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Erectile Dysfunction


Erectile dysfunction (ED)

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

Call your doctor 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.
  • 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 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. Testosterone is also given as an injection.
  • 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 increase your risk for 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.
  • Control your blood sugar levels if you have diabetes. Over time, high blood sugar levels can increase your risk for 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.
  • 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.
  • Do not use illegal drugs. They increase your risk for ED.

Follow up with your doctor as directed:

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

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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