An increasing number of men encounter the problem of erectile dysfunction. Everything goes smoothly until someday one feels that his masculine power is gone for some reason. Hearts break, families fall apart, dreams die, life is no longer as it used to be. That’s terrifying, indeed.
Erectile dysfunction, often referred to as impotence, is a condition when a patient is unable to get or keep erection to have sexual intercourse. Although the problem is mainly widespread among the men aged 40 and higher, it can often occur in those who are younger. Occasional inability to develop erection may not be a cause for concern, as there are many factors that can lead to a minor flaw in your body system. However, should you experience difficulty getting an erection for a long period of time, consult your doctor to thwart further undesirable consequences.
What goes wrong? Why does this happen?
The reasons behind the issue can vary tremendously. Even common stress or anxiety can be a hindrance to keeping an erection. Also, excessive or regular consumption of alcohol, smoking and substance abuse are known to cause such a problem as well.
Yet persistent erectile dysfunction can also sign of other health problems, either physical or mental. When it comes to physical causes, they mainly include blood flow diseases. Take atherosclerosis, for example. As arteries in the penis narrow, it cannot get the required amount of blood. Thus, a patient is unable to produce an erection. Among other possible causes are diabetes, high blood pressure, kidney disease, narrowing of blood vessels, obesity and high cholesterol, injuries in the pelvic area. To put it simply, lead a healthy lifestyle, and you are much less likely to experience any problems with erection.
Psychological causes of erectile dysfunction are carved deeply in a patient’s mind, and it may take considerable effort to cope with the problem. The inability to produce an erection can be brought about by chronic fear of intimacy, severe depression and low self-esteem.
Overall, physical causes prevail. However, they can coexist with psychological causes. In fact, they can complement one another. Positive feedback loop, so to speak.
If you think you may experience erectile dysfunction because of psychological breakdown, do not waste your time and find a psychologist. You will be surprised how helpful it can be.
Despite wreaking havoc in men’s lives, erectile dysfunction can be cured in most cases. And even if you won’t eliminate the problem completely, with the right approach and complex treatment, you’ll reduce the symptoms insomuch that they won’t bother you at all.
First of all, healthy lifestyle is absolutely essential, and on some occasions it can be enough to solve the problem. If you feel you consume to much fatty food, remove it from your diet and add more fruit and wholesome food instead. Likewise, there is no place for alcohol and cigarettes if you want your life back in order.
Some aerobic and Kegel exercises and yoga can also help do away with or at least reduce the symptoms of erectile dysfunction. During exercises, blood flow normalizes, the body becomes more resilient and the mind more clear.
Apart from that, an overwhelming number of patients do need drug treatment. There are many medications available to treat ED. But there only few that have won worldwide recognition. Among them are:
- sildenafil (Viagra)
- vardenafil (Levitra)
- tadalafil (Cialis)
- avanafil (Stendra)
All of these drugs are PDE5 inhibitors. Their purpose is to inhibit the degradation of cGMP, thereby prolonging its action. It is because of this element that men can keep an erection longer because blood vessels become relaxed, and blood pressure lowers.
How to take ED medications
All of the aforementioned medications have the same ultimate goal, which means that it’s up to you to choose whatever you want. You can also opt for generic variants of these drugs if branded ones put a strain on your budget. Regardless, consult your doctor and do some research to find out what suits you best.
Despite similar effect, ED drugs consist of different active ingredients, so, they can work differently, too. For example, Viagra is most effective when consumed on an empty stomach one hour or so before sexual intercourse. Normally, it works up to 5 hours. The same goes for Levitra, except it can be taken with or without food. Stendra is most effective if taken half an hour before sex with or without food and is in action around 6 hours. Cialis is taken one or two hours before sex and its action can last up to 36 hours.
Agree on the dosage with you doctor because self-treatment can only make things worse.
It is highly recommended to avoid any PDE5 inhibitors if you have excessively high or low blood pressure or heart problems because chances of heart attack increase. That’s because initially sildenafil, the active ingredient of Viagra, was used to treat problems with blood pressure. As a result, blood pressure can drop to a dangerously low level, especially when a patient takes other drugs with similar effect. Likewise, do not take ED drugs if you have serious kidney or liver problems. Besides, these medications interact with nitrates. In most cases, however, ED medications do not pose a threat to human’s life provided that a patient isn’t allergic to them and the dosage is strictly controlled.
Generally, ED medications do not cause any serious side effects. But you are likely to face with mild side effects. You can experience:
- stuffy nose
- blurred vision
When it comes to serious side effects, they occur only on rare occasions. Yet they do happen and may be particularly dangerous. Therefore, consulting a medical expert is a must. Serious side effects include:
- sudden loss of hearing on vision
- priapism (persistent painful erection)
- irregular heartbeat
- severe allergic reaction
- severe headache
- shortness of breath
- chest pain
- heart attack (extreme cases)
- stroke (extreme cases)
Rare though these side effects are, you must be careful. Should you experience any of these symptoms, immediately call your healthcare provider to avert catastrophic consequences.
As we already said, ED medications are not to be mixed with nitrates. Muscles relax, blood vessels widen and blood pressure drops. When taken together, these drugs double the effect, which is too dangerous and can often lead to lethal cases. The same goes for alpha blockers (tamsulosin, silodosin, terazosin) that lower blood pressure.
HIV protease inhibitors (zidovudine, lamivudine, abacavir), macrolide antibiotics (clarithromycin, erythromycin), azole antifungals (itraconazole, ketoconazole) and cimetidine may offset the efficacy of ED drugs.
Some antimicrobial drugs, if taken with ED medications, can slow the breakdown the latter, thereby increasing risk of side effects from them.
You had better abstain from alcohol too, because it can also lower blood pressure and the drug won’t be as effective as it is supposed to be. Fatty food is not recommended either, because ED drugs will need more time to take effect.
Note: As a disclaimer, we should mention that this article was created with the intention of providing educational materials. It cannot be viewed or used as a substitute for professional medical advice. We are not responsible for any health concerns.