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 a result of a medical problem like diabetes, nerve, or cardiovascular disease, as well as a side-effect from some medications or psychological issues, such stress and relationship issues. Treatments range from medication to penile implants.
Erectile Dysfunction is caused by medical, mental 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 remain a mystery. It is important to address all issues that could be causing sexual dysfunction, regardless of whether they are medical or psychological.
When blood fills the corpora venosa (the chambers within his penis), a man can get erection. This occurs as a result of impulses from the brain and genital nerves. Anything that blocks these signals or prevents blood flow to the penis can cause ED. Medical problems, such as heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure, can lead to ED. Surgery and cancer treatment can also affect a man’s ability to get and keep an erection.
Men may be embarrassed about talking to their doctor, but it is important to get a diagnosis to treat the condition. A doctor may prescribe treatments that improve sexual functioning and can reduce the impact of the condition on relationships.
Erectile dysfunction can disrupt relationships in men, as well as their physical health. Partner’s of ED sufferers may feel upset or anxious, and may even suspect that their partner has been unfaithful. Many people who suffer from ED will stop 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 can confirm a diagnosis by examining the patient’s penis, taking a urine sample, and doing blood tests.
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 is a warning sign of coronary heart disease. Men should discuss their sexual function and their doctor.
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. Atherosclerosis can cause this condition, which is the narrowing or blocking of arteries. This condition is usually caused by aging, but can also be caused by smoking, high blood-pressure, and certain medications.
Emotional problems can also cause or make ED worse. These feelings can include low sex motivation (loss libido), depression, anxiety or stress from past ED experiences or side effects. Good communication with your partner will help to 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.
Treatment for erectile dysfunction depends on the cause. Diabetes and heart disease can be managed, as well as taking medications to increase blood flow in the penis. Sexual function may be affected by treatment for BPH or pelvic cancer. Surgery for prostate or bladder issues can sometimes damage the nerves that control erections. The problem usually improves with time.
Some medications, such as some blood pressure drugs (especially thiazides), and some antidepressants, can cause ED. Speak to your doctor about changing your medication.
Some people can reduce the symptoms of ED by making lifestyle changes such as eating healthily and exercising regularly. Reduced stress and anxiety can also 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 could go to counseling sessions with your partner. This can help you both learn how to support each other through this difficult time.