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Erectile Dysfunction

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 either by a medical condition such as diabetes, nerve or heart disease, a medication side effect, or a psychological issue like stress or relationship issues. 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 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. ED can be caused if something blocks these signals or stops blood flow in the penis. 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.

Symptoms

In addition to affecting a man’s physical health, erectile dysfunction can be disruptive to personal relationships. People with ED can cause their partners to feel anxious and upset, or they may suspect that their partner is 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 the diagnosis by taking a sample of urine and performing 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 be a warning symptom for coronary heart diseases, so men should talk to their doctors about their sexual function.

Diagnosis

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 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 may also be able to help. Sometimes, partners can be helpful in the treatment sessions. Some people prefer to visit a health care provider by themselves.

Treatment

The treatment of erectile dysfunction depends on its underlying cause. You can improve it by managing diabetes, heart disease and taking medications (such as nitrates) that increase blood flow to the penis. Treatment for BPH or Pelvic Cancer can 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. Talk to your doctor before changing your medication.

Making lifestyle changes, such as eating healthy food and getting regular exercise, can reduce symptoms of ED in some people. Stress and anxiety levels can also be reduced. Psychotherapy and counseling can be helpful to those with psychological causes for ED. Some insurance policies cover these services. However, you can also pay for a private counselor. You might consider going with your partner to counseling sessions, which can teach both of you to support each other during this difficult time.