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Venous Leak: A Cause of Erectile Dysfunction In Younger Men

Overview:

  • Venous leak is a condition where the veins in the penis cannot store blood well enough to keep an erection.
  • Venous leak is linked to other health conditions, such as anxiety, heart disease, and Peyronie’s disease.
  • Treatment for venous leak may require oral erectile dysfunction (ED) medications, lifestyle changes, or surgery.
  • Some men benefit from a combination of treatment methods, lifestyle changes, and sexual aids. Your provider can help you to select the best treatment plan for your condition!

Venous leak is a common cause of erectile dysfunction (ED) in young men and in men with other health conditions. Fortunately, there are several effective treatment options available for venous leak. Read on to learn more about venous leak and how to overcome this condition.

What is Venous Leak?

Venous leak describes what occurs when your veins cannot retain blood during an erection. This is a common cause of ED in younger men and men with vascular conditions, like hypertension.

During arousal, blood flows into your penis to cause an erection. The arteries must be able to expand to allow for the blood flow, but the veins must also work to constrict and trap the blood inside. When your veins cannot constrict well enough to keep blood in your penis, then you will lose the erection.

What Causes Venous Leak?

Venous leak is often a first sign of heart disease. This condition is also linked to several other health conditions, like diabetes and severe anxiety. Your lifestyle and existing health conditions may cause or contribute to venous leak.

These factors commonly contribute to venous leak:

  • Anxiety
  • Diabetes
  • Peyronie’s disease
  • Nerve disorders
  • Radiation therapy
  • Smoking
  • Vascular disease (or any disease that affects the blood vessels)

A good guideline to remember is that any condition that negatively impacts your vascular health will put you at risk for ED. Erectile health is strongly linked to heart health, making ED an early sign of potential serious health problems. You should speak with your doctor if you notice frequent problems with achieving or maintaining an erection.

How is Venous Leak Diagnosed?Banana and stethoscope.

To diagnose venous leak, your doctor will likely conduct several tests. They will want to take a full medical history, assess for serious health conditions, and determine the root cause of your ED. Your doctor will select the tests that best suit your symptoms.

Your doctor might conduct one or more of these tests:

  • Doppler ultrasound. This test is noninvasive and uses sound waves to show blood flow throughout the body. Your doctor will specifically look at blood flow in and out of your penis.
  • Cavernosometry. Dynamic infusion cavernosometry is used to measure the pressure in the penis during an erection. This helps them to assess the severity of venous leakage. This test is usually only performed after Doppler ultrasound.
  • Various blood tests. Your doctor will likely want to assess for vascular conditions, diabetes, and any other problems that require prompt medical attention.

What Treatments Available for Venous Leak?

Your treatment will depend on the severity of your condition and any other health conditions you might have. Many men find oral ED medications to be helpful in treating venous leak, but some men require more intensive therapies. Your doctor may recommend a combination of lifestyle changes and treatment options.

Treatment options for venous leak include:

  • ED medications. Oral ED medications, like Viagra and Cialis, are often the first line of defense against ED. They have been demonstrated as being safe and effective for most men living with ED. If you cannot take oral medications for ED, you might find luck with urethral suppositories or penile injections.
  • Lifestyle changes. Any lifestyle changes that improve vascular health can benefit your erectile health. This might include modifications to your diet and exercise routine.
  • Penile implants. More severe cases of venous leak may require a surgical penile implant. These implants work by stiffening the penis, which allows sex to occur uninterrupted. There are two types of penile implants, inflatable and semirigid.
  • Penile injections. This involves a direct injection of an ED drug into either side of the penis. Typically, your doctor will perform the first injection, and you will self-administer future injections 15 to 30 minutes before sex.
  • Surgery. If other treatment options have not proved successful, you may require vascular surgery. Specifically, penile revascularization and crural ligation surgery can repair leaking veins. However, these surgeries are intensive and require additional research to demonstrate their long-term effectiveness.
  • Therapy or sex therapy. If your venous leak is caused by severe anxiety, you will likely benefit from therapy or sex therapy to work through the root cause of the problem. Sex therapy can also help you to work through any sexual problems with your current partner that can contribute to ED.
  • Urethral suppository. The same drug used in penile injections can also be used as a suppository. This involves using an applicator to insert a small suppository into their urethra. This induces an erection within 10 minutes that can last up to 60 minutes.

You might benefit from a combination of treatment methods or the use of sexual aids, like vacuum devices or constriction rings. You should also keep an eye out for emerging treatments for venous leak. You should never begin taking medications for ED without first consulting a medical professional.

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