When the usual drugs failed, it was time to bring out the big guns.
Steve Thompson (not his real name), 57, of St. Louis, Mo., has dealt with erectile dysfunction for most of his adult lifehe was 24 when he first had trouble achieving and maintaining an erection. "People in those days thought it was psychological," he recalls. "They never considered it was a physical or circulatory problem. They'd say it's your fault, you're too uptight, or you don't know how to have sex properly. I knew something was wrong physically."
ED was an unending frustration that made Thompson gun-shy with women and dating increasingly difficult. After his urologist of 15 years tried him on oral ED medications like Viagra and Cialis and none of them worked, Thompson struck out on his own three years ago to seek advice from a sexual medicine specialist.
The specialist ran blood flow tests and found that the arteries in Thompson's penis had become blocked with scar tissue. In 2007, he recommended that Thompson try injecting a cocktail of three medications, and Thompson was thrilled with the result. For the first time since his 20s, Thompson was able to experience an erection for a full hour. His doctor taught him how to safely self-inject the drugs (which Thompson believes "could turn a eunuch into a porn star") so that he wouldn't have to stop by a doctor's office every time he wanted to have sex.
When we talked to him, Thompson hadn't yet had the chance to self-inject and actually have sex, but he was as eager as an adolescent to give it a shot. "Some people go on a date and bring a toothbrush," he jokes. "I go on a date and bring a bag of swabs, syringes, and a vial."