Erectile Dysfunction, or ED, affects over 30 millions men in the US. It also affects 150 million men worldwide. It can be caused by a variety of factors, often in combination.
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 common condition that affects a man’s sexual function, which can lead to emotional distress and marital problems. The causes of ED remain a mystery. It is important to address any issues that may be causing the sexual dysfunction, whether they are psychological or medical.
Blood can fill the corpora cavenosa, or chambers of the penis. 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 can often prescribe a variety of treatments to improve a patient’s sexual function and reduce the impact it has on their relationships.
In addition to affecting a man’s physical health, erectile dysfunction can be disruptive to personal relationships. Partners of people with ED may feel upset and anxious, or may suspect their partner is being 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 can confirm a diagnosis by examining the patient’s penis, taking a urine sample, and doing blood tests.
Erectile dysfunction is often treated by addressing its underlying cause. This may include managing a condition such as diabetes, heart disease, or stopping smoking and alcohol abuse. It can also involve treating anxiety or depression. ED can also be a forewarning symptom of progressive coronary heart disease, so it’s important that men discuss their sexual function with their doctors.
A health care professional may diagnose ED with questions, a physical exam, and lab tests. He may also refer to a Urologist.
Problems with blood flow to penis are the most common cause of ED. Atherosclerosis is a condition that causes narrowing or clogging in the arteries. This condition is usually caused by aging, but can also be caused by smoking, high blood-pressure, and certain medications.
Emotional problems are also a cause of ED or can make it worse. 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. Communication with your partner can help you address these issues. A therapist can help. It is sometimes helpful for partners to be involved in treatment sessions. Some people prefer to visit a health care provider by themselves.
Erectile Dysfunction treatment depends on the 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 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.
Changing lifestyle habits, such as eating healthier food and exercising regularly, can reduce the symptoms in some people. 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.