthy sex life.

Medication

Medications such as

    • sildenafil (Viagra®),
    • vardenafil (Levitra®),
    • or tadalafil (Cialis®)

may help improve sexual function in men by increasing blood flow to the penis. Men who are on medicines that contain nitrates such as nitroglycerine should not take oral ED medications. The combination of nitrates and these specific medications can cause low blood pressure (hypotension).

The most common side effects of these medications are indigestion, nasal congestion, flushing, headaches and a temporary visual disturbance.

Mechanical aids

Aids such as vacuum devices and penile constriction rings serve as erectile aids for some men.

A vacuum constriction device (above) is a cylinder that is placed over the penis. The air is pumped out of the cylinder, which draws blood into the penis and causes an erection. The erection is maintained by slipping a band off of the base of the cylinder and onto the base of the penis. The band can stay in place for up to 30 minutes. The vacuum device can be safely used to treat most causes of erectile failure. Lack of spontaneity, discomfort, and cumbersomeness of the device seem to be the biggest concerns of patients.

Figure 3. Choosing an injection site

Penile injection therapy (intracavernosal injection therapy)

Men are taught how to inject medications directly into the erection chambers of the penis to create an erection. Injection therapy is effective in treating a wide variety of erection issues caused by blood vessel, nerve and psychological conditions.

The tissue that causes you to get an erection (erectile tissue) is a muscle. Going long periods of time without an erection is unhealthy for erectile tissue and may damage it.

We believe that having erections keeps erectile tissue healthy. A penile injection helps you have an erection. It works best if it’s given about 5 to 15 minutes before you want an erection.

Using a tiny needle and syringe, the man injects a small amount of medicine into the side of his penis. The medicine relaxes the blood vessels, allowing blood to flow into the penis. This treatment has been widely used and accepted since the early 1980s. The three most common medicines are prostaglandin E1 (alprostadil), papaverine (Papacon®), and phentolamine (Regitine®).

The most common side effects are pain and penile scarring (fibrosis). In extremely rare cases, patients with cerebral and vascular disease or severe cardiovascular diseases might not be able to tolerate the dizziness and high blood pressure occasionally caused by injection therapy.

A painful erection that lasts longer than two to three hours is called priapism and may occur with injection therapy. This can be lessened with proper dosing and by following the treatment guidelines.

The 3 most commonly used medications for injection therapy are Trimix, Bimix, and Papaverine. Most men begin injection therapy with Trimix, which is a mixture of 3 ingredients: alprostadil, phentolamine, and papaverine. These ingredients work by relaxing the smooth muscle and opening the blood vessels in your penis, causing an erection. Your APP will decide whether Trimix or a different medication is best for you.

 

Psychology and sex therapies

Psychological causes may contribute to erectile failure even when there is a clear organic cause.

Therapy with a trained counselor can help a person address feelings of anxiety, fear or guilt that may have an impact on sexual dysfunction.

Sex therapy can be beneficial to most men when counseling is provided by a skilled sex therapist. Sex therapy also helps a man’s partner accept and cope with the problems.

A patient whose ED has a clear psychological cause should receive sex therapy counseling before any invasive treatments are pursued.

When you seek out sex therapy, you need to look for a relationship or marriage counsellor, psychotherapist or psychologist who uses specialised clinical skills and theoretical knowledge about human sexuality. In addition to having post-graduate training in couples and marriage counselling, we get specific sex therapy training to help you deal with your sexual difficulties or concerns.

Sex therapists are qualified counsellors or healthcare professionals who have had extensive training in human sexuality, in addition to being well-trained couples and marriage counsellors and therapists.

Sexual issues can often cause distress and conflict in relationships and sex therapists can assist you with these difficulties.

Some sexual concerns include:

      • Lack of sexual knowledge or education
      • Believing wrong/harmful information about sex from the media or religious institutions
      • Struggle to understand sex, desire, eroticism, privacy versus secrecy
      • Erectile and/or ejaculation difficulties
      • Performance anxiety and lack of confidence
      • Problems reaching orgasm
      • Low sexual desire concerns for both men and women
      • Intimacy problems
      • Relationship and marriage difficulties
      • Painful sex or intercourse
      • Sexual problems or changes due to illness, ageing, surgery or stress
      • Compulsive sexual behaviours, or out of control sexual behaviours (wrongly called sexual addiction)
      • Sexual trauma
      • Questioning your sexual identity, orientation or preferences
      • LGBTQI issues
      • Gender identity issues
      • Interest in kink
      • Cross dressing or other fetishes

Hormone

Low hormone levels may play a role in ED. Hormone replacement in the form of topical gels, creams, patches, injections and pellets are only used after physician evaluation.

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