Impotence or Erectile Dysfunction (ED)

Erectile Dysfunction Treatment India

Impotence or Erectile Dysfunction (ED) is the most dreaded disease for any gentleman. The good news is that it is preventable and treatable. In the recent years, the understanding has regarding the disease process. There are many treatment modalities (first line, second line and third line) available for the patients with Erectile Dysfunction / impotence. Earlier, it was thought that majority of these patients are suffering from psychological causes (like stress, anxiety, depression) and there was no specific organic cause found. At that time the patho-physiology (or functioning and its dysfuntioning) was not very clear to the treating doctors. The latest research has brought the new knowledge and new hope for the sufferers of Erectile dysfunction or impotence. Now, more than 90% of these patients with impotence can be treated.

What is Erectile Dysfunction or Impotence?

Erectile dysfunction’ (ED) or ‘Impotence’ means that one cannot get and/or maintain an erection (hardness of penis). In some cases the penis becomes partly erect, but not hard enough to have sex properly. In some cases, there is no swelling or fullness of the penis at all.

How common is Erectile Dysfunction or Impotence?

Most men have odd times when they cannot get an erection. For example, you may not get an erection so easily if you are tired, stressed, distracted, or have drunk too much alcohol. For most men it is only temporary, and an erection occurs most times when you are sexually aroused.

However, some men have persistent, or recurring, Erectile Dysfunction or impotence. It can occur at any age, but becomes more common with increasing age. About 50% of men above the age of 40 have ERECTILE DYSFUNCTION OR IMPOTENCE. About 7 in 10 men aged 70 and above have ERECTILE DYSFUNCTION OR IMPOTENCE. The occurance of the problem will be more if one is suffereing form other diseases like Diabetes, High BP, High Cholesterol etc.
How does an erection normally occur?
When you are sexually aroused, messages from your brain travel down nerves to your penis. Chemicals called ‘neurotransmitters’ are then released from the ends of the nerves in the penis. Stimulation of the penis can also cause local nerve endings to release neurotransmitter chemicals.

The neurotransmitters which are released in the penis cause another chemical to be made called cyclic guanosine monophosphate (cGMP). An increase of cGMP causes the arteries in the penis to dilate (widen). This allows extra blood to flood into the penis. The rapid inflow of blood causes the penis to swell into an erection. The swollen inner part of the penis also ‘presses’ on the veins nearer to the skin surface of the penis. These veins normally drain the penis of blood. So, the flow of blood out of the penis is also restricted, which enhances the erection.

The cGMP is soon converted into another inactive chemical. But, as you remain sexually aroused whilst having sex, your brain keeps sending nerve messages to the penis which makes more cGMP to maintain the erection. When the level of cGMP falls, the blood flow to the penis returns to normal, and the penis gradually returns to the non-erect state.

Am I suffering from Erectile Dysfunction or Impotence?

Take a simple test to assess and grade your erection. This is called Erection Hardness Score (EHS). Choose the number that best describes the most frequent condition of your penis during the sexual activity over the last 4 weeks (1 month).

If your EHS is 4, then Congrats! You don’t have erectile dysfunction or impotence. But if is 1,2 or 3, then you need to consult a sexual medicine specialist for further evaluation.
Erection Hardness Score Chart

What causes erectile dysfunction or Impotence?

There are several causes which tend to be grouped into ‘physical’ and ‘psychological’.

Physical causes

About 8 in 10 cases of ERECTILE DYSFUNCTION OR IMPOTENCE are due to a physical cause. If the ERECTILE DYSFUNCTION OR IMPOTENCE is due to a physical cause, you are likely to still have a normal sex drive (libido). Causes include:

