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.
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 vital to address any issues causing sexual dysfunction whether they be psychological or medical.
Blood can fill the corpora cavenosa, or chambers of the penis. This is caused by impulses from the genital and brain. ED can be caused by anything that blocks these signals, or prevents the blood flow to your penis. 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 feel embarrassed to discuss erectile dysfunction with their doctor. However, a diagnosis will help to treat the problem. Often, a doctor can provide a number of treatments that can improve a person’s sexual functioning and reduce the impact on relationships.
In addition to affecting a man’s physical health, erectile dysfunction can be disruptive to personal relationships. Partner’s of ED sufferers may feel upset or anxious, and may even suspect that their partner has been 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 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 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 to a Urologist.
The most common cause is a problem with blood circulation to the penis. 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 may also worsen ED. This can include feelings of low sex desire (loss in libido), anxiety, stress or depression from past experiences of ED. Having good communication with your sexual partner can help address these issues. A therapist may also be able to 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 for erectile dysfunction depends on the 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. Sometimes surgery for prostate or bladder problems can damage nerves that control 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. Before changing your medication, talk to your doctor.
Changing lifestyle habits, such as eating healthier food and exercising regularly, can reduce the symptoms in some people. Stress and anxiety levels can also be reduced. Counseling or psychotherapy may be helpful for those with psychological causes of ED. Some insurance policies cover these services. However, you can also pay for a private counselor. You may want to go to counseling with your partner. It can teach you how to support one another during this difficult period.