Erectile Dysfunction (ED) affects over 30 million men in the US and 150 million worldwide. It can be caused a number of ways, sometimes 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 is caused by medical, mental 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 are not fully understood. It is important to address any issues that may be causing the sexual dysfunction, whether they are psychological or medical.
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 treatments can also affect the ability of a man to maintain and get 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.
Erectile dysfunction can disrupt relationships in men, as well as their physical health. Partners of people with ED may feel upset and anxious, or may suspect their partner is being unfaithful. Many people with ED stop engaging in 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 often be treated by addressing the underlying cause, which may involve managing a health condition such as diabetes or heart disease, stopping smoking or alcohol abuse, and/or 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 provider can diagnose ED through questions, a physical examination and ordering lab tests. He may also refer you 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 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. Good communication with your partner will help to address these issues. A therapist can also help. Sometimes it is helpful to have a partner involved in treatment sessions. Some people, however, prefer to consult a healthcare provider alone.
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 gets better 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.
Making lifestyle changes, such as eating healthy food and getting regular exercise, can reduce symptoms of ED in some people. Lowering stress and anxiety levels also can help. Psychotherapy and counseling can be helpful to those with psychological causes for ED. Some insurance plans cover these services, but you also can pay to see a counselor privately. You might consider going with your partner to counseling sessions, which can teach both of you to support each other during this difficult time.