Erection problems are sometimes referred to as impotence or medically as erectile dysfunction. Erectile Dysfunction (ED) occurs when the penis cannot get erect enough to allow sexual relations. ED is very common – about 1 in 10 men in the UK are affected. There are many reasons for ED and there are varying degrees of ED. In some cases men are sometimes able to achieve an erection; others find that the penis gets slightly erect; while some are completely unable to achieve an erection.

Your appointment at the ED clinic

You will be seen by a doctor. He will listen to you, ask some questions and give you a medical examination. The doctor will then explain the treatments to you and discuss benefits and side effects of treatment. In most cases the choice lies with you.

Treatments for ED

Oral treatments

There are several tablet treatments available which are suitable for most men. The tablets are taken before sexual activity and allow a man to have an erection in response to sexual stimulation. However, for men who are taking medication or treatment for angina, these tablets are not usually suitable.


You or your partner can be taught to inject a drug directly into the shaft of the penis. Erection usually follows in 10-15 minutes.

Trans-urethral treatment

Using a disposable applicator, a small pellet of a drug is introduced into the urethra (water pipe). The drug is then
absorbed through the urethra into the erectile tissue, giving an erection in 5-15 minutes.

Vacuum device

The device consists of a plastic cylinder and tension rings. The penis is inserted into the device and a vacuum is created by a pumping action. Once the penis is erect, the tension band is slipped onto the base of the penis. The vacuum within the cylinder is released and the cylinder removed from the penis. The tension ring then remains on the penis for the duration of intercourse.

Note: The tension ring(s) must be removed after 30 minutes.

Accessing treatment

Some men are eligible to have treatment prescribed on the National Health Service (NHS). These include people who suffer from one of the following conditions:

  • Diabetes
  • Spinal cord injury
  • Poliomyelitis
  • Severe injury to the pelvis
  • Major surgery to the pelvis
  • Renal failure treated by dialysis or transplant
  • Prostate cancer
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Spina Bifida.

Other men will usually have to pay the cost of the treatment. The doctor will be able to discuss this with you.

Contact information

Urology Nurses
Telephone: 01935 384394