Erectile Dysfunction

Medically reviewed by Carina Fung, PharmD, BCPPS

Erectile dysfunction treatment

Generally, the first step in treating25 erectile dysfunction is ensuring that you receive treatment for any underlying mental or physical health conditions that may contribute to ED.

Many men also opt to take oral medications that can aid in getting and maintaining erections. Other physical treatments, such as penis vacuum pumps and implants, are also available.

Natural treatments for erectile dysfunction

Making good lifestyle choices26 that contribute to overall health and well-being is one of the best ways to prevent and improve erectile dysfunction.

Some natural27, lifestyle-based approaches to treating erectile dysfunction include:

  • Quitting smoking: Smoking28 can lead to cardiovascular problems, a leading risk factor for erectile dysfunction
  • Getting exercise: One Harvard study showed29 that just 30 minutes of walking a day correlated with a 41% drop in a man’s risk for erectile dysfunction. Moderate exercise has also been shown to improve sexual functioning in obese, middle-aged men with erectile dysfunction.
  • Losing weight: According to Harvard’s Healthbeat, a man with a 42-inch waist is 50% more likely30 to have erectile dysfunction than a man with a 32-inch waist. Excess body fat has been shown to interfere with several of the hormones involved in erections.

Losing weight also helps mitigate the risk of many cardiovascular diseases and diabetes, both of which contribute to erectile dysfunction.

  • Eating a healthy diet: The Massachusetts Male Aging Study showed that eating a diet that’s high in natural foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fish and low in red and processed meats decreases the chances of developing ED.
  • Exercising your pelvic floor: Having a strong pelvic floor (a group of muscles on the floor of the pelvic area) helps increase firmness during erections and prevents blood from leaving the penis. One British trial showed that, when combined with healthy lifestyle changes, three months of twice-daily Kegel exercises (which involve repeatedly tightening and relaxing the pelvic muscles) worked better in improving ED than advice on lifestyle changes alone.

Discuss what lifestyle changes may help improve your ED with your healthcare provider.

Medications for erectile dysfunction

One common course of treatment for erectile dysfunction is the use of pills (oral medication31). These include sildenafil (generic Viagra), tadalafil (generic Cialis, Adcirca), vardenafil (generic Levitra, Staxyn), and avanafil (generic Stendra).

These medications work by enhancing the effects of nitric oxide, a naturally occurring chemical that relaxes the penis’ muscles. This, in turn, increases the flow of blood to the penis.

Taking oral erectile dysfunction pills does not automatically produce an erection—these medications themselves do not cause sexual arousal. Sexual stimulation is required to trigger the release of nitric oxide from the nerves in the penis.

Other medications used to treat erectile dysfunction include:

  • Alprostadil self-injection: This method of administering ED medication involves using a thin needle to inject the drug into the base or side of the penis.

Medications more commonly used to treat other conditions—such as papaverine and phentolamine—may also be used alone or in combination with alprostadil. A combination of two medications is referred to as bimix, while a combination of three is called trimix.

  • Alprostadil urethral suppository: This treatment involves using an applicator to insert a very small suppository of alprostadil inside the penile urethra (opening of the urinary tract). Suppository treatment usually causes an erection to begin within 10 minutes and last between 30–60 minutes.
  • Hormone therapy: Erectile dysfunction may be caused or worsened by low levels of testosterone. In this case, hormone replacement therapy may be used as the first line of treatment, either by itself or combined with other therapies.

Erectile dysfunction medications

Your provider may prescribe the following medications for erectile dysfunction:

May be prescribed

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Physical treatments for erectile dysfunction

In the case that medication isn’t effective or recommended in treating your erectile dysfunction, your provider may recommend other physical treatments. These can include:

  • Penis pumps: A vacuum erection device, more commonly known as a penis pump, is a hollow tube attached to a hand- or battery-powered suction pump. The penis is placed inside the device, and the pump is used to draw the air out of the tube. This creates a vacuum, pulling blood into the penis.

After the penis becomes fully erect, a ring is placed around the base of the penis to maintain the erection. This method typically causes an erection that lasts long enough for the duration of sex or masturbation.

  • Penile implants: This method is generally not recommended until other approaches to treating erectile dysfunction have failed. This procedure requires surgical implantation of devices (either inflatable or bendable rods) on either side of the penis. Inflatable devices allow control over the duration of an erection, while flexible rods keep the penis firm but bendable.

Erectile dysfunction cure?

There is no one cure for ED that works for everybody. The set of factors that contribute to erectile dysfunction are complex, often interacting with and compounding on each other.

Talking to your healthcare provider is the best step you can take toward improving your erectile dysfunction. He or she can recommend various treatment options that may work for you, including lifestyle changes, support for mental health and wellness, medications, and physical treatment options.

Disclaimer: The information on this site is generalized and is not medical advice. It is intended to supplement, not substitute for, the expertise and judgment of your healthcare professional. Always seek the advice of your healthcare professional with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard seeking advice or delay in seeking treatment because of something you have read on our site. RxSaver makes no warranty as to the accuracy, reliability or completeness of this information.

If you are in crisis or you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 immediately.