Erectile dysfunction is a condition that is estimated to affect approximately 50% of men over the age of 40. Erectile dysfunction should not be confused with the decline in libido. Men who experience a problem with erectile dysfunction are unable to achieve an erection for the length of the sexual act or to achieve orgasm while men who suffer from a decline in libido actually suffer from a decrease in desire but not an ability to perform.
Treatment for erectile dysfunction can range from oral medications, penile injections, penile implants or surgical interventions to reverse arterial damage. Many men will want to look at nonsurgical techniques to achieve their goals. While oral medications may work for many they are not helpful for all men. The secondary nonsurgical option are penile injections.
In the process of using a penile injection the man will insert medication into the base of the penis using a very small thin needle. The medication will cause the penis to have an erection almost immediately which can last for up to one to two hours. Using this type of adjunctive therapy is limited to not more than once a day and not more than three times a week.
This process has been found to be effective in patients who are undergoing kidney dialysis but the exact success rate is not known. The process is nonsurgical and minimally invasive and can be an alternative for the 30 to 40% of men who fail using oral medication.
Prior to determining a treatment protocol, the patient and his doctor should evaluate several different factors which are important to the success of the treatment. These factors include overall health and physical strength and tolerance as well as cause for the original condition and ability to learn to use specific treatments.
There are several different drugs which can be used and injected directly into the erectile tissue of the penis. The most commonly used are papaverine, phentolamine and prostaglandin E1 which can be taken as a single medication or in combination. These medications begin to work within 15 minutes and the effects of which will be felt for several hours.
Penile injection therapy must be used exactly as prescribed by the doctor. If it is not used correctly the result can be a prolonged erection during which the blood will fail to drain from the penis and cause permanent damage to the tissue. This condition is extremely painful. Therefore an individual who has a history of substance abuse would be a risky candidate for this type of therapy because success depends upon the exact use of the drug. Also it would be a difficult option for an individual with a spinal cord injury and limited hand function to use on his own.
Some men combine penile injection therapy with other options such as an external vacuum device to get the best results possible.
Prior to using penile injection therapy patients should discuss their full medical history with their doctor. Use of a vasodilator may not be the best option for those who have had heart disease, stroke or heart attack. If men have poor eyesight, are particularly squeamish, or poor coordination this technique may also not be the right one to use.
Other reported side effects include very small blood clots at the site of the injection, burning pain after the injection, damage to the urethra, and fibrous tissue build up at the site as the injection. Men who choose to use this option should also take precautions to avoid possible infections which may result from an injection into the side of the penis at a site that is nothing cleansed thoroughly.
While society has placed specific taboos on discussions about male impotence or erectile dysfunction in men who suffer from this condition should not suffer in silence. It is important to recognize there is a problem and seek medical assistance from your physician in order to decrease the risk of difficulties in the marital relationship.
Advanced Urological Care: Penile Injection Therapy
MayoClinic: Erectile Dysfunction
Us Too: Successful Penile Injection
Prostate.Net: Penile Injection for Erectile dysfunction
Department of Urology: Erectile Dysfunction
University of Utah: Self-Injection and Erectile Dysfunction
Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center: Penile Inection Therapy