Dr Shrid's Blog

Should You Try Medication for Erectile Dysfunction?

Press headlines on impotence issues and what to do about them, with a stethoscope, on a wooden desk.If you’re struggling with your sexual performance, you’re not alone. We hear much more about erectile dysfunction today than we ever have, and this is a good thing. Part of the issue is that men may procrastinate in getting the help they deserve. Research estimates that more than 320 million men may be diagnosed with ED, the inability to get or maintain an erection, by 2025. That’s not very far off, so we’d better get to the important conversations of what to do to restore a full and healthy sex life. 

If there is any good news about erectile dysfunction, it’s that we are talking about it more. No man has to suffer in silence due to the prevalence of innovative new treatments, which are emerging all the time. FDA-approved drugs like Viagra and Cialis are common first-line remedies that have been proven over time. Here, we discuss more about them as a way to manage health and wellness in the face of ED.

How Erectile Dysfunction Medications Work

To explain how ED drugs work, we must first discuss how erectile dysfunction happens. Specifically, how the most common form of ED, vascular dysfunction, occurs. 

When a man becomes sexually aroused, his brain releases certain hormones. These travel through the bloodstream and act as chemical messengers to the penis. The chemical nitric oxide is a vasodilator that causes the blood vessels to relax and widen. Relaxed, widened blood vessels hold more blood. In the penis, this increase in blood is what causes erection. Vascular dysfunction occurs when plaque buildup prevents the blood vessels from relaxing fully or causes them to narrow too quickly. 

Erectile dysfunction drugs offset these problems. Viagra and Cialis are categorized as PDE5 inhibitors. They work in the same way as nitric oxide, causing tight blood vessels to relax so more blood can flow to the penis. In addition to quickly restoring the ability to get and maintain an erection, some of these drugs may help with urinary symptoms. Finally, but certainly not unimportant, the use of an ED drug can put an end to the performance anxiety that often results from just a few instances of erectile dysfunction. 

Do ED Drugs Increase Libido?

Some patients believe that erectile dysfunction drugs are sexual stimulants. They are not. They have no effect on libido other than to promote optimal confidence in this area of a man’s life. Taking Viagra or Cialis does not mean that a man will naturally get an erection within minutes. He and his partner still benefit from foreplay. The two, foreplay and ED drugs, work together because these drugs need the release of nitric oxide from the brain for effectiveness. As we mentioned, nitric oxide is released by the brain upon arousal. So, no arousal, no erection, even with an erectile dysfunction drug. For issues with getting aroused or increasing libido usually an evaluation of testosterone is performed. Conversely, testosterone therapy will not likely effect erection but may definitely help with libido. 

Men do not have to let ED be the end of their sex life. If you’re struggling with this common condition, don’t be shy. Contact our Chattanooga office at 423-778-4MEN (4636) to schedule an appointment with a specialist in men’s reproductive health, Dr. Anand Shridharani. 

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