Medically reviewed by Kristin Hall, FNP
Written by Our Editorial Team
Last updated 3/05/2021
Erectile dysfunction can be either a short-term or long-term issue which begs the question: can it be cured?
Below, we’ve delved into the causes of erectile dysfunction to help you understand how it happens and why. We’ve also answered the question of whether ED can be cured and provided detailed information about the top erectile dysfunction treatment options.
Erectile dysfunction is a condition in which a man is unable to achieve or maintain an erection firm enough for satisfying sex.
Statistics from the Massachusetts Male Aging Study suggest over 50 percent of men aged 40 to 70 experience ED at some point in their life.
Because the process of male sexual arousal is so complex, it can be difficult to identify the underlying cause of ED. In fact, there may be multiple causative factors.
In many cases, erectile dysfunction is related to a physical issue such as heart disease or diabetes, but psychological and lifestyle risk factors can also play a role.
It’s completely normal to occasionally experience erectile difficulties, but if you frequently have trouble achieving or maintaining an erection, you might have ED.
Here are some of the potential causes of erectile dysfunction:
Cardiovascular health issues
High blood pressure
Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes
Sleep disorders such as sleep apnea
Neurological diseases like Parkinson’s
Enlarged prostate or prostate cancer
Stress, anxiety, or depression
Erectile dysfunction can also be a side effect of certain medications like blood pressure drugs, antidepressants or prescription sedatives. Additional risk factors include smoking, using illegal drugs, being overweight and drinking too much alcohol.
Erectile dysfunction is a clinical condition that can be treated. If you’re experiencing symptoms of ED, such as trouble achieving an erection, difficulty maintaining an erection or loss of interest in sexual activity, talk to your healthcare provider.
Again, ED can be a short-term or long-term issue but you don’t have to suffer through it for months to make it a legitimate concern.
Talk to your healthcare provider as soon as you experience multiple incidents, particularly if you can’t connect the issue to something like consuming alcohol or taking medication immediately prior to sexual activity.
They can help you determine which treatment option is best for your situation.
If you’re looking for an ED cure, know there are no guarantees.
If your erectile dysfunction is related to an underlying health issue, however, treating the health issue may prove to be an ED cure in and of itself.
Just remember that ED is a complex issue that can be caused by numerous factors. An ED cure that resolves one factor may not ameliorate them all.
While there may not be any such thing as an ED cure, treatment options do exist. In fact, most cases of erectile dysfunction are fairly easy to treat. Talk to your healthcare provider to discuss the options then choose the treatment or combination of treatments that seems like the best fit.
Here are the top six treatment options for erectile dysfunction:
Sildenafil is a quick-acting medication that usually works within 30 minutes and the effects last between three and five hours.
Tadalafil is the active ingredient in Cialis, another popular ED medication. Like sildenafil, it is a PDE5 inhibitor, which means it relaxes the blood vessels and improves blood flow to the penis.
Tadalafil typically works within 60 minutes of consumption, but it lasts much longer than sildenafil, up to 36 hours. For this reason it is sometimes known as the “weekend” ED cure.
Avanafil is the active ingredient in Stendra, the newest ED medication on the market. It works very quickly, usually in less than 30 minutes, and may have a lower prevalence of side effects compared to other ED drugs.
It is a PDE5 inhibitor as well, but is clinically proven to work as soon as 15 minutes after being taken.
In cases where erectile dysfunction isn’t caused by physiological factors, psychological treatment might help.
Mental health disorders like anxiety and depression can affect the way you think about sex and may also affect your libido. Both of these can make it more difficult for you to achieve and maintain an erection when you want to.
If you suspect your ED is caused by psychological factors, there are several treatment options.
Counseling may help you identify the factors contributing to your psychological issues and give you skills and tools to cope with them.
Sex therapy is another option you can explore on your own or with your partner to overcome your ED.
If ED medications or psychological treatment don’t seem like the right fit for you, there’s another option: ED treatment devices.
This includes external penile support devices, penile vibrators, vacuum erectile devices, and penile implants.
Erectile technology has been advancing rapidly in recent years, so there are more options available now than there used to be.
Vacuum devices work by pulling blood into the penis using a pump.
After you’ve achieved an erection, you place an elastic ring around the base of your penis to prevent blood from flowing back into your body.
Inflatable implanted devices serve a similar purpose.
New erectile technologies include options like the Erektor®, an external penile support device which consists of two rings attached to a rigid rod.
To use this device, you place the shaft of your penis along the rod within the rings to provide support.
It may be an option for men seeking noninvasive and nonpharmacological treatment, but its efficacy has yet to be documented.
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, as the saying goes.
If you’re looking for an ED cure, making changes to your lifestyle and habits could be beneficial.
Even if you already struggle with erectile dysfunction, making healthy lifestyle changes could help resolve your condition without the use of medication.
Here are some lifestyle habits you could try to prevent ED:
Follow a healthy diet that supports healthy body weight as well as normal blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
Engage in regular physical activity to keep your heart healthy and to promote proper circulation.
Moderate your alcohol consumption to reduce the risk of alcohol-induced ED episodes.
Talk to your healthcare provider about any medications you’re taking, especially those that might affect circulation and erectile function.
Take steps to reduce and control your stress levels — including relationship stress.
Stop smoking and avoid using tobacco products, which can affect circulation and trigger or worsen ED.
Erectile dysfunction is a complex issue that may take time to resolve. If you’re struggling with ED, don’t delay in talking to your healthcare provider.
The sooner you acknowledge the issue, the sooner you and your healthcare provider can come to an agreement about treatment.
If you want to learn more about ED medication, check out our guide to the most common erectile dysfunction treatments. This guide covers sildenafil, tadalafil, vardenafil, and avanafil in detail to give you a comprehensive understanding of the treatment options that are out there.
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