How Long Do Erectile Dysfunction Treatments Maintain an Erection?

Millions of men struggle with erectile dysfunction, unable to achieve or maintain an erect penis for sexual intercourse. 

The condition sometimes surfaces when a man is not able to keep an erection during sexual activity, or it may begin as a simple lack of firmness in the erect penis.

There are a number of ways to treat erectile dysfunction, including medications and devices designed to produce an erection. Each works in different ways to produce the same result and all have different effects that can last anywhere between a half hour and up to four hours. However, they also present potential complications, including inducing a prolonged erection that can be damaging to the arteries and tissue in the penis.

It’s important to understand each treatment, its limitations, and potential risks. 

Oral medications to treat erectile dysfunction

One of the most common erectile dysfunction (ED) treatments is oral medications prescribed by a physician. While these oral medications used to treat erectile dysfunction produce similar results, there are noticeable differences to consider.

  • Sildenafil (Viagra): This medication can take up to an hour to take effect and must be taken on an empty stomach for the best results. Its effects often last for four to five hours, perhaps longer for men with mild to moderate erectile dysfunction.
  • Vardenafil: This medication can take as little as 15 minutes to take effect if using a version that dissolves on the tongue can take up to an hour to take effect in the pill form. It usually works for four to five hours, with longer effects for mild to moderate ED.
  • Tadalafil (Cialis): This medication can take up to two hours to take effect. In general, tadalafil can last up to 36 hours for most men. The duration of the erection will vary from person to person.
  •  Avanafil (Stendra): This medicine also can take up to 30 minutes to take effect. It can last between four and five hours, or longer with mild to moderate ED.

Vacuum erection device treatment for erectile dysfunction

Some men do not achieve successful erections from oral medications or they may have health conditions that prohibit their use. In some cases, certain medications may not interact well with oral ED medicine, so they must consider other options.

A vacuum erection device, or VED, is a tool used to pull blood into the penis. Also known as a penis pump, a VED works by manually pumping air into the device to create suction around the penis. Some VEDs have motorized pumps that create suction without manually pumping.

The penis is inserted into a large tube that has a tension ring around the opening. The manual or motorized pump creates suction around the inserted penis, causing it to fill with blood and stiffen into an erection. Once an erection is achieved, the tension ring is slipped on the base of the penis from the tube. This helps maintain the erection.

The ring can be worn around the base of the penis for up to 30 minutes to maintain the erection when the penis is removed from the suction tube. Physicians recommend using the tension ring around the penis for only 30 minutes at a time to avoid bruising and rashes around the base of the penis.

Testosterone replacement used to treat erectile dysfunction

For some men, erectile dysfunction is the result of reduced hormones produced by the body during the aging process. This can contribute to difficulty in achieving and maintaining an erection. Your physician can test your testosterone levels to determine if you are suffering from low levels.

Your doctor may recommend testosterone replacement if you are diagnosed with low levels of the hormone. Testosterone replacement can be offered in the form of a topical cream or pellets inserted under the skin that slowly dissolves over time to produce a consistent level of the hormone in the body. Testosterone replacement also can be administered in the form of an injection into the body as well.

While hormone replacement is not prescribed as a one-time treatment and requires consistent replenishment by a physician, it can help reduce ED symptoms. Erections produced through this therapy typically last as long as the patient’s erections lasted before ED symptoms emerged. Some doctors may prescribe other ED treatments in addition to hormone replacement therapy.

Urethral suppository to treat erectile dysfunction

In some erectile dysfunction cases, a physician may prescribe intraurethral therapy. This involves inserting a small drug pellet into the tip of the penis. This type of treatment typically produces results faster than oral ED medications, as quickly as about 10 minutes to achieve an erection.

This ED treatment can produce an erection that lasts anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour.

Penile injections to treat erectile dysfunction

Penile injections use a medication that increases blood flow in the penis much more quickly and with greater success than pills without their side effects, like flushing, congestion and dizziness. The medication is collected in a syringe and then injected into the base of the penis with a small needle.

The erection can start within minutes after injection and can last anywhere from a half hour to several hours, depending on the size of the dose injected. However, doses that are too large can produce prolonged erections that can be painful and damage the penis.

It’s important to discuss proper dosing and injection methods with a physician before using this treatment. 

Penile implant used to treat erectile dysfunction

Often considered a last resort for men who do not achieve success with other treatments, a penile implant can create an erection after it is surgically inserted into the shaft. The surgery involves inserting a water-based device into the penis’ erection chambers, giving the patient complete control of when they create an erection and how long it lasts.

The penile implant is pumped by a device inserted into the scrotum and the erection is released through a valve inserted in the device.

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