Frequently asked questions about Erectile Dysfunction

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What’s wrong with me?

Is it quite common?

Yes. Erection difficulties are very common: they affect one out of five Spaniards.

Can it cause other sexual problems?

Often, it may occur or coexist as premature ejaculation or as a decreased sexual desire. It is normal feeling confused, sad or angry, as well as it is also very common developing an aversion toward sex.

What solutions are available?

In general, most treatments are effective and safe, and there are options for nearly all patients. Therefore, it is important to express to your doctor –it would be better if your partner is present– all your doubts and expectations in regarding the treatment.

What tests will I undergo?

How and why the diagnosis is made?

First of all, it is basic to understand what we are facing. Basically, there are two main causes of erection problems: psychological and organic ones.

It would be good to take pills, no?

No. Erectile dysfunction can occur due to curable causes and it might be related with heart problems. Therefore, a proper diagnosis is required before starting the treatment.

Can erectile dysfunction cause other disturbances in the sexual sphere?

In addition, erection problems may reflect other changes from the sexual sphere, such as premature ejaculation and decreased sexual desire.

Will they take an ultrasound of my penis?

In some cases of Erectile Dysfunction the doctor will take an ultrasound to measure arterial blood pressure in the penis and an X-ray to obtain accurate anatomical data. Nevertheless, before any testing is carried out, the patient’s relevant medical history is recorded to discover when the sexual desire and erectile problems started, if there are any lesions that could be causing the dysfunction and what medicines the patient is taking, among other factors. Patients are also asked to complete a symptoms questionnaire, a physical examination and a blood test.

What treatments are available?

Can Erectile Dysfunction be cured?

If we are able to find the underlining cause of the problem, it is possible to find a solution by targeting the origin. Therefore, sexual therapy treatment –in erectile dysfunction cases of a psychological origin– or promoting healthy lifestyles –regarding vascular erectile dysfunction– can be effective and reverse the problem.

Viagra® pills work? Are they safe?

Yes, they work and they are safe. Drugs for erection (such as Viagra®, sildenafil, the most popular one) are completely effective and safe for treating problems of an organic cause. Therefore, they represent the most used strategy and they work in 4 out of 5 men.

What if the pills aren’t effective?

When pills do not work, it is possible to use other penile local treatments. As an example would be alprostadil drug (administered by an injection into the penis or using an applicator stem in the tube through which urine passes –urethra). In cases where there is no response to any drug, a penile prosthesis can be used. It will restore erection without detriment to penis’ sensitivity, ejaculation or orgasm.

Living with Erectile Dysfunction

I have erectile dysfunction… Do I have to give up?

Many men believe that when erection problems appear, sex life is over. However, this does not only include erection and penetration practices. On the other hand, in addition to exploring other sexual methods, it is possible to successfully identify and treat erection problems and restore the sex life.

Should it be explained it to my partner?

Yes. It is very likely that the patient’s partner is already aware of it. Discussing the problem with your partner will make one feel better and be supported by someone close. It is easier to find a solution together.

I’m embarrassed to go to the doctor…

To understand what is happening and to help you the best way possible, an honest communication between your doctor and your partner is advised. This act is aimed to clearly understand the causes underlying the problem. Moreover, this is the best approach to solve it, having in mind that there are a number of untruths and myths surrounding sex which can limit our vision of it.

When can I resume sexual activity following a surgical intervention?

You must have approval from your doctor; if the operation was completed without any complications, you can resume activity after approximately two weeks.

What should I do if it hurts?

You should stop and discuss it with your referral doctor.

When should I go to the doctor?

Visit your doctor: if you suffer from prolonged pain after sexual intercourse; if you notice local flushing or heat or symptoms associated with erection-enhancing drugs; or whenever the indicated treatment does not have the desired effect.

When can I use the prosthesis for the first time?

This depends on the type of prosthesis, surgical difficulty and your post-operative progress; you must have medical approval before using a prosthesis. Once you have medical authorisation it does not require any special care, you just need to bear in mind that you should discuss any painful sex or the appearance of local reddening and heat, if they occur, with your medical team.

Looking to the future

Which research lines are being carried out on Erectile Dysfunction?

Sexuality, as a basic human function, is the subject of continuous and intense research. This is focused on three basic points:

  • The development of more and better drugs; improving effectiveness of phosphodiesterase-5 inhibitors, especially in those cases where men do not respond to treatment;
  • Applying regenerative medicine –as stem cells– in the erection problems treatment;
  • Ultimately, the improvement and reducing the costs of penile implants is the best treatment in many cases of erection difficulties that do not respond to drugs.
Substantiated information by:
Eduardo García CruzUrologist — Urology DepartmentAscensión GómezNurse — Urology Department

Published: 20 February 2018
Updated: 20 February 2018

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