When It’s Hard to Get Hard – Coping with Erectile Dysfunction

Overcoming Erectile Dysfunction: Causes and Treatments

Erectile dysfunction (ED) is a common condition that affects most men at some point. Here we explain what it is, what causes it, and the various treatment options available.

What is Erectile Dysfunction?

Erectile dysfunction is when a man struggles to get or maintain an erection firm enough for sexual intercourse. It can occur occasionally or be an ongoing issue.

While ED can feel frustrating, it is an extremely common problem. Understanding the causes and treatments can help find a solution.

What Causes Erectile Dysfunction?

There are various potential causes of erectile dysfunction:

  • Drinking too much alcohol or emotional issues like stress or anxiety. Exhaustion can also play a role.
  • Performance anxiety around sex can make it difficult to get an erection.
  • Health conditions like obesity, diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure increase the risk. Illnesses like Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis also make ED more likely.
  • Certain medications can cause ED as a side effect, so always check patient leaflets for this information.
  • Ageing can also be a factor, although ED is not an inevitable part of getting older.

Psychological Impact

As well as physical causes, the psychological impact of ED can make the problem worse. Struggling to get an erection can damage a man’s confidence and cause anxiety around sexual situations. This creates a vicious cycle where the pressure to perform makes ED more likely. Being open about the issue is important. Talking to your partner and working together to find solutions can help relieve the stress.

Treatments for Erectile Dysfunction

There are several options for treating erectile dysfunction:


Drugs like sildenafil (Viagra) and tadalafil (Cialis) enhance nitric oxide effects to relax the penile muscles. This increases blood flow and makes it easier to get an erection when aroused. These medications are very effective for many men.

It’s important to take erectile dysfunction drugs correctly for optimal results:

  • Take at the right dose and time as advised by your doctor. Higher doses do not increase effectiveness.
  • Allow 1 hour for Viagra and 2 hours for Cialis to start working before sexual activity. Food can delay absorption.
  • Only take one dose per day as instructed. More does not help and risks side effects.
  • Note drug interactions. Nitrates, guanylate cyclase stimulators and some hypertension drugs can cause complications.
  • Side effects like headaches, flushing and visual disturbance are common but not serious. Seek medical help for erections over 4 hours.

Penis Pumps

A penis pump is a hollow tube placed over the penis and pumped to create a vacuum. This draws blood into the penis to cause an erection. A tight ring can be applied to the base to maintain the erection for sex. Ask your doctor about trying this.

Using a penis pump takes some practice. It may take several attempts to find the right tension to create a firm erection. Using lubricant can help get a good seal. Never pump for longer than 30 minutes at a time to avoid damage.

Penile Implants

Surgical insertion of bendable rods or inflatable devices into the penis is an option if other treatments do not work. This ensures you can still get an erection. It is not first-line treatment but does have a high satisfaction rate.

Penile implant surgery is done under anesthesia and involves inserting the implants into the erectile tissue of the penis. Devices can be inflated manually or through a pump in the scrotum. Full recovery takes 4-6 weeks and complications like infection are rare.

Lifestyle Changes

As well as medications and devices, lifestyle changes can help improve erectile dysfunction:

  • Exercise improves blood flow and reduces causes like high blood pressure. Even a 30-minute daily walk makes a big difference.
  • Losing weight if overweight, as obesity contributes to ED.
  • Getting adequate rest, as tiredness is a factor.
  • Reducing stress, anxiety and depression through counselling or talking to your partner. This relieves pressure.
  • Cutting back on smoking, drugs and alcohol, as these make ED worse.
  • Eating a healthy balanced diet also optimizes blood flow. Limit saturated fats, sugar and salt and increase fruit, vegetables and whole grains.

When to Seek Help

Occasional issues with getting or maintaining an erection are normal. But if ED is persistent, see your doctor to identify potential causes. They can check for underlying conditions and provide treatments to help resolve the problem. Don’t suffer in silence – help is available.

Photo credit: “Sofa” by Anthony Cunningham for Zoom Baby

Zoom Baby is a leading supplier of Pregnancy Tests and Ovulation Test Kits

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