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Erectile Dysfunction

Erectile Dysfunction (ED) affects over 30 million men in the US and 150 million 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 range from medication to penile implants.

Causes

Erectile dysfunction can be caused by psychological, medical or physical factors. It is a common disorder that affects a male’s sexual function. This can lead to emotional distress or marital problems. The causes of ED have not been fully understood. It is important to address any issues that may be causing the sexual dysfunction, whether they are psychological or medical.

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 also be caused by medical conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease. Surgery and cancer treatment may also affect a male’s ability to have and maintain 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.

Symptoms

Erectile dysfunction affects a man’s health and can also disrupt his personal relationships. 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.

Symptoms of erectile dysfunction can include a failure to achieve and maintain an erection; lifelong premature ejaculation (i.e., ejaculating before or within one minute of vaginal penetration); and psychological symptoms such as 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 can also be a forewarning symptom of progressive coronary heart disease, so it’s important that men discuss their sexual function with their doctors.

Diagnosis

A health care provider can diagnose ED through questions, a physical examination and ordering lab tests. He may refer you to an Urologist.

The most common cause is a problem with blood circulation 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. This can include feelings of low sex desire (loss in libido), anxiety, stress or depression from past experiences of ED. Communication with your partner can help you address these issues. A therapist can help. Sometimes it is helpful to have a partner involved in treatment sessions. Some people prefer to visit a health care provider by themselves.

Treatment

Erectile Dysfunction treatment depends on the underlying 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 and bladder problems can damage the nerves controlling an erection. The problem usually improves 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 could go to counseling sessions with your partner. This can help you both learn how to support each other through this difficult time.