According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), erectile dysfunction (ED) affects about 30 million men in the United States.

While it’s not unusual to have difficulty maintaining an erection from time to time, experiencing frequent problems might mean you have ED.

Sexual intimacy can be challenging if you or your partner have ED. But there are many treatment options for this common condition.

To answer these frequently asked questions about ED, we’ve partnered with BlueChew, a telemedicine service designed to help men get back their confidence in the bedroom by giving them access to chewable ED medications.

Having erectile dysfunction (ED) means that you have trouble getting or maintaining an erection. Symptoms include:

  • not being able to get an erection every time you want to have sex
  • getting an erection but not being able to keep it
  • not being able to get an erection at all

Plenty of people have difficulty getting or staying hard enough to have penetrative sex — some more often than others.

Just as the clarity of your vision and elasticity of your skin decrease as you get older, so too can your ability to get and maintain an erection. And that’s normal.

While occasionally having trouble with an erection might negatively affect your sex life, it’s not necessarily cause for concern. You might have random bouts of ED if you’re stressed, for example.

With that understanding, men are typically able to continue to have healthy sexual function up until the later years in life. So if you have frequent erection issues, it may be a sign of an underlying health condition.

There’s not a single main cause of ED. Many different factors can contribute to trouble getting erections. If you’re dealing with ED, it may be because:

  • You’re dealing with emotional or psychological stress. For example, maybe you’ve experienced a huge life change or you have anxiety about your sexual performance.
  • You take certain medications, like antidepressants or blood pressure drugs.
  • You make lifestyle choices that contribute to ED, like smoking or consuming too much alcohol.
  • You have an underlying health condition, like high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, or kidney disease.

Talk with a doctor before stopping any medications. They may be able to recommend an alternative if your current medication is causing ED.

It depends on the underlying cause of ED.

For example, if ED is situational and has to do with performance anxiety, it may resolve once you address your fears surrounding sexual performance. The same goes with ED resulting from lifestyle factors, like excessive alcohol consumption. Stopping the behavior may put an end to the ED.

That said, some root causes, like a history of sexual trauma or chronic medical conditions, may be more challenging and take longer to address.

When ED doesn’t have a temporary cause and it’s serious enough to be actively treated with medication, it can tend to stick around for a very long time.

Treating any underlying cause of ED can help with your symptoms. And if lifestyle choices reduce your ability to get and maintain an erection, making some lifestyle changes might also be beneficial.

For emotional or psychological-related ED, you might consider talking with a mental health professional.

All these treatments take time. So what can you do to have a satisfying sex life in the meantime?

A doctor can prescribe pills for treating ED. These include:

  • sildenafil (Viagra)
  • tadalafil (Cialis)
  • avanafil (Stendra)
  • vardenafil (Levitra)

Erection pills like Viagra — also known as the “little blue pill” — offer a quick solution for ED. But it’s important to talk with a medical professional before taking erection pills. Some people, like those taking certain heart medications, shouldn’t take ED meds.

BlueChew is a telemedicine service that provides access to prescription ED treatments by connecting you with healthcare professionals in your state.

Through it, you can get tablets that deliver the same active ingredients as Cialis (tadalafil), Viagra (sildenafil), and Levitra (vardenafil), but at a fraction of the cost.

BlueChew offers a free month of their active plan or $20 off any other plan to all new users. Click here to start your free trial.

Maintaining a balanced diet is always a good idea for overall health — including sexual health.

And while there’s no clear evidence to suggest that taking supplements can help treat or cure ED, there does seem to be a possible link between some nutrient deficiencies and ED.

For example, one 2020 analysis of studies suggested that there was a link between vitamin D deficiency and severe forms of ED. Another review article from 2021 found that ginseng could mildly improve ED in men with mild to moderate symptoms.

Additionally, a 2020 study involving 100 participants found that taking folic acid helped lessen the severity of ED symptoms.

Getting these nutrients from whole foods is the best way to achieve optimal nutrition. For example, certain foods are high in folate, or folic acid.

But since eating the right nutrients may not always be possible, taking certain vitamins may help. You may benefit from a daily multivitamin to cover basic vitamin deficiencies.

Just make sure to talk with a doctor before taking over-the-counter (OTC) vitamins and supplements. It’s possible to overdose on certain vitamins and minerals if you take too much.

However, beware of:

  • energy supplements
  • workout supplements
  • sexual stimulants or supplements

These types of supplements may contain hidden or proprietary ingredients that have hormone-modulating effects similar to those of anabolic steroids. They may provide short-term bursts in function but ultimately reduce natural testosterone production and cause long-term sexual function to deteriorate.

If your partner isn’t able to get or maintain an erection, it can negatively affect your sex life. But it doesn’t mean sex is out of the question. For one, you can still be intimate without having penetrative sex. And ED isn’t necessarily a permanent condition. There are ways to treat it.

While you might feel confused or inadequate right now, know that you’re probably not the cause of your partner’s erection troubles. Try to be supportive of your partner while they deal with this condition. They may feel embarrassed or ashamed, making it tough to talk about ED.

Communicating with one another and tackling the issue as partners instead of individuals can help you move forward. This might include discussing how to achieve pleasure without sex, listening to each other’s anxieties and feelings, or seeking couples therapy.

Also, encourage your partner to look into potential underlying health issues by getting a general medical evaluation with their primary care physician.

ED can be a symptom of depression, hormone irregularities, or anatomical changes to the penis, like those in Peyronie’s disease. It can also be a symptom of cardiovascular disease, heart disease, or diabetes.

Although treatment with ED drugs may help improve your sex life, it doesn’t address underlying health issues.

All ED pills work the same by boosting blood flow to the penis. They also share the same contraindications, which means there’s no one “safest” drug.

In most places — the United States included — Viagra and other ED medications are only available via prescription. To stay safest, make sure yours is prescribed and monitored by a physician.

You can get a prescription by talking with a doctor, either in person or online. It’s important to tell the doctor about any current health conditions or medications you’re taking since erection pills can affect blood pressure and interact with some drugs.

Medication interactions

Most healthcare professionals agree that drugs like sildenafil (Viagra) and tadalafil (Cialis) are safe as long as the patient does not take nitrates for chest pain, such as nitroglycerin.

If you do take nitrates, make sure to discuss this with your doctor.

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