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Many men suffer with erectile dysfunction (ED). In fact, in some studies of men aged 40-70 years old as many as 50 percent report having ED. ED is a lack of ability on a regular basis to have a penis erection. ED is a complex problem with many causes.

I often ask my patients if they continue to get morning erections, otherwise known as “morning wood.” Morning erections are consistent in the teenage years but tend to decline after the age 40 for some. By this point of the assessment, many patients feel like they can share this information. Most men don’t like to initiate these conversations with their doctors and prefer that the provider initiates this type of assessment.

ED can be a sign of an underlying chronic disease, so discussion of ED is very important. For example, chronic diseases can cause ED, such as diabetes, high cholesterol, heart disease, and high blood pressure. If you have been diagnosed with any of these conditions, it could be the cause of your ED.  ED is highly treatable, and more than 95 percent of cases can be treated successfully. With the high percentage of men that have ED, it’s time we start talking about it!

Several treatments have emerged for the treatment of ED, including Cialis/Viagra, penis pumps, Platelet Rich Plasma and Penile Implants. In this week’s column, I will provide some information on these treatments and then talk about the potential role that testosterone plays in treating ED.

Let’s start with Cialis/Viagra. Viagra was originally developed to relax the muscles and arteries in the heart. However, in studies it was found that a side effect was improved erections. So, Pfizer, the company that was testing the drug decided to market it for ED instead. Viagra is taken on demand for ED. Cialis came shortly after, it is made by Eli Lilly, Cialis can be taken on demand or daily to achieve the same results. Cialis and Viagra require a medical prescription.

Penis pumps are a tool that men can use to pull extra blood flow into the penis to help achieve an erection. These pumps do not permanently improve your penis performance and/or length. Penis pumps are safe and 77 percent of men who use this device report satisfaction. Penis pumps can be purchased at a sex shop.

Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) is becoming more popular. To obtain PRP, a medical provider draws some of your blood. They spin this blood down to separate the red blood cells and plasma. The plasma is a clear, golden substance. PRP contains several growth factors. PRP is injected into the penis in four locations. These injections stimulate the penis to encourage repair and regrowth. The treatment improves the strength of erections.

The most invasive choice is the insertion of a penile implant. Penile implants require surgical insertion, surgery always comes with risks. Penile implants typically have 3 parts; an inflatable rod inside the penis, a fluid (salt water) filled container in the lower abdomen, and pump in the testicle. You pump the fluid from the container into the rod to achieve an erection. When finished, there is a release valve which is used to drain the fluid out the penis rod back into the container in the lower abdomen.

There is one additional choice which can improve both erection strength and sexual desire, testosterone. I have spoken about testosterone in a previous column, but not specifically to the topic of testosterone and erections. As many as one in three men who have ED also have low testosterone, that is why it is so important to get your testosterone tested after the age of 40 – you could be missing out! Having a healthy testosterone level also protects you against risks of developing those chronic diseases that I listed in the beginning of this column: diabetes and heart disease, and it can help reduce belly fat. If you are looking for more information about ED and/or testosterone, reach out to Happy Hormones East for an initial assessment. Knowledge is power and knowing that your testosterone is low is the first step to finding health.




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