Medically reviewed by Katelyn Hagerty, FNP
Written by Our Editorial Team
Last updated 3/15/2021
When a medical condition is as old as time, there are bound to be new treatments hitting the market. Realistically, all current medical ED treatments could be considered “new.” After all, they’ve all evolved in the past several decades.
But science moves fast. And if you struggle with erectile dysfunction, you want the latest and best solution. We understand.
About half of all men between the ages of 40 and 70 have some form erectile dysfunction, or struggle getting or maintaining an erection. In some, this means a complete inability to get hard, while others may deal with inconsistent erection quality.
The cause of your ED could be related to blood flow (vascular), nerve signals (neurologic), psychological or hormonal issues, or a combination of these things. Conditions like diabetes, heart disease, certain types of cancer and even relationship problems or past experiences can all play a role in ED.
Sometimes, successful treatment of erectile dysfunction is just a matter of treating the underlying cause. Other times, a combination of treatments can help you regain your sexual prowess and confidence. Fortunately, there are a wide range of classic, effective treatments available, and some emerging treatments that could provide new options down the road.
Often, the first line of treatment for ED is lifestyle changes, and if there’s a chance the ED could be a result of a medication, medication changes, too.
But if those are attempted and no improvement is seen, you can turn to oral phosphodiesterase-5 inhibitors (PED5 inhibitors).
PDE5 inhibitors are the first choice for many healthcare professionals when it comes to the treatment of erectile dysfunction, and these drugs include sildenafil (Viagra® or generic Viagra), tadalafil (Cialis®), and vardenafil (Levitra®), among others.
Some formulas can be taken just before sexual interaction and others taken regularly, so you can respond-at-will when the mood strikes. While each medication differs, PDE5 inhibitors work in about 70 percent of men, and are generally easy to take.
Another option for men suffering with ED is injectables, or medications delivered via syringe directly into the penis.
Alprostadil is one such drug, which can also be delivered via a small pellet inserted into the urethra. As you might imagine, these medications can be unpleasant to administer, and therefore aren’t right for everyone.
A final, less invasive treatment for ED is vacuum therapy.
To use, the penis is inserted into the device’s tube, and a vacuum removes air from the tube, pulling blood into the penis.
While effective, vacuum devices are less popular with younger men because the erection quality seems less natural.
So, what’s new and upcoming? Well, developing new treatments for medical conditions like ED takes time and money — and a lot of both. But here are some newer options in various stages of development:
Okay, this one sounds scary, we know. But low-intensity shock wave treatment has shown promise in the treatment of numerous urological conditions.
It’s suggested that low wave shocks causes microtrauma to the penis membranes, which cause increased blood flow and endothelial function.
This all leads to better erectile function. But it’s early, and more research is needed to determine true effectiveness and safety.
Also in research stages, injecting genetic material into the penis may improve erectile function.
A small 11-patient study had encouraging results when a single dose of DNA was injected into the penis.
No adverse effects were reported, but clearly, 11 study subjects in a single-dose study isn’t enough to call this ready-for-the-world.
There have been promising results seen after the injection of stem cells in animal studies.
Because stem cells can grow into numerous types of cells, it’s believed they can benefit damaged or diseased tissues, including those in the penis.
A few preliminary human trials have affirmed these potential benefits over periods of six months.
Platelets, found in your blood, are known to play an important role in tissue regeneration, and some early research indicates injecting platelets and plasma proteins from your own blood into the penis could help treat ED, particularly in men who suffer from penile injuries.
Several different types of medications have been looked at as potential ED treatments, but few have shown very promising results.
For example, dopaminergic agents approved for ED in Europe did not gain FDA approval in the U.S. due to safety concerns.
And drugs known as melanocortin receptor agonists were abandoned as a potential solution due to serious side effects including severe hypertension.
Science is always evolving, and for a medical condition that affects so many men, new treatments will always be pursued.
However, for the past several decades PDE5 inhibitors have been the first choice for doctors when it comes to medical treatments for erectile dysfunction.
Though they may not work for everyone, they are truly the best first-line treatment we have, for now.
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