Erectile Dysfunction, Medication and Your Relationship

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Previously taboo men’s medical issues such as erectile dysfunction and prostate cancer are now regularly in the headlines. Men are beginning to pay attention to the physical problems that can cause loss of life or loss of sexual function.

Though some estimates say there may be 30 million men in the U.S. who have erectile concerns, maybe only half of them seek treatment. Not all partners of these men either want or encourage them to seek treatment. Some partners are simply glad not to be “bothered” anymore. And, still in this day and age, many doctors are as hesitant as their patients to bring up the question about erectile function.

Seeking treatment, whether or not for sexual interests, is important, as erectile issues may be a signal of serious disease, including clogged arteries or high blood pressure. If you are having any difficulty in achieving or maintaining an erection, I encourage you to see your physician. In addition to achieving an erection, it may save your life.

There are now three drugs on the market to help with erectile difficulties. I’m not a medical doctor, but I have a variety of resources for medical information. I was interested in finding out how I may best explain to my clients the differences between and among the three drugs currently on the market to help men with erection difficulties.

My physician consultant said this, “For the most part it is often physician preference, though one drug may simply work better for an individual than one of the others.”

These drugs have been demonstrated to be effective for both physical and psychological causes of erectile problems. Sometimes, lengthier untreated, concerns are more resistant to treatment. Over time, both of you have accommodated to the lack of erection. Unfortunately, many couples, especially where communication about sex is lacking, drift toward the complete termination of sexual relations.

So, now you can experience an enhanced erection, but it will not increase either your sexual desire (libido) or the receptivity of your partner.

How will this new ability to get an erection affect other factors in your relationship? I expect it will have great impact. Some men do not initiate sex because they fear they will fail to get a firm erection. Greater confidence and erections means a more satisfying sex life.

Will the use of this drug delay a man or woman from leaving a bad relationship, or allow a good relationship to continue? Will it deceive a partner into believing that he/she is really loved and wanted? I tend to believe that these drugs, and any other drug it their type that comes down the pike will not profoundly change the manner in which men and women relate to each other. Sex and relationships are complex, and simple solutions provide limited benefits.

A couple of words about what these drugs do not do: they do not make men good listeners that drug, unfortunately, is still a very long way off. They do not make men desire their partners more, make them better lovers, increase their passion or do most things that people would like it to do. There’s obviously a great danger of your having unrealistic expectations.

With the availability of these drugs, you are more likely to bring your sexual questions directly to your primary care physician. Hopefully, your concern about erections will translate into paying more attention to your overall health. It will give you the opportunity to have your physical symptoms evaluated to rule out many conditions that need to be addressed prior to prescribing them for you. Your doctor will find that they are easy to prescribe, effective in most cases, and almost free of side effects. This is a wonderful advancement! Please proceed with caution and examine where it fits into your relationship.

Medication is not a complete cure for sexual problems. It can be an important part of a treatment plan. Medication will not improve struggling relationships, issues with self esteem, or the basic nature of a relationship. Erectile problems are best treated with medication and sexual therapy. Only using medication is like buying a new tool without a manual or training.

Some Frequently Asked Questions

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What are these drugs and how do they work?

The effect on erection was discovered accidently. It was initially tested for heart disease, but failed. When researchers asked for it back, many of the test patients refused to return it. The researchers soon realized the unexpected side effect of improving erection.

They work by prolonging smooth muscle relaxation (and hence erection) and widening, and improves blood flow to the erection chambers within the penis, and to the pelvic area in general.

What should I worry about?

In general, you should know there is a degree of risk to the heart with any physical activity. A thorough medical history and physical examination by a physician can rule out other diseases that can be present and contributing to your erection problems, and to be sure that you can handle the physical exertion of sex.

They should not be combined with other medications for treatment of erection problems; safety studies have not been done yet. There are also unsafe drug combinations. Be completely open and honest with your physician and pharmacist, and please only take these drugs with a prescription by your physician. Do not buy them over the internet, or borrow from your friend.

How much to take and when to take it.

Each of these medications has a specific dosage, reaction time to the drug and longevity of drug response. Please check with your physician about your particular prescription.

Important stuff you should know.

They are not aphrodisiacs. They will not increase your sexual desire. They are not a sexual device or stimulant.

They improve the erectile function of your penis, but still requires appropriate sexual stimulation to help bring about a useful erection for intercourse. Taking a tablet with little additional sexual stimulation is unlikely to lead to a good erection. All the good, old inputs are necessary and might include your partner, your mood, the setting, music, aroma, and other erotic stimuli. Each of these may enhance the quality of the erection and the overall experience.

Please do yourself a favour, don’t just pop one pill, get a poor erection, and feel the medication and you have failed. You need to give the medication four or five tries to have a good idea whether it will help you or not. Anticipation, the anxiety of the situation, and expectations for your performance can make the first attempts less than perfect.

Can a woman use them?

The drug has not been approved for use by women, but some doctors will prescribe it. A study was started to examine whether it would help women with their sexual desire. It was soon found that it did not help with libido, and the study was stopped. Anecdotally, some women who have tried them report a sensation of warmth and openness, probably resulting from increased blood flow to the pelvic area, which has given them an additional, pleasurable response to genital stimulation and intercourse.

Call your physician if you have any questions or problems.

© Dr. David Hersh