Penis pumps, surgery and implants

If medications aren't effective or appropriate in your case, your doctor might recommend a different treatment. Other treatments include:

  • Penis pumps. A penis pump (vacuum erection device) is a hollow tube with a hand-powered or battery-powered pump. The tube is placed over your penis, and then the pump is used to suck out the air inside the tube. This creates a vacuum that pulls blood into your penis. Once you get an erection, you slip a tension ring around the base of your penis to hold in the blood and keep it firm. You then remove the vacuum device. The erection typically lasts long enough for a couple to have sex. You remove the tension ring after intercourse. Bruising of the penis is a possible side effect, and ejaculation might not be as forceful. Your doctor might recommend or prescribe a specific model.
  • Penile implants. This treatment involves surgically placing devices into both sides of the penis. These implants consist of either inflatable or semirigid rods. The inflatable devices allow you to control when and how long you have an erection. The semirigid rods keep your penis firm but bendable. This treatment is usually not recommended until other methods have been tried first. As with any surgery, there's a risk of complications, such as infection.
  • Blood vessel surgery. Rarely, obstructed blood vessels can cause erectile dysfunction. In this case, surgical repair is needed.

Psychological counseling

If your erectile dysfunction is caused by stress, anxiety or depression — or the condition is creating stress and relationship tension — your doctor might suggest that you, or you and your partner, visit a psychologist or counselor.

Erectile dysfunction — Don't ignore the underlying cause

Getting proper treatment for the underlying cause of erectile dysfunction might help prevent related health problems and improve sexual function. Conditions that can cause or worsen erectile dysfunction include:

  • Heart disease. In some cases, erectile dysfunction is the first sign of heart problems.
  • Diabetes. Over time, diabetes can damage blood vessels and nerves, making it more difficult to get or keep an erection.
  • Psychological issues. Depression and anxiety can increase the risk of sexual problems.
  • Obesity. Being obese increases the risk of erectile dysfunction. Increased physical activity and losing weight can improve your overall health and sexual function.
  • Low testosterone. Men who have low testosterone levels (hypogonadism) might need testosterone replacement therapy to increase sex drive and sexual performance.
  • Lifestyle choices. Unhealthy habits such as drinking too much alcohol, smoking, using illegal drugs and not being physically active can cause or contribute to erectile dysfunction.

If you have erectile dysfunction, you're not alone — and you have many treatment options. Work with your doctor to find which erectile dysfunction treatment might work best for you.

May 23, 2013 See more In-depth