By Max Kersting, Co-Founder of Regimen
Just as a therapist wouldn't only prescribe medication to address the symptoms of depression, practitioners need to explore a range of options that work in tandem with medication to help men achieve healthy erections.
Anyone over 30 has likely seen them: ads for digital pharmacies that push pills to "solve" erectile dysfunction, or from startups that claim to "cure" ED "naturally" by way of treatments with no scientific basis.
Both of these claims aren't just medically questionable; they also gloss over how these little blue pills for ED actually work and the role they can play in truly personalized, holistic therapy plans. It's not as simple as zeroes and ones, or taking pharmaceuticals like Viagra, Cialis and Levitra, or not.
Rather, just as a doctor wouldn't only prescribe antidepressants without also recommending therapy and lifestyle changes, practitioners need to explore a range of options that work in tandem with medications to help men achieve healthy erections. Pills aren't a silver bullet, but that doesn't mean they have to conflict with holistic, long-term therapies that can help address the many underlying causes of ED.
When we first started Regimen, we were tempted to position our product as an alternative to Viagra. Investors and clients would more easily understand what we wanted to build, we were told. In one of my very first company presentations, I actually incorporated a slide that asked our audience: “What would you choose?” It depicted a mockup of an app pitted against different pharmaceuticals.
But after taking a harder look at the science, that dichotomy didn't feel honest–it ignored what recent research and healthcare guidelines were telling us.
Most ED medications work in the same way: they block specific hormones for hours or days at a time to make for easier blood flow to the penis. This breakthrough has helped millions regain healthy sexual function and salvage their relationships. Twenty-five years after PDE5 inhibitors like sildenafil and tadalafil were greenlit for consumer use, they remain doctors’ first choice for symptomatic treatment of ED. But that doesn’t mean these pills "cure" erectile dysfunction–they can’t resolve its underlying causes.
On top of this, ED pills don’t always work as symptomatic treatment. For instance, the venous leak that caused my dysfunction was not affected in the least by my prescription–and cases like mine are not uncommon. ED medications are only effective in about 60 to 70 percent of users. And those suffering from contraindicating factors like heart disease can't take ED medications without the risk of exacerbating existing conditions.
Meanwhile, newer studies suggest that lifestyle changes–such as quitting smoking, increasing physical activity, strengthening the pelvic floor with targeted exercises, reducing stress and getting enough sleep–can be even more effective than PDE5 inhibitors in treating ED. For those already taking such medications, lifestyle changes can actually both increase the medications’ effectiveness, as well as decrease reliance on them. We hear such testimonials from our clients every day.
Given these strides in research and awareness over the past 25 years, why do doctors continue to only prescribe pills to treat ED, don't hear out the concerns of patients if they don't work, and find themselves at a loss should pharmaceuticals fail?
For one, widespread perceptions of pharmaceuticals as the end-all to men's sexual health issues are deeply entrenched in both society and the medical community. Despite the fact that erectile dysfunction is one of the best predictors of cardiovascular disease, stroke, heart attack, and mental health issues in those over 40, for example, there's very little monetary incentive for medical professionals to step outside of only prescribing drugs, or to treat erectile dysfunction as a symptom of these underlying issues.
This lack of education surrounding men's sexual health only compounds the shame that comes with experiencing erectile issues in the first place. On average, it takes two to three years for someone suffering from ED to visit a doctor. If their prescription doesn't work–or they're among the 10 to 25 percent of users to experience side effects–they're extremely unlikely to visit a doctor again for that issue. Studies now suggest that all these reasons contribute to the fact that one in two individuals prescribed ED medications will ultimately stop taking them.
Many of our users are in a similar boat–they've tried pills in the past, or are actively using them, when they begin to use Regimen. Many are discouraged that they don't work anymore, or not as well as they used to. Many have difficulties taking pills and want something more natural to address their erectile issues.
Regardless of whether or not pills are involved, Regimen is a trusted medical product that complements every kind of existing ED treatment: a personalized, straightforward and authentic guide that harnesses data and science to help individuals take back control of their intimate health–without making false promises.
We work with urologists, andrologists and cardiologists to learn the science behind holistic treatments for erectile dysfunction and assess how pills can fit into a personalized treatment plan. Think of it like taking your penis to the gym–just as you can't get in shape with protein powder alone, you can't achieve erectile health with just pills. They can provide immediate support for those suffering from ED and even help increase blood flow to support the body's natural regenerative process. In this respect, ED medications are one of many tools physicians can utilize to treat patients with erectile issues. But we need to put their use into context.
That's where Regimen comes in. We help those affected by ED tackle the root causes of their erectile issues instead of just addressing one symptom. In doing so, we seek to destigmatize all kinds of ED therapy–including PDE5 inhibitors–and start an open conversation about the pitfalls of pharmaceuticals when used as the single, go-to treatment for erectile dysfunction.
We've made progress in our mission. We've teamed up with public health organizations to study holistic treatments for erectile dysfunction, including an innovation program funded by the United Kingdom's National Health Service (NHS). We're working with insurance and pharmaceutical companies around the world to bring a product to market with Regimen as a core pillar of treatment, together with existing medicinal options. We're in conversations with leading research institutions to launch clinical trials on the efficacy of natural ED treatment plans. And we’re working with leading hospitals and research institutions to widen the scope of our product to help contextualize the use of medications in developing holistic treatments for serious health conditions adjacent to ED.
At Regimen, we're grateful that medicinal options like PDE5 inhibitors exist as an ED treatment option. But we want to empower patients and healthcare providers alike to let go of the myths of silver bullet treatments that have held them back for far too long, in favor of a holistic health program grounded in science that has implications beyond the treatment of ED.
Join the digital program that empowers you to treat your erection problems with a holistic approach. Self-assess your erectile function now and immediately receive guidance on how to improve it.