  • Reduced blood flow to the penis. Like in other parts of the body, the arteries which take blood to the penis can become narrowed. The blood flow may then not be enough to cause an erection. ‘Risk factors’ can increase your chance of ‘narrowing of the arteries’. These include: getting older; high blood pressure; high cholesterol; smoking; diabetes.
  • Diseases which affect the nerves going to the penis. For example, multiple sclerosis, a stroke, etc.
  • Diabetes. This is one of the commonest causes of ERECTILE DYSFUNCTION OR IMPOTENCE. Diabetes can affect blood vessels and nerves.
  • Injury to the nerves going to the penis. For example, spinal injury, following surgery to nearby structures, fractured pelvis, radiotherapy to the genital area, etc.
  • Side-effect of certain medicines. The most common are: some antidepressants; betablockers such as propranolol, atenolol etc; some diuretics (‘water tablets’); cimetidine. Many other less commonly used tablets sometimes cause ERECTILE DYSFUNCTION OR IMPOTENCE.
  • Alcohol and drug abuse.
  • Cycling. ERECTILE DYSFUNCTION OR IMPOTENCE after long distance cycling is thought to be common. It is probably due to pressure on the nerves going to the penis from sitting on the saddle for long periods. This may affect the function of the nerve after the ride.
  • Hormone causes are rare. For example, a lack of a hormone called testosterone which is made in the testes.
  • Excessive outflow of blood from the penis through the veins (‘venous leak’). This is rare but can be caused by various conditions of the penis.

In most cases due to physical causes (apart from injury or after surgery) the ERECTILE DYSFUNCTION OR IMPOTENCE tends to develop slowly. So, you may have intermittent or partial ERECTILE DYSFUNCTION OR IMPOTENCE for a while, which may gradually get worse. In some cases, ERECTILE DYSFUNCTION OR IMPOTENCE causes poor self esteem, anxiety, and even depression. These reactions to ERECTILE DYSFUNCTION OR IMPOTENCE can make the problem worse.

Mental heath (‘psychological’) causes

Various mental health conditions may cause you to develop ERECTILE DYSFUNCTION OR IMPOTENCE. For example:

  • Stress. For example, due to a difficult work or home situation.
  • Anxiety.
  • Relationship difficulties.
  • Depression.

Typically, the ERECTILE DYSFUNCTION OR IMPOTENCE develops quite suddenly if it is a symptom of a mental health problem. The ERECTILE DYSFUNCTION OR IMPOTENCE may resolve when your mental state improves. For example, if your anxiety or depression eases. However, some people become even more anxious or depressed when they develop ERECTILE DYSFUNCTION OR IMPOTENCE. They do not realise it is a reaction to their mental health problem. This can make matters worse and lead to a ‘vicious circle’ of worsening anxiety and persisting ERECTILE DYSFUNCTION OR IMPOTENCE.

As a rule, a psychological cause is more likely for the ERECTILE DYSFUNCTION OR IMPOTENCE than a physical cause if there are times when you can get a good erection, even though most of the time you cannot. (For example, if you can get an erection by masturbating, or wake up in the morning with an erection.)

Erectile dysfunction, heart disease and other vascular diseases

Although ERECTILE DYSFUNCTION OR IMPOTENCE can be caused by various conditions, about 7 in 10 cases are due to narrowing of the small arteries in the penis. This causes reduced blood flow to the penis. This is the same problem that can occur in other blood vessels. For example, narrowing of the blood vessels in the heart (the coronary arteries) is a cause of angina and other heart problems. Narrowing of blood vessels to the brain is a risk factor for having a stroke. Narrowing of blood vessels in the legs can cause peripheral vascular disease.

The root cause of the narrowing of the arteries is caused by atheroma. Atheroma is like fatty patches or ‘plaques’ that develop within the inside lining of arteries. (This is similar to water pipes that get ‘furred up’ with scale.) Plaques of atheroma may gradually form over a number of years in one or more places in the body, commonly in arteries going to the heart, brain, legs and penis. In time, these can become bigger and cause enough narrowing of one or more of the arteries to cause symptoms and problems.

