Erection Treatments in a Nutshell
In 30 Seconds
- Turning your penis from flacid to formidable requires multiple inputs from your vascular, nervous and hormonal systems, according to Dr Earim Chaudry. Plus, this is combined with a strong psychosexual urge.
- 40% of men under 40 have experienced some form of erectile dysfunction (ED).
- As well as natural remedies and the ‘common sense’ mantras of stress less, exercise, maintain a healthy body mass and moderate your alcohol consumption there are a host of pharmacological solutions designed to take your ‘oh no’ firmly into ‘oh yes’ territory.
- These include sildenafil, tadalafil, vardenafil and avanafil.
Good men deserve great sex. But, while erections are not necessarily common conversational fodder, we all have the same concerns. Strong, fit and productive erections are not only your birthright but also a matter of hard science. Looking for erectile dysfunction treatment options? Here’s a run down of the latest ways to get harder, stronger erections. All the sex. No big deal.
An Erection: The Science Part
Turning your penis from flacid to formidable requires multiple inputs from your vascular, nervous and hormonal systems, according to Dr. Earim Chaudry. Plus, this is combined with a strong psychosexual urge. Firstly, your penis is stimulated either directly through touch or indirectly through visual or aural stimulation. This activates the limbic system in your brain, which sends electrical signals via the lower regions of your spinal cord down to your erectile nerve centre.
The second stage is all about your plumbing. Engorgement happens thanks to your nervous system stimulus whereby nitric oxide, a Herculean blood vessel dilator, is released into the arteries and smooth muscle of your penis. Subsequently, your penis becomes engorged with blood. At the same time, your bulbospongiosus and ischiocavernosus muscles in your penis constrict to stop the veins draining any blood out. The result? You maintain your erection.
Stage three happens once the stimulus is removed and stage two reverses. Your penis returns to its normal, resting state. And relax.
Fighting The Battle Against Erectile Dysfunction
Now you know the science, it may be easier to see what is shackling your impressive, award-winning erection. First of all, don’t panic. Erectile dysfunction is common in all age groups and can affect most men at some stage in their lives.
The potential issues are different at stage one and stage two. In the first stage, things that may hamper your psychological ability to become stimulated will prevent your nervous system from doing its job. Anecdotally, erectile dysfunction in younger age groups (under 40) tends to be a psychogenic issue around performance anxiety.1 Relax. You don’t need to be a porn star and nerves are natural. Talk to your partner, set the mood and don’t rush things.
Aged between 40 and 70, stats have estimated that 50% of men will have some degree of erectile dysfunction.2 For this age group it’s thought that there’s often more of a physical issue around blood flow (so stage two).
Thankfully, we are not living in the dark ages. As well as natural remedies and the ‘common sense’ mantras of stress less, exercise, maintain a healthy body mass and moderate your alcohol consumption – there are a host of pharmacological solutions designed to take your ‘oh no’ firmly into ‘oh yes’ territory.
How it works: It increases blood flow to the penis, which relaxes the smooth muscle of the penis and results in an erection. It comes in different brands, of which Viagra is the most common. Sildenafil is the active ingredient in Viagra and has exactly the same effect.
Effectiveness: The effect is visible between 30-60 minutes after taking the drug.3 It lasts for around eight hours on average. Scientific evidence has shown that the drug is effective in managing erectile dysfunction – at least two-thirds of men who use it reported improvement in their condition.4
Side Effects: Common side effects of Sildenafil include a headache, hot flushes; including facial flushing, indigestion, blurred vision, a stuffy nose, and dizziness.5
How it works: It reduces the impact of nitric oxide synthase and increases blood flow to the penis.6 It comes in different brands of which Cialis is the most common.
Effectiveness: Tadalafil should be taken 30 mins before sexual activity.7 Its effect begins within 60-120 minutes of taking the medication. It has a half-life of around 17.5 hours.8 A clinical trial with 384 participants showed it to be an effective and well-tolerated treatment for erectile dysfunction.9
Side Effects: These include dyspepsia, headaches, facial flushing, nasal congestion, back pain, myalgias, abdominal pain, and dizziness.10
How it works: Vardenafil belongs to a group of medications called phosphodiesterase (PDE) inhibitors. It works by increasing the flow of blood to the penis during sex; helping to cause an erection. Vardenafil does not increase sexual desire or cure erectile dysfunction.11 It comes in various brands of which Levitra is the most well-known.
Effectiveness: The effect can begin as early as 30-60 minutes after taking the tablet. Vardenafil lasts on average around 10 hours. A clinical trial comparing the effectiveness of Sildenafil, Tadalafil, and Vardenafil showed that Vardenafil is as effective as Sildenafil.12
Side Effects: Common side effects include a headache, upset stomach, heartburn, flushing, stuffy or a runny nose, and flu-like symptoms. In complicated situations, mainly when used in excess, Vardenafil may cause an erection that lasts for more than four hours, sudden severe loss of vision, blurred vision, changes in colour vision, sudden decrease or loss of hearing, ringing in ears, swelling of body parts, hoarseness, difficulty breathing or swallowing, fainting, hives, and rash.13
How it works: Like Vardenafil, Avanafil works by increasing blood flow to the penis through the inhibition of phosphodiesterase action.
Effectiveness: Avanafil works within 15-30 minutes after taking it. It has a half life of 3-6 hours. In ‘difficult to treat’ cases of erectile dysfunction it can be helpful. According to Medscape: “Avanafil is well-tolerated and effective in the treatment of erectile dysfunction in post prostatectomy patients who are diabetic, 65 years and older, and who have severe or long-term” erectile issues.14
Side Effects: The common side effects include headaches, flushing, cold symptoms, diarrhea, dizziness, constipation, upper respiratory tract infections, influenza, bronchitis, back pain, joint pains, and high blood pressure.