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Erectile Dysfunction


Erectile dysfunction

(ED), or impotence, is when you cannot get or keep an erection for sexual activity.

Seek care immediately if:

  • You have chest pain, dizziness, or nausea after you take ED medicines or during or after sex.
  • You have an erection for more than 4 hours after you take your ED medicine.
  • You see blood in your urine.

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • You have changes in your vision, headaches, or back pain after you take ED medicine.
  • You have a painful erection.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.


depends on the cause of your ED. You may need any of the following:

  • ED medicines help you have an erection. These medicines are taken before you have sex. Follow your healthcare provider's instructions on how to use these medicines. You may have a life-threatening reaction if you mix ED medicines with medicines that contain nitrates. Medicines with nitrates include nitroglycerin and other heart medicines.
  • Testosterone may be given to increase the levels in your blood and improve your ED. You may need to use a skin cream or wear a patch.
  • Penis injections may be done to help improve your blood flow.
  • A vacuum device is a tube that is placed over the penis. A hand pump is connected to the tube and acts as a vacuum. This may help increase blood flow to the penis.
  • Therapy may be needed to treat emotional or relationship problems that may be causing your ED.
  • Surgery may be recommended if other treatments do not work. Surgery includes a penile implant or prosthesis. Surgery may also be done to improve blood flow. Ask for more information about surgeries for ED.

Decrease your risk for ED:

  • Do not smoke. Smoking can cause ED. Nicotine and other chemicals in cigarettes and cigars can also cause lung damage. Ask your healthcare provider for information if you currently smoke and need help to quit. E-cigarettes or smokeless tobacco still contain nicotine. Talk to your healthcare provider before you use these products.
  • Control your blood sugar levels if you have diabetes. Over time, high blood sugar levels can cause ED.
  • Limit alcohol. Men should limit alcohol to 2 drinks a day. A drink of alcohol is 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1½ ounces of liquor.
  • Do not use illegal drugs. They increase your risk of ED.
  • Manage your medical conditions. Eat a variety of healthy foods and stay physically active. Take your medicines as directed. They can help control conditions that may cause ED.
  • Manage stress. Learn ways to relax, such as deep breathing, meditation, and listening to music.

Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

Learn more about Erectile Dysfunction (Ambulatory Care)

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