Erection problems – what can help?

Not being able to get or keep an erection is something that can happen to any man. If it happens often, it may be time to find help. In Australian Prescriber, sexual health experts Dr Michael Lowy and Dr Vijayasarathi Ramanathan talk about the topic. What are the causes, what can you do, and what do you need to keep in mind?

“There are many different causes for erection problems,” says Dr Lowy.

“These causes include heart disease, diabetes, drug and alcohol use, and prescribed medicines. Worrying about the problem can also make it worse.

“Your doctor can help find the cause and work out what your choices are. Sexual counselling can also help.

“In many cases your doctor may prescribe a medicine,” he says.

A class of medicines called phosphodiesterase-5 inhibitors can help in getting and keeping an erection.

“Before starting one of these medicines, let your doctor know of all the other medicines you are taking. Medicines can interact with each other and can cause additional problems.

“Also tell your doctor about other substances you might take sometimes. For example, amyl nitrate (also called poppers) can react badly with medicines for erection problems. Your blood pressure may drop suddenly and you could collapse.

“Some of these erection medicines you need to take 1–2 hours before sex. Others you should take daily,” he says.

The article looks at other options as well, such as injections in the penis.

“Injections work quickly – within 10–15 minutes. But it is important to inject in the right place,” says Dr Lowy.

“A penis pump can also help if you can’t take medicines. It may take some practice to use it properly.

“If nothing else works, an implant in the penis may help. However, you can’t remove an implanted device,” he says.

It is important to understand the harms and benefits of all the choices.

Read the article in Australian Prescriber.


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