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 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 have not been fully understood. It is important to address all issues that could be causing sexual dysfunction, regardless of whether they are medical or psychological.
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 by anything that blocks these signals, or prevents the blood flow to your penis. ED can be caused by medical problems such as diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure. Surgery and cancer treatment can also affect a man’s ability to get and keep an erection.
Some men may be embarrassed to talk to their doctor about erectile problems, but a diagnosis is essential to help treat the condition. Often, a doctor can provide a number of treatments that can improve a person’s sexual functioning and reduce the impact on 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 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 can be a warning symptom for coronary heart diseases, so men should talk to their doctors about their sexual function.
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 can cause this condition, which is the narrowing or blocking of arteries. This is often caused by ageing, but it can be caused by other things too – including being overweight, smoking, high blood pressure and taking certain medications.
Emotional problems are also a cause of ED or can make it worse. These feelings can include low sex motivation (loss libido), depression, anxiety or stress from past ED experiences or side effects. 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, however, prefer to consult a healthcare provider alone.
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 BPH or Pelvic Cancer can also affect sexual function. Surgery for prostate or bladder issues can sometimes damage the nerves that control erections. 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. 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 might consider going with your partner to counseling sessions, which can teach both of you to support each other during this difficult time.