Is the Inability to Sustain an Erection Permanent?
In the last couple of weeks I've been unable to sustain an erection during sex. Is this a permanent problem, or is there something that I can do to solve it?
Many men will report difficulty getting or keeping an erection from time to time. Although certainly frustrating, these occasional problems aren't normally a cause for concern. If the problems continue, however, it may make sense to visit your healthcare provider. You could have erectile dysfunction.
Erectile dysfunction describes the repeated inability to get or keep an erection firm enough for successful sexual intercourse. It can be a total inability to achieve erection, an inconsistent ability to do so, or a tendency to sustain only brief erections.
The condition is also sometimes called "impotence." The term impotence can also be used to describe other sexual problems, such as lack of sexual desire or problems with ejaculation. Using the term "erectile dysfunction" makes it clear that those other problems are not involved.
Whether your current erection difficulties are permanent or not depends largely on the particular cause. There can be several reasons a man has erection problems. Some of the more common reasons may include:
- Medical conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes, or high blood pressure
- Lifestyle factors, such as smoking, drinking alcohol, or taking drugs
- Certain prescription medications, such as antidepressants or medications to treat heart disease
- Psychological factors, such as depression, stress, or anxiety
- Surgery or injury to the penis, spinal cord, prostate, bladder, or pelvis.
Most physicians suggest that the treatments for erectile dysfunction (ED) proceed from the least invasive to the most invasive. Depending on the particular cause of the problem, treatment options may include:
- Lifestyle changes
- Talk therapy
- Medical devices.
Erectile dysfunction medications are often given to help men who are having difficulty sustaining an erection. Currently available products include:
- Cialis® (tadalafil)
- Levitra® (vardenafil)
- Staxyn™ (orally disintegrating vardenafil)
- Stendra™ (avanafil)
- Viagra® (sildenafil citrate).
These medications all belong to a class of drugs called phosphodiesterase type-5 (PDE-5) inhibitors. They do not treat the underlying cause of erectile dysfunction. Also, they cannot be used in certain men, such as those who take medications known as nitrates. However, these drugs work well for most men who have trouble getting or keeping an erection.
If you are currently having erection problems that interfere with your ability to have sex, make an appointment to see your healthcare provider. Your healthcare provider will ask you questions and complete a physical exam to help figure out the underlying cause of your problem. He or she may also order lab tests or other tests. Once a diagnosis has been made, your healthcare provider can tell you whether your problem is likely to be permanent, and can discuss the best treatment options for your individual situation.