Men's Health

Men’s Health Questions Answered: What if Erectile Dysfunction Medication Stops Working?

Dane P. Johnson, MD

Men’s health topics are important to discuss with a doctor, but for many men it is difficult to have these conversations with their health care provider. Discussing sex, prostate health and hormonal imbalance can be uncomfortable, but understanding these conditions and how they affect overall health is critically important for every man.

Dane Johnson, MD, Assistant Professor of Urologic Surgery at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, specializes in men’s health. Johnson sees couples for male factor infertility, helps couples achieve pregnancy through his urologic expertise and provides therapies for a range of men’s health conditions. He encourages men to ask their questions and engage in honest conversations with their doctors. To help start this conversation, Johnson answers some of the questions regarding the treatment of a sensitive, but important men’s health condition: Erectile Dysfunction

Erectile Dysfunction Therapy Questions Answered

Can erectile dysfunction medicines stop working?

The short answer is yes.

Oral medications like pills can be convenient for men. They are easy to take, and allow for spontaneous results. However, many times, the medicine that a man uses to address erectile dysfunction stops working. It’s not because you’re doing anything wrong, but rather that the disease that has caused your erectile dysfunction has progressed further. When this happens, there are other solutions that we can consider.

By seeing a specialist who treats erectile dysfunction on a daily basis, you are seeing somebody who is well-versed in all of the additional medical therapies available. If you stop responding to a medication, now is a good time to discuss this with a urologist.

What is injection therapy?

If you no longer respond to oral medication, an injectable therapy may be your next best option. This involves using medicine similar to the one you have been taking, but instead of taking it by mouth, it is placed in a syringe and injected directly into the penile body. At that location, it is more potent and can result in a much better erection than you are currently getting. Many men respond very well to this therapy, and can do so for several years.

What if injection therapy doesn’t work?

If at some point any and all medicines no longer work for you, the next step may be surgical therapy for erectile dysfunction. You have options, and a Washington University Urologist will help you navigate those options and achieve your desired outcome.

Surgery for erectile dysfunction involves placement of a penile prosthesis that allows you to get a rigid erection on demand, without any question whether medicine will work for you this time. It’s an effective and very popular solution that may result in a permanent cure for erectile dysfunction.

Surgical therapy for erectile dysfunction can be a daunting concept for many patients. The idea of having an incision in a very sensitive area can send many people fleeing from their doctor. By seeing a specialist at Washington University who regularly does surgical therapies for erectile dysfunction, you are seeing the experts in the field, who will treat you with respect as well as expertise knowledge.

We perform surgery in an outpatient basis, where you go home after your surgical treatment—whether it’s the same day or the next day. You are asleep during the procedure. Most patients experience only one to two weeks of discomfort after their surgery. Surgery can result in permanent, lifelong improvement in erectile dysfunction. On average, surgery results in functional erections for 10 or more years, and any future surgeries tend to have much quicker recovery times.

The right therapy for you depends on your situation. Washington University Urologists are committed to providing the right treatment for you. If that treatment stops working, we will help you find the solution that will meet your health goals and needs.