Erectile Dysfunction (ED) affects over 30 million men in the US and 150 million worldwide. Many factors – often in combination – can cause it.
It can be caused by a medical condition like diabetes, nerve or cardiovascular disease, a side effect of some medications, or psychological issues such as stress and relationship problems. Treatments can range from penile implants to medication.
Erectile dysfunction can be caused by psychological, medical or physical factors. It is a condition that affects the sexual function of men. This can cause emotional distress and marital issues. The causes of ED have not been fully understood. It is important to address all issues that could be causing sexual dysfunction, regardless of whether they are medical or psychological.
A man can get an erection when blood fills chambers in his penis, called the corpora cavernosa. This occurs as a result of impulses from the brain and genital nerves. ED can be caused if something blocks these signals or stops blood flow in the penis. ED can be caused by medical problems such as diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure. Surgery and cancer treatment may also affect a male’s ability to have and maintain an erection.
Some men may be embarrassed to talk to their doctor about erectile problems, but a diagnosis is essential to help treat the condition. A doctor may prescribe treatments that improve sexual functioning and can reduce the impact of the condition on relationships.
In addition to affecting a man’s physical health, erectile dysfunction can be disruptive to personal relationships. Partner’s of ED sufferers may feel upset or anxious, and may even suspect that their partner has been unfaithful. As a result, many people who suffer with ED withdraw from sexual activity.
Erectile dysfunction symptoms include inability to achieve or maintain an erection, lifelong premature ejaculation, (i.e. ejaculating within one minute before vaginal penetration), and psychological symptoms like performance anxiety. A doctor will confirm a diagnosis after examining the penis of the patient, taking a blood sample, and taking a urine test.
Erectile Dysfunction can be treated by addressing underlying causes. This could include managing a health condition like diabetes or heart disease or stopping smoking or drinking alcohol, or treating anxiety and depression. ED can be a warning symptom for coronary heart diseases, so men should talk to their doctors about their sexual function.
A health care professional may diagnose ED with questions, a physical exam, and lab tests. He may also refer to a Urologist.
The most common cause of ED is problems with blood flow to the penis. This can be caused by a condition called atherosclerosis, which is narrowing or clogging of the arteries. This condition can be caused not only by ageing but also by being overweight, smoking or taking certain medications.
Emotional problems may also worsen ED. These can include feelings of low sex drive (loss of libido), stress, depression or anxiety from past experiences with ED or from the side effects of some medications. Having good communication with your sexual partner can help address these issues. A therapist can also help. It is sometimes helpful for partners to be involved in treatment sessions. However, some people prefer to see a health care provider alone.
The treatment of erectile dysfunction depends on its underlying cause. It can be improved by managing diabetes and heart disease, and taking medications that help blood flow to the penis (such as nitrates). Treatment for pelvic cancer or BPH may also affect sexual function. Sometimes surgery for prostate or bladder problems can damage nerves that control an erection. The problem will usually improve with time.
Some medications can cause ED as a side effect, including some blood pressure drugs (especially thiazides) and some antidepressants. Talk to your doctor before changing your medication.
Some people can reduce the symptoms of ED by making lifestyle changes such as eating healthily and exercising regularly. Lowering stress and anxiety levels also can help. Psychotherapy or counseling may be beneficial for those who have psychological causes of ED. Some insurance plans cover these services, but you also can pay to see a counselor privately. You may want to go to counseling with your partner. It can teach you how to support one another during this difficult period.