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 include medication and penile implant.
Erectile