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Male Erectile Dysfunction

Erectile dysfunction is a common condition that affects more than 30 million men in the United States. Also known as impotence, erectile dysfunction is the inability to have a satisfactory erection for sexual activity. There are many different types and causes of erectile dysfunction. Indiana University School of Medicine Department of Urology faculty provide personalized treatment for erectile dysfunction through the school’s partnership with IU Health.

Common causes of erectile dysfunction include cardiovascular disease (heart disease), diabetes, hypertension, radical prostatectomy surgery for prostate cancer, prostate radiation treatment, pelvic trauma and spinal cord injuries.

Looking for Patient Care

Patients interested in learning more about sexual dysfunction care or scheduling an appointment with an IU School of Medicine faculty member can find support through IU Health.

Sexual Dysfunction Clinical Care


  • Injection Therapy
    A small needle is inserted into the side base of the penis and medication is directly injected into the erectile chamber of the penis. These medications vasodilate, or increase the blood flow to the penis.
  • Oral Medications
    A number of prescription medications are available to improve blood flow to the penis and encourage erections. Oral drug therapy is generally the first option for men experiencing impotence. Some men who take nitrate medications for heart disease may not be candidates for oral medications despite being healthy enough for sexual activity.
  • Urethral Suppositories
    MUSE is the trade name for prostaglandin suppository, a small pellet which is inserted in the opening of the urethra at the end of the penis. This medication absorbs into the tissue and allows an increase in blood flow to the penis.
  • Vacuum Pumps
    A cylinder is placed over the penis and pump is used to create a negative-pressure vacuum which draws blood into the penis, creating an erection. A stretchable constriction band is placed around the base of the penis to prevent blood draining out and thus maintaining the erection.

Inflatable Penile Prosthesis Surgery

The penile implant is a minimally invasive surgical solution for men with erectile dysfunction who do not respond to oral pills, injections or vacuum pumps. This unique solution allows spontaneity without risk of medication side effects. This surgical option has been used for male erectile dysfunction for more than 40 years. Since its development in 1973, more than 500,000 penile implants have been placed in men in the United States.

This procedure involves the placement of two soft plastic cylinders side by side into the shaft of the penis. A reservoir is inserted under the abdominal wall and filled with sterile water. This reservoir retains the fluid until the patient wants to inflate the cylinders to create an erection. A small pump is placed in the scrotum and is used to inflate or deflate the cylinders on demand. The pump moves the fluid between the penis cylinders and the hidden reservoirs. The surgery is performed through a small incision in the middle of the scrotum and generally takes 45 minutes.

Frequently Asked Questions

Male Erectile Dysfunction Faculty Experts

Helen Bernie, DO, MPH

Assistant Professor of Urology

Matthew J. Mellon, MD

Associate Professor of Urology