Erectile Dysfunction or Impotence is defined as the inability to achieve or maintain an erection suitable for sexual intercourse. More than 20 million men are affected with impotence. It has been estimated that greater than 35 percent of men over the age of 60 suffer with some degree of impotence.
Penile erection occurs when nerve signals are received in the penis resulting in artery dilation, causing an increased blood flow to the erectile tissue of the penis. Erectile Dysfunction (Impotence) can be divided into cases, caused by diseases of the nervous system (e.g., diabetes), disorders of the circulatory system (e.g., arteriosclerosis) or disorders allowing the blood to leak out of the penis prematurely.
Patients suffering from impotence are evaluated with detailed medical history to identify causes, such as medications known to link to impotence, and lifestyle issues such as smoking and illicit drug use that can affect a man’s ability to obtain an erection.
The first oral medication for the treatment of impotence was approved by the FDA in March of 1998. The drug was called Viagra (sildenafil). Since the introduction of Viagra, Cialis and Levitra have also been approved by the FDA. These medications are taken orally, and cause the penile blood vessels to dilate resulting in an erection.
Surgical therapy for Erectile Dysfunction consists mainly of the penile prosthesis. Although both semi-rigid and inflatable devices are available, most men choose an inflatable prosthesis because it results in much more normal looking penis in the relaxed and the erect state.