Injections for erectile dysfunction is one option for erectile dysfunction (ED) treatment. While it might be a little embarrassing to talk to your doctor about ED, you can rest assured that there are several ways to treat it. Your doctor will ask you about your medical history and your symptoms to devise an ED treatment plan that is right for you. Treatment can include medications, such as Viagra or Cialis. Or, your doctor might recommend that you try penile injections. Also called intracavernosal injection therapy, a penile injection refers to the introduction of medications directly into the penis via an injection.
A sharp, shiny needle is probably the last object you want near such a sensitive area. However, the needle itself is quite small and you should feel only minimal discomfort. The specific medication that is used will vary. Some of the common medications used when giving injections for erectile dysfunction include papaverine hydrochloride, phentolamine (Regitine), and prostaglandin E-1.
An injection of papaverine will relax the muscles in the arterial wall, which will cause dilation and increased blood flow. Phentolamine works by blocking nerve signals that result in muscle contractions. The end result is also muscle relaxation. Prostaglandin E-1 is a naturally occurring chemical that you already have in your body. It is a vasodilator. Injecting additional prostaglandin E-1 also relaxes the muscles to cause an erection.
Are You a Good Candidate?
Penile injections for erectile dysfunction are not recommended for everyone. You should not use this form of ED treatment if you are allergic to the drug or if you have an abnormally formed penis. Other medical conditions that can preclude the use of penile injections include sickle cell anemia, cavernosal fibrosis, and Peyronie’s disease. Additionally, you should not use these drugs if you take any blood thinners, such as Coumadin or warfarin.
Possible Side Effects and Risks
Before beginning any new medication or treatment program, it’s important to ask your doctor about the possible side effects and risks. Keep in mind that not all men will experience these side effects. Additionally, consider putting a medical card in your wallet that describes your penile injection, just in case of medical emergencies.
Pain: Most men do not experience significant pain from penile injections for erectile dysfunction. However, some men are particularly susceptible to it, and they may experience an aching pain in the penis for about 30 to 60 minutes following each injection. Talk to your doctor if you experience pain. Sometimes, switching to another medication in the injection can help.
Penile Scarring: This risk is uncommon. Only about 5% of men who use penile injections for erectile dysfunction will develop scarring inside the penis. Consult your doctor if you notice bending of the erection.
Priapism: This refers to a typically painful erection that lasts for four hours or longer. It is a serious condition that requires urgent medical attention to avoid permanent complications. If you experience priapism, go to the emergency room and inform the physician that you are using penile injections.
Bruising: Some men may notice bruising on the penis. This is not a serious side effect. To prevent bruising, apply pressure to the penis after the injection.
Infections: Infections are quite rare for penile injections, particularly when you follow your doctor’s instructions for performing the injection properly. Always use an alcohol swab to prevent infection.