Erectile Dysfunction

Commonly known as ‘impotence’, erectile dysfunction is the ongoing inability to obtain or sustain an erection that is sufficient for sexual intercourse. It is thought to affect at least one in ten men in the UK and more than 50% of men over 40 will experience some form of ED, from the total inability to obtain an erection, to an inconsistent ability to do so, or a tendency to sustain only brief erections. These variations make defining ED difficult.

What causes erectile dysfunction?

There can be a range of causes that are both physical and psychological. Physical causes include:

  • hormonal problems
  • narrowing of the blood vessels to the penis – this is commonly associated with high blood pressure, high cholesterol or diabetes

Psychological causes include:

  • anxiety
  • depression

Diagnosis of erectile dysfunction

Your Consultant will carry out a thorough examination to determine the cause of the problem. ED can be an embarrassing condition for many men with a significant impact on both your quality of life and your partner’s. However, in many cases, it can be treated. It is important that a diagnosis is made, not least because ED is often an early sign that your blood vessels are narrowing and are clogged with fatty substances, such as cholesterol. As blood vessels in the penis are a lot smaller than the blood vessels elsewhere in the body, they are often affected first, which is risk factor for cardiovascular disease, including coronary heart disease, stroke or heart attack.

If you have ED, your consultant will assess your risk of cardiovascular disease and suggest options to reduce this risk.

To determine the nature of ED your consultant will carry out a range of tests and examinations including:

  • A full medical and sexual history examination
  • Physical examination – this can help rule out other problems such as circulatory system problems and unusual characteristics of the penis.
  • Psychological examination – consultants may question patients using a questionnaire relating to the man’s sexual partner to reveal or rule out any psychological explanations.
  • Lab tests – these can help diagnose ED to test for systemic and endocrine problems

Treatment for erectile dysfunction

If you have ED, there are various forms of treatment that prove successful. These include:

Linear shockwave therapy

Linear shockwave therapy is a modern non-invasive therapy that is used by one of our specialist erectile dysfunction consultants. It uses shock waves of a low intensity to induce controlled angiogenesis, and significantly improves the function of the male sexual organ. Linear shockwave therapy has been in the press a lot recently and is known for producing impressive results. For more information and to book a consultation please contact us.

Other methods for erectile dysfunction can be seen below.

  • PDE5 inhibitors – these tablets are the most common and effective form of treatment, which work by temporarily increasing blood flow to the penis, causing an erection to occur naturally from sexual stimulation. Whilst suitable for most ED sufferers, patients who take nitrate-based drugs for heart problems cannot use these drugs.
  • Injection into the penis – this is called intracavernosal injection therapy – medications self-injected into the erectile tissue of the penis causing the blood vessels feeding blood into the penis to relax, allowing the blood flow to increase.
  • Pellets into the urethra (urethral pellets or Transurethral therapy) – a pellet is inserted into the urethra (the tube that carries urine from the bladder to the tip of your penis) through the tip of the penis to cause the relaxation of the blood vessels, resulting in an increase in blood flow.
  • Vacuum devices – the penis is inserted into a cylinder and a vacuum is created by a hand or battery pump, causing the penis to fill with blood and harden to produce an erection. A band is then placed around the end of the penis to keep the erection and the pump removed. It may take several attempts to learn how to use the pump correctly, but they are usually very successful.
  • After using a vacuum pump, 9 out of 10 men are able to have sex, regardless of what causes their ED.
  • Penile implants – inflatable implants inserted surgically under general anaesthetic.
  • Psychosexual counselling – this form of therapy may be used for men whose ED is thought to be caused by psychological issues or when medical treatments do not bring about improvement.

Contact us

To book an appointment with one of our experts you can call our urology experts on 020 7432 8297 or email londonurology@hje.org.uk.

ENT Consultants

Urology Clinic

Our private urology clinic in London uses the latest techniques to give you the best diagnosis, intervention and aftercare for any urology problem you may be suffering from, allowing you to get back to your normal life as soon as possible.  We provide our urology Consultants with the most modern diagnostic equipment, so they can quickly find out what’s wrong. They also have four operating theatres at their disposal to carry out procedures, which cuts waiting times.

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Patient information

Our Hospital is renowned for providing exemplary levels of care across more than 90 services. From orthopaedics, to urology, our private GP practice and Urgent Care Clinic, our services are led by some of London’s leading Consultants. For more information, and to find a service suitable for your care, find out more about the services that we offer.

Make an enquiry

If you have any questions relating to treatment options or pricing information, get in touch with us by filling out one of our contact boxes or giving us a call on 020 7432 8297.

Our Appointments Team have a dedicated and caring approach to finding you the earliest appointment possible with the best specialist.

If you are self-paying you don’t need a referral from your GP for a consultation. You can simply refer yourself* and book an appointment.

If you have health insurance (e.g. Bupa, Axa Health, Aviva), you will need to contact your insurer to get authorisation before any treatment, and in most cases you will also require a referral letter from your GP.

If you are not registered with a GP, we have an in-house private GP practice you can use. Alternatively, we can suggest the most appropriate course of action for you to take, given your location and individual circumstances.

*Please note – for investigations such as X-rays and MRIs, a referral will be required. However, we may be able to arrange this for you through our on-site private GP.

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