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 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 medical, psychological 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 remain a mystery. 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 due to impulses coming from the brain and the 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 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 may prescribe treatments that improve sexual functioning and can reduce the impact of the condition on relationships.
Erectile dysfunction affects a man’s health and can also disrupt his personal relationships. 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.
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 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 be a warning symptom for coronary heart diseases, so men should talk to their doctors about their sexual function.
A health care professional may diagnose ED with questions, a physical exam, and lab tests. He may refer you to an Urologist.
The most common cause is a problem with blood circulation to the penis. This can be caused by a condition called atherosclerosis, which is narrowing or clogging of 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. 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. 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 prefer to visit a health care provider by themselves.
Treatment for erectile dysfunction depends on the 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. Surgery for prostate or bladder issues can sometimes damage the nerves that control erections. The problem will usually improve 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. Stress and anxiety levels can also be reduced. 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.