Some men will have issues with erections (erectile dysfunction or ED) within a few years of external beam radiation for prostate cancer. Some of these men may have erections that allow penetration, but only a small portion report their erections are as good as they were before treatment.
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The central nervous system is responsible for releasing nitric oxide, an essential chemical for producing and maintaining an erection, and heavy alcohol consumption depresses the central nervous system, causing it to function less efficiently. Not enough nitric oxide translates to erectile dysfunction.
Call your doctor or seek emergency medical attention if your erection is painful or lasts longer than 4 hours. A prolonged erection (priapism) can damage the penis.
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An inflatable penile implant can be implemented in the case of erectile dysfunction, Peyronie’s disease, or other medical conditions in which a man can no longer maintain an erection or sexual function.
Medicines to help produce erections – pills such as sildenafil (Viagra®), tadalafil (Cialis®), or vardenafil (Levitra®) − are typically used in combination with other therapies or devices. Since the drugs might not produce an erection because they need the nerves responsible for erections to be healthy, penile injections or vacuum devices might be offered. See Managing Male Sexual Problems Related to Cancer to learn more.
The inability to achieve an erection is a symptom of an underlying health problem or a result of lifestyle factors that aren’t allowing the physiological mechanisms of an erection to unfold. For some men, this is only an occasional problem, which may be the result of increased stress, drinking alcohol or fatigue. But for men who experience erectile dysfunction more than 50 percent of the time when they are trying to engage in sexual activity, this may indicate that there’s a bigger health problem that needs to be addressed.
Impotence treatments were discussed in the oldest Chinese text, The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine, which describes traditional Chinese medicine during the time of the Yellow Emperor’s rule which ended around 2600 BC. One of the treatments for impotence discussed is a potion with 22 ingredients.4
Moment A. Sexuality, intimacy, and cancer. In Abrahm JL, ed. A Physician’s Guide to Pain and Symptom Management in Cancer Patients. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press; 2014:390-426.
Dr. Chirag Bhandari and the team of male sexual health experts treat all aspects of sexual dysfunction at the Institute of Andrology and Sexual Health with well-advanced technologies and methodologies.
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If stress, anxiety, or other emotional issues are causing the condition, counseling may help. Some men experience erectile dysfunction because of past experiences that cause a lack of self-esteem, fear, or guilt, and counseling can help you overcome those negative feelings. Couple counseling can also help improve mutual understanding and acceptance in a relationship, allowing you to feel more comfortable during intimacy.
Most men who experience Erectile Dysfunction think it’s just a part of aging – and that there’s nothing that can be done beyond taking the “Little Blue Pill.” These are the PDE5 inhibitors, and the three brand names you’ll know are Viagra (sildenafil), Cialis (tadalafil), and Levitra (vardenafil). These work to increase the production of nitric oxide (NO), which creates vasodilation. While the “LBP” is the most common treatment option, as far as the advertisements tell you, the pounding headache that’s a side effect of this drug class is enough to dissuade many.
The production of testosterone and other hormones naturally decreases with age, and this can disrupt erections. Also, in rare instances, kidney failure and liver disease may throw off the balance of hormones necessary for proper erection and intercourse. In most cases, testosterone replacement therapy can bring levels of the hormone back to normal.
Erectile dysfunction is when you can’t get or maintain an erection adequate for sexual intercourse. It’s also called impotence and ED. Men of all ages can get ED from time to time, but some men experience it regularly.