Risk factors that increase erectile Dysfunction or Impotence

Certain ‘risk factors’ increase the risk of more atheroma forming which can make atheroma-related conditions worse. These are discussed in more detail in another leaflet called ‘Preventing Cardiovascular Disease’. Briefly, risk factors that can be modified and may help to prevent atheroma-related conditions from getting worse are:

Smoking. Smoking is one of the biggest risk factors for developing heart disease. Smoking also roughly doubles your chance of developing ERECTILE DYSFUNCTION OR IMPOTENCE. Young smokers may not be aware that they have a much greater risk of developing ED by middle age compared to non-smokers. If you smoke, you should make every effort to stop.ED Causes High blood pressure. Make sure your blood pressure is checked at least once a year. If it is high it can be treated.
If you are overweight, losing some weight is advised.Obesity cause ED A high cholesterol. This can be treated if it is high.
Inactivity. We should all aim to do some moderate physical activity on most days of the week for at least 30 minutes. For example, brisk walking, swimming, cycling, dancing, gardening, etc.Physical Exercise for ED Diet. You should aim to eat a healthy diet. Details in a leaflet called ‘Healthy Eating’High Fat Diet
Alcohol excess.Alcohol the cause for ED Diabetes. If you have diabetes, good control of the blood sugar level and blood pressure can help to minimise the impact of diabetes on the blood vessels.Diabetes the cause of ED

Heart Disease the cause of ED

Erectile Dysfunction or Impotence is the early warning signal for HEART ATTACK

ERECTILE DYSFUNCTION OR IMPOTENCE caused by narrowed arteries commonly develops several years before any symptoms or problems develop due to narrowing of the coronary arteries (these are the arteries that are present in the heart musculature). Therefore, ERECTILE DYSFUNCTION OR IMPOTENCE is thought of as an ‘early warning signal’ that heart disease (or other cardiovascular diseases) may develop. This is why some of the tests listed below may be advised if you develop ERECTILE DYSFUNCTION OR IMPOTENCE. Also, you are likely to be advised by your doctor on how to modify any ‘risk factors’ listed above with the aim of preventing heart disease from developing.

What should I do if I develop persistent erectile dysfunction or impotence?

It is best to see your Sexual Medicine physician. He is likely to discuss the problem, go over any medication you may be taking, and do a physical examination. This can help to identify, or rule out, possible underlying causes. Before treatment, your Sexual Medicine physician may suggest some tests.

What tests may be done?

Depending on your symptoms, likely cause of the ERECTILE DYSFUNCTION OR IMPOTENCE, age, etc, your doctor may suggest that you have some tests. These are mainly to check up on any ‘risk factors’ listed above which increase the risk of developing narrowing of the arteries. Tests may include:

  • A blood test to check the level of cholesterol and other ‘lipids’.
  • Blood sugar level.
  • A check of you blood pressure.
  • A heart tracing (ECG).
  • Treadmill test (TMT)
  • Other heart tests are sometimes done, where appropriate, if heart disease is suspected.

Occasionally, ERECTILE DYSFUNCTION OR IMPOTENCE is due to a hormone problem. This is more likely if you have a low sex drive (libido) in addition to ERECTILE DYSFUNCTION OR IMPOTENCE. In this situation a blood test to check the level of testosterone or prolactin may be advised.

What are the treatment options?

A Sexual Medicine physician is trained to assess and treat the problem of Erectile Dysfunction or Impotence and its complexities. The following gives a brief summary of treatment options. There is a good chance of success with treatment. There are pros and cons of each treatment, and your doctor will advise further.

Medication (tablets taken by mouth)

In 1998, the first tablet to treat ERECTILE DYSFUNCTION OR IMPOTENCE was launched. This made a huge impact on the treatment of ERECTILE DYSFUNCTION OR IMPOTENCE. There are now four different tablets licensed in the UK to treat ERECTILE DYSFUNCTION OR IMPOTENCE.

  • Three of the tablets work by increasing the blood flow to your penis. They do this by affecting the chemicals involved in dilating (widening) the blood vessels when you are sexually aroused (described above). They are sildenafil, tadalafil, and vardenafil. You take a dose before you plan to have sex. Because of the way they work, these medicines are called phosphodiesterase type 5 inhibitors (PDE5 inhibitors).
  • Apomorphine works by increasing the level of certain chemicals in the brain which are involved in sending messages down nerves to the penis when you are sexually aroused. You take a tablet which dissolves under the tongue 20 minutes before you plan to have sex.

So, even if the nerves or blood vessels going to your penis are not working so well, a tablet can cause the blood flow to increase in your penis, and cause an erection. Tablets can treat ERECTILE DYSFUNCTION OR IMPOTENCE caused by various underlying conditions.

