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Treating Erectile Dysfunction

​Pelvic Floor Dysfunction is often treated by Physical Therapists; however, Occupational Therapists also have a role in treating pfd.  As an Occupational Therapist I have been trained to address sexual activity and dysfunction for improving quality of life.  Many people suffer, often in silence, about sexual dysfunction and decreased satisfaction. 

 The following diagnosis and disabilities interfere with a person’s sexuality and relationships: spinal cord injuries, arthritis, diabetes, stroke, traumatic brain injury, endocrine issues, cardiovascular disease, mental disorders, cancer, chronic disabilities and post-surgical recovery.  Many of these contribute to physical pain, stiffness, vaginal dryness, erectile dysfunction, fatigue, psychological effects, depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem.

In treating pelvic floor dysfunction we see many women that seek help; however men also suffer with sexual dysfunction.  They also benefit from pelvic floor therapy to assess skin integrity, scar tissue, and musculoskeletal, neuromuscular function/dysfunction.  Erectile dysfunction can occur from numerous disabilities, diseases, and conditions.  There are many treatment options that can be considered such as oral medication, hormones, suppository pellets, penile injections, penis implant, vibration, use of vacuum devices/penis pumps, and pelvic floor therapy.  Many people are not aware of these options and are looking for less invasive techniques including vacuum devices/penis pumps and pelvic floor therapy.

Vacuum devices have a wide variation of cost, and can be manual or battery operated.  The device is a cylinder that fits externally over the penis.  The vacuum is turned on, or is activated with a manual pump to create a vacuum. This vacuum effect helps produce the erection while the ring allows the blood and semen to remain in the penis and sustain an erection. After the vacuum is released, the pump is removed; lubricant is applied to slide the ring to the base of the penis. The ring is removed after 15-30 minutes depending on your medical condition, to prevent complications of loss of blood flow.  It is recommended that the pumps that are used have a “quick release” option.    

It is recommended that you consult with your physician and/or urologist for the best options to treat erectile dysfunction contraindications.   There are specialists/representatives that work with physician offices in providing vacuum/penis pumps and training.  

Tami Faris OTR/L, CLT-LANA

This blog is here for your help. It is the opinion of a Licensed Occupational Therapist. If you experience the symptoms addressed you should seek the help of a medical professional who can diagnose and develop a treatment plan that is individualized for you.  If you enjoyed this blog, check out our website at for more blog entries and to learn more about our specialty PT practice, Foundational Concepts.  Follow us on Twitter @Foundational1 and like us on Facebook/Foundational Concepts for updates.

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