Mediclinic Al Sufouh

Knowledge Village - Dubai

Mediclinic Dubal Mall

Fashion Avenue - Dubai

Erectile Dysfunction

Erectile dysfunction

Table of Contents

Erectile dysfunction (ED) means the persistent inability to attain and maintain an erection sufficient to permit satisfactory sexual performance.

Erectile Dysfunction could anticipate a heart disease or could be an early manifestation of it. Therefore, it should not be considered only as a quality of life issue but also as a potential warning sign of severe underlying heart morbidity.

The treatment depends on the causes of erectile dysfunction that can be organic or psychogenic. Lifestyle modifications, correction of underlying risk factors and specific medications may enhance the erectile response to sexual stimulation. Sexology counselling helps to treat psychogenic ED. In severe and unresponsive cases, a penile prosthesis may be the last resort.

Causes of Erectile Dysfunction

Some health conditions increase the chances of developing Erectile Dysfunction:

  • Ageing;
  • Diabetes;
  • Dyslipidaemia;
  • Hypertension;
  • Cardiovascular disease;
  • Metabolic syndrome;
  • Elevated homocysteine in the blood;
  • Lack of exercise;
  • Smoking (quantity and duration of tobacco use hurts erectile function);
  • pharmaco-therapeutic agents for cardiovascular disease;
  • atrial fibrillation;
  • hyperthyroidism;
  • vitamin D deficiency;
  • hyperuricemia;
  • depression;
  • sleep disorders;
  • obstructive sleep apnoea;
  • psoriasis;
  • gouty arthritis;
  • ankylosing spondylitis;
  • non-alcoholic fatty liver disease;
  • chronic liver disorders;
  • chronic periodontitis;
  • open-angle glaucoma;
  • inflammatory bowel disease;
  • chronic fatigue syndrome;
  • allergic rhinitis;

Urological conditions related to ED:

Procedures that may cause ED:

  • Transrectal prostate biopsy (the procedure to diagnose prostate cancer);
  • Radical prostatectomy (surgery to treat prostate cancer);
  • Posterior urethroplasty (surgery for urethral strictures).


 While the ED diagnosis is self-made, some test may help us staging the disease and understanding possible underlying causes. The patient’s evaluation starts in the urologist’s office with a detailed medical history and physical examination. The International Index of Erectile Function questionnaire (IIEF) is a valuable and simple diagnostic tool to stage the severity of symptoms and their impact on the patient’s quality of life. Lab tests (hormones and blood work) usually complete the baseline diagnostic workup.

The urologist or andrologist may order other tests to complete the diagnostic journey (advanced workup) like:

  • The nocturnal penile tumescence and rigidity test (NPTR) applies nocturnal monitoring devices that measure the nocturnal erectile activity and may differentiate between organic and psychogenic ED;
  • The intracavernous injection test;
  • The penile dynamic duplex ultrasound is a test that we do, after the penile (intracavernous) injection of vasodilators, to assesses the vascular mechanism of erection and its abnormalities;
  • Arteriography and dynamic infusion cavernosometry or cavernosography are infrequent tests required only in selected cases when the penile dynamic US scan results are consistent with vasculogenic ED;
  • We require a psychiatric and psychosocial assessment in younger patients (< 40 years) with long-term primary ED; psychiatric examination may be helpful before any other clinical assessment.
    The nocturnal penile tumescence and rigidity test (NPTR)
    The nocturnal penile tumescence and rigidity test (NPTR)


 Several studies have shown that lifestyle modification, including physical activity, weight loss and pharmacotherapy for cardiovascular disease risk factors, may improve sexual function in men with ED. There is also a positive effect of lipid-lowering therapy with statins on erectile function.

In most cases, we cannot radically cure and solve the ED. When the cause is psychogenic, post-traumatic arteriogenic (in young patients) or hormonal, then the ED is potentially reversible after treatment and leads to a stable recovery. However, we can improve most ED with a tailored, integrated and comprehensive strategy (controlling risk factors, pharmacologic erectile enhancement, psychodynamic/psychiatric treatment and sexology training).

Oral pharmacotherapy

We recommend oral medication to enhance natural erection. Since these medications are not initiators of erection, sexual stimulation is required to facilitate an erection. If the patient takes this medication will never have any erectile response without sexual stimulation.

These medications are considered safe without increasing the risk of myocardial infarction. However, the prescription is restricted and controlled in patients with cardiovascular disease and high cardiovascular risk.

Nitrate derived medications are an absolute contraindication to oral medication. We must use caution when the patient is under antihypertensive agents for a possible additive drop in blood pressure.

The patient must tell the urologist all his medical history to have a safe oral medication prescription.

Topical treatment of ED
Topical treatment of ED

Topical therapies

Topical therapies are medications applied externally on the surface of a part of the body (skin or mucosa). We treat selected patients with topical treatment through a specific formulation of alprostadil inserted into the urethra at the tip of the penis. Alternatively, in the same area, we can apply a cream formulation.

Shockwave therapy for ED

Extracorporeal Shockwave Therapy (ESWT) employs focused shock waves directed at the penis to improve erectile function. Standard treatment consists of 6 sessions, and we can repeat it if necessary.

Shock wave treatment for ED

We can consider this non-standard treatment option when patients do not want to take oral or topical treatment.

Penile injections (intracavernous injection therapy)

Penile Injection
Penile Injection

We offer this treatment in selected patients who did not respond to lifestyle changes and other conservative treatments (oral, topical, ESWT).

We usually train the patient to self-inject the medication into the spongy tissue in the penis to induce an erection.

Although self-injection scares many men, after feeling the benefits, they soon overcome the fear of it.

Vacuum Erection Device

The vacuum erection device (VED) is a cylinder-shaped device with a rubber constrictive ring that tightens around the penis. The vacuum effect makes it possible to get and maintain an erection.

We consider VED as an alternative treatment when others do fail.

Vacuum Erection Device
Vacuum Erection Device

Penile prosthesis

A penile prosthesis (penile implant) is a device implanted internally into the penis and allows the patient to have an artificially maintained erection. In severe ED or contraindications to all suitable treatments, we can consider this surgery a last resort.

Penile Prosthesis
Penile Prosthesis

External resources

Christina Lindea: my trusted Scandinavian-certified sexologist in Dubai.

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