What Treatments Are Available to Combat Male Impotence?

The Most Recent Advances in the Treatment of Erectile Dysfunction

Viagra tablets.
Tablets of Viagra. Peter Dazeley/Photographer's Choice/Getty Images

Impotence is one of the most common forms of male sexual dysfunction. In fact, one in every 10 men has a problem achieving and/or sustaining an erection at some point or another. If you have struggled with this yourself, it's worth seeking out medical help. Due to advances in this area, there are multiple treatments available that you may find effective.


It is estimated that up to 90 percent of erectile problems have a psychological cause.

This encompasses everything from relationships difficulties to performance anxiety even more complex psychological issues. An experienced counselor or therapist can help. You can learn techniques to decrease your anxiety and stress that you may associate with sex. Your partner may also learn how to help with these techniques.

Lifestyle Changes to Eliminate Underlying Causes

Erectile dysfunction (ED) is linked to several lifestyle habits that you can modify. ED can be the motivation it may take for you to address these. These changes will reduce your health risks even if you opt for other forms of treatment.

    Vacuum Pump Treatments

    A vacuum pump is a plastic, cylindrical device that is placed over the penis. Sucking out air from the tube creates pressure that causes blood to be forced into the penis. A ring can then be applied temporarily to the base of the penis to stop the blood from draining away too quickly, thereby sustaining the erection.

    This may be a preferable treatment to using medications as there is no ongoing expense or risk of drug interactions.

    Medication Treatments

    There are multiple medications that have been developed for the treatment of erectile dysfunction. The oral medications work by enhancing the effects of nitric oxide, allowing more blood flow into the penis. They require sexual stimulation for you to have an erection.

    • Viagra (sildenafil) is one of the best-known medications for erectile dysfunction. It takes effect within an hour and usually lasts for three to four hours.
    • Cialis (tadalafil) must be taken 30 minutes before sexual activity.
    • Levitra or Staxyn (vardenafil) must be taken from 10 minutes to one hour prior to sexual activity. It can be effective for up to 12 hours.
    • Stendra (avanafil) can be taken 15 minutes before sexual activity.

    These medications produce an erection without requiring sexual stimulation:

    • Muse (alprostadil) intraurethral therapy is a small pellet of a medication that is put directly into the urethra. The drug is then absorbed into the erectile tissue of the penis. It provides an erection within five to 10 minutes.
    • Alprostadil or combination medication self-injections: You inject the medication directly into the shaft of the penis whenever you want to have sex. The medication usually works within about 15 minutes.

      Alternative medicine supplements are widely marketed but the FDA has issued warnings about "herbal Viagra" as they can contain potentially harmful drugs in unknown dosages. They are especially dangerous for men who take nitrates and shouldn't take the prescription oral medications for ED. Sometimes the supplements illegally contain the prescription medication and there can be a dangerous interaction.

      Hormone Treatments

      Hormonal problems are rarely the cause of impotence, though some find hormone replacement therapy to be effective. Hormone replacement therapy to boost your levels of testosterone should only be pursued after undergoing tests to confirm a deficiency.

      Penile Prosthesis Treatments

      You should not consider a penile prosthesis (implant) until other forms of treatment have been tried. There are two types of penile implants:

      • Semi-rigid penis implant: this implant keeps the penis rigid all the time. The penis can be bent downwards when you're not having sex.
      • Hydraulic penis implant: a pump is implanted into the scrotum.

      Surgical Treatments

      There are a number of surgical procedures that can be carried out if, for example, there are abnormalities in the blood flow in and out of your penis.

      A Word From Verywell

      If you are struggling with erectile dysfunction, there are many forms of treatment that can help. ED can signal that you have other health problems, so it is wise to get a checkup to assess your health. Discuss your options with your doctor to find the best treatment for your lifestyle.


      Erectile Dysfunction. Mayo Clinic. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/erectile-dysfunction/home/ovc-20314087.

      Erectile Dysfunction. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/urologic-diseases/erectile-dysfunction.