None of these tablets will cause an erection unless you are sexually aroused. There is a good chance that a medicine will work (about an 8 in 10 chance of it working well). However, they do not work in every case. There are pros and cons for each of the above, and your doctor will advise. For example, you may not be able to take certain tablets for ERECTILE DYSFUNCTION OR IMPOTENCE if you have certain other medical conditions, or take certain other medicines. For example, you should not take a PDE5 inhibitor if you take nitrate medicines (including GTN) which are often used to treat angina.

Pelvic floor muscle exercises

The pelvic floor muscles are a group of muscles that wrap around the underside of the bladder and rectum. One of these muscles (the bulbocavernosus muscle) also partly wraps around the base of the penis. This is involved with preventing blood escaping during an erection, (as well as being active during ejaculation, and when emptying the urethra of urine when finishing at the toilet). A common treatment for incontinence in women is to strengthen the pelvic floor exercises. Studies suggest that strengthening the pelvic floor muscles in men can cure ERECTILE DYSFUNCTION OR IMPOTENCE in some cases.

For example, one study found that after a course of pelvic floor exercises, about 4 in 10 men with ERECTILE DYSFUNCTION OR IMPOTENCE had regained normal erectile function, just over 3 in 10 had improved, but there was no improvement in just under 3 in 10 men. The exercises were done for a time every day for three months. Those found least likely to improve were those with other significant problems such as heart disease, diabetes, or those who drank a lot of alcohol. The conclusion of this study was that pelvic floor muscle exercises should be considered a treatment option for many people with ERECTILE DYSFUNCTION OR IMPOTENCE.

To identify your pelvic floor muscles: firstly, contract the muscles that you would use to stop passing wind from your anus; secondly contract the muscles that you would use to stop the flow of urine. These are the muscles that can be trained and strengthened. Ideally, discuss this option with your GP. If this option is considered appropriate to try, then ideally you should see a physiotherapist for advice on exactly how to do the correct exercises. Also, see the references at the end of this article.

Injection treatment

This was the most common treatment before tablets became available. It usually works very well. You are taught how to inject a medicine into the base of the penis. This causes increased blood flow, and an erection usually develops within 15 minutes. (Unlike with tablets, the erection occurs whether of not you are sexually aroused.)

Urethral medication

You can place a small pellet into the end of the urethra (the tube which passes urine and opens at the end of the penis). The pellet contains a similar medicine to that used for the injection treatment. The medicine is quickly absorbed into the penis to cause an erection, usually within 10-15 minutes.

Vaccum Pump For ED

Vacuum devices

There are several different devices. Basically, you put your penis into a plastic container. A pump then sucks out the air from the container to create a vacuum. This causes blood to be drawn into the penis and cause an erection. When erect, a rubber band is placed at the base of the penis to maintain the erection. The plastic container is then taken off the penis and the penis remains erect until the rubber band is removed (which must be removed within 30 minutes).

Penile prosthesis

A surgeon can insert a ‘rod’ permanently into the penis. The most sophisticated (expensive) type can be inflated with an inbuilt pump to cause an erection. The more basic type keeps the penis rigid all the time.Penile prosthesisPenile prosthesis

Other treatments

Treating an underlying cause

For example, treating depression, anxiety, changing medication, cutting back on drinking lots of alcohol, or treating certain rare hormone conditions may cure the associated ERECTILE DYSFUNCTION OR IMPOTENCE.

Lifestyle and other advice

As mentioned above, ERECTILE DYSFUNCTION OR IMPOTENCE is often a marker that heart disease or other cardiovascular diseases may soon develop. Therefore, you should review your lifestyle to see if any changes can be made to minimise the risk of developing these problems. For example, stop smoking if you are a smoker, take regular exercise, eat a healthy diet, etc.

For details, see separate leaflet called ‘Preventing Cardiovascular Diseases’. Also, your doctor may prescribe a statin drug if your risk of developing cardiovascular disease is high.


Sometimes ‘couple counselling’, or sex therapy is useful. These are most useful if certain psychological problems are the cause of, or the result of, ERECTILE DYSFUNCTION OR IMPOTENCE.

In some cases, sex therapy is used in addition to another treatment option.