Treating ED: The Best Decision I Ever Made
As a 70-year-old man, I’m no stranger to surgery. I’ve had a hip replacement, and I’ve had rotator cuff surgery. And, as is the case with most procedures, I’ve had to deal with new limitations as a result. I had to give up golf because I couldn’t do the backswing without pain. I can’t exercise as much as I used to.
But with my most recent surgery--an inflatable penile prosthesis implant to resolve my erectile dysfunction--I don’t notice any limitations. In fact, I don’t remember sex being better than it is now.
I’ve been living with erectile dysfunction, or ED, for a little over 15 years, and getting the surgery a year ago was the best decision I’ve made regarding how I treat my ED. Don’t get me wrong, the oral medications do work. However, in my experience it was always a race against time with these medications. How long will it last? Will it work this time? When will it start working? In fact, I have a friend who told me that the first time he tried one of those medications, he and his wife just sat there, staring at his penis, waiting for something to happen. They didn’t realize it’s not an instant thing.
Wondering how--and if--it will work probably doesn’t help someone’s ED issue. Another downside of the oral medications is the fact that some of the side effects you might experience (a headache, flushed face, upset stomach or whatever) will not go away until the medication wears off.
So, in addition to the oral medications, I tried injections, where you inject the medication directly into your penis to increase blood flow. The good thing about the injections was that it’s a localized treatment, so the side effects (headache and flushed face) weren’t really a problem. However, in my experience, they just weren’t working. Like the medications, it was a race against time and a mental battle.
Of course, my erectile dysfunction never caused problems in my marriage. My wife is incredibly understanding. Besides, you can still have a sexual experience without an erection. For me, it was definitely part of the “being a man” thing. I wanted to feel confident again in my sexuality. So I did some research on the penile implant procedure and decided to give it a try.
Basically, an inflatable rubber bulb is placed in the scrotum, and then there’s a little round reservoir that holds sterile saline solution that is placed next to your bladder. From the reservoir, there are two little cylinders that go down into the penis. When you want an erection, you just squeeze the pump 10-15 times, and water is released from the reservoir in your bladder to those cylinders in your penis, simulating the rush of blood flow in a normal erection.
Once you get the implant, you can never achieve a normal erection again because those blood vessels are replaced with the devices. But that doesn’t bother me. I wouldn’t have gotten the surgery if I was getting normal erections in the first place.
Now, I was warned by my doctor that the recovery would not be pretty and that there would be a lot of pain and swelling for the first month. He wasn’t kidding. During the first two weeks I wondered if my penis would ever work again. But six weeks later, my wife and I were on a cruise to Alaska, and let me tell you--it worked. And it’s not a trade off or anything. I didn’t lose any sensation in the area. It’s incredible.
My best advice for other men experiencing erectile dysfunction would be to explore all of the options. Some treatment options will work better for you than others. Don’t be afraid to have an open conversation with your doctor and your significant other.
Getting the surgery hasn’t changed my marriage. It hasn’t made me a better husband. But sex was a part of my life that I wasn’t ready to give up, and because of the surgery, I don’t have to.
Ed, 70, lives in Minneapolis, Minn., with his wife.