What are some non-drug treatments for erectile dysfunction?

Because erectile dysfunction (ED) is complicated, it can be difficult to determine the cause (or causes). As a result, it can also be difficult to determine an effective treatment. Medications are not always the answer. Below are a few other treatment options for ED:
  • Vacuum-assisted erection devices. A vacuum pump and constriction band is used to help obtain and maintain an erection for up to 30 minutes. This is one of the least invasive treatments for ED.
  • Androgen (testosterone) replacement therapy. If it is determined a man has low levels of testosterone, it may be possible to use testosterone replacement therapy to help treat ED along with other symptoms of low testosterone.
  • Penile prosthesis (or implant). Either bendable rods (the simplest device) or inflatable (easier to hide) implants are surgically inserted into the erection chambers of the penis. This procedure is only done when there is a clear medical cause of ED.
  • Drug-eluting stent (DES). In this experimental procedure, a tiny, metal mesh tube is placed in one or both of the internal pudendal arteries to increase blood flow to the penis. This potential intervention is in the very early stages of clinical trials and will not be appropriate for everyone with ED. But in the future, it may be an innovative and life-changing option for some men who have atherosclerosis (clogging) in the arteries that supply blood to the penis.
Jan L. Shifren, MD
Reproductive Endocrinology
Men who can't or don't want to use medications can opt for mechanical devices that assist in producing an erection, maintaining an erection, or both.

Vacuum pump. This device consists of an airtight plastic cylinder that's attached to a manual or battery-operated handheld pump. You insert your penis into the cylinder and pump out the air, which increases blood flow to the penis. It takes about five minutes to get an erection. At that point, you fit a rubber ring around the base of the penis to prevent the blood from draining away. The erection lasts until the ring is removed. Some men find the pump hard to use, the process may be disruptive to lovemaking, and the man's erection does not feel as natural as one produced with medication. But the device is very effective and causes no side effects.

Penile band. If you can get an erection but lose it because of leakage of blood from veins in the penis, you may find a penile band helpful. This band is fastened around the base of the penis to prevent blood from escaping. Available without a prescription under the brand names Actis and Erexel, the bands are very effective when used properly.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.