Erectile dysfunction is a condition of not being able to maintain or get an erection firm enough for sex. In the majority of cases, it is caused by an underlying health condition. One in four Canadian men, above the age of 40, has ED. In some cases, treating the underlying health condition reverses ED. Medications and other treatment options may be required in others.

If you are looking for treatment options to manage erectile dysfunction, check them out below.

Prescription Medicines

It is the first-line treatment for men with ED. There are different types of medicines available to manage erectile dysfunction While they all boost your sexual activity by increasing blood flow to the penis, each medication works differently.

The most common group of drugs used for ED are phosphodiesterase type 5 (PDE5) inhibitors. These medicines block the enzyme responsible for ED. But if you have a health condition, such as heart disease, it may not be safe for you to take these drugs.

So, discuss your health conditions and medicines you are taking with your doctor. This can help them decide the best suitable medicine in your case.

Some common medicines are:


Avanafil is a PDE5 inhibitor and needs to be taken 15 minutes before sex. You should avoid taking it more than once a day. Besides, you should not take this medicine if you are taking nitrates to treat heart disease. Taking both the medication together may significantly lower your blood pressure and even death in some cases.


Tadalafil is an oral medicine that boosts blood flow to all your body parts, including the penis. This medicine should be taken about 30 minutes before sex and may work for 36 hours. It should not be taken more than once a day.


Sildenafil is also a PDE5 inhibitor. It needs to be taken once orally, about 30 minutes to an hour before sex.

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Vardenafil is also a PDE5 inhibitor. You need to take medicine 60 minutes before sex and take it not more than once a day.

Side Effects of Prescription Medicines

Some common side effects include:

  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Headache
  • Upset stomach
  • Vision changes, such as a change in the appearance of specific colors or blurry vision
  • Flushing
  • Back pain
  • Muscle aches

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Medicines such as Alprostadil are available as an injectable solution. You can inject the drug into your penis about 5 to 20 minutes before having sex. You can use it up to three times a week with a mandatory lapse of a minimum of 24 hours between injections.

Side effects of injections involve burning in the urethra and pain in the testicles and penis.

Penis Suppository

Alprostadil is also available as a suppository. With Medicated Urethral System for Erections (MUSE), this medicine should be used 5 to 10 minutes before sex. The penis suppository should not be used more than twice within 24 hours.

Common side effects include burning in the urethra and pain in the penis and testicles.

Testosterone Replacement

Testosterone is the primary sex hormone in men and plays a vital role in overall health.

Its level may naturally drop with age and cause the following problems:

  • Low sex drive
  • Weight gain
  • Fatigue
  • Reduced sperm count

In many ED cases, doctors may prescribe testosterone. In fact, prescription medicines are most effective when used along with testosterone therapy, if the hormone levels are less.

However, the therapy comes with risks. Testosterone is seen to increase the risk of stroke or heart attack. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advises testosterone in men who have lower testosterone levels due to an underlying health condition.

Moreover, if you are on testosterone, your doctor will monitor you. They will also get your testosterone levels checked, both before and during the treatment. If your testosterone levels are higher than normal, your doctor may advise a lower dose or stop it completely.

Some common side effects of testosterone are:

  • Male breasts
  • Swelling due to fluid retention
  • Sleep apnea
  • Acne
  • Prostate growth
  • Moodiness
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Testosterone for ED is available in many forms, including:

  • Transdermal gel
  • Transdermal cream
  • Nasal gel
  • Transdermal solution
  • Transdermal patch
  • Oral tablet
  • Oral capsule
  • Pellet implant
  • Solution for intramuscular injection
  • Topical gel

Penis Pump (Vacuum Erection Device)

This treatment therapy involves the creation of an implant to trigger an erection. Using the device draws blood in the penis, resulting in an erection

A vacuum pump consists of:

  • A plastic tube to be placed on the penis
  • A pump that generates a vacuum
  • An elastic ring that needs to be moved to the base of the penis while removing the plastic tube

The elastic ring of the device aids in holding blood in the penis, maintaining the erection, and preventing the blood from returning to circulation. You can keep the device in place for 30 minutes.

Penile Implant

A penile prosthesis or penile implant is a surgery that involves placing flexible or inflatable rods in the penis. 

The rods need a device to be filled with saline solution and a pump in the scrotum. Pressing the pump transfers saline solution into the device, inflating it, resulting in an erection. You can deflate the device after use.

This surgery is mainly advised to men who have tried different ED treatments but in vain.

You are an ideal candidate for the surgery if:

  • You have ED that impairs your life
  • You have tried different prescriptions without success
  • You have a condition that may not improve with other treatment types, such as Peyronie’s disease
  • You have tried a penis pump

You can select among the following different implant types

Three-Piece Implant

It is the most common type of inflatable device used. This device includes putting a fluid reservoir below the abdominal wall. The release valve and pump are placed in the scrotum, and two inflatable cylinders are implanted inside the penis. It may be the most extensive type of surgery but offers the most rigid erection.

Two-Piece implant

Here, the reservoir is part of the pump placed in the scrotum. This type of surgery is less complicated, but the erection is less firm than three-piece content. While this device may need more effort, it requires less hand dexterity. 

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Semirigid Implants

This surgery involves the use of semirigid rods that are not inflatable. Once the rods are implanted, they stay firm all time. You can bend the penis away from the body or position it against the body during sex.

A variant of the semirigid implant has multiple segments with a spring at the end. This allows for better positioning.

Surgery with semirigid implants is simpler than that with inflatable implants. Semirigid rods are less likely to malfunction and easier to use. However, the rods may put steady pressure on the penis that would be harder to conceal. 

Blood Vessel Surgery

Vascular reconstructive surgery or blood vessel surgery is a way to boost blood flow to the penis to help a man to get and maintain an erection. As the operation is technically difficult, does not always work, and costly, doctors rarely advise this surgery.

Lifestyle Treatment

While ED can affect any man regardless of age or fitness level, the following factors increase the risk of ED:

  • Smoking
  • Excessive drinking
  • Relationship issues
  • Poor diet
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Stress and depression
  • Psychological problems

The good news is that lifestyle modifications can help manage or prevent ED. Some common ones include:

  • Exercise regularly
  • Eat a healthy diet
  • Quit smoking
  • Manage stress
  • Treat the underlying health condition

Final Thoughts

Erectile dysfunction is a common condition, and, in many cases, it is possible to improve ED symptoms. Various medicines and treatment options are available to treat ED. Devices such as vacuum pumps can help to manage ED symptoms to help you engage in sex.

An ideal treatment plan depends on factors such as an underlying health condition and severity of ED. Your doctor will closely work with you and discuss the risks and benefits related to each treatment type.

It is important to understand that ED is a common condition, and it is possible to manage it. So, if you have ED symptoms, discuss it with your doctor at the earliest.

Read more about causes of erectile dysfunction here.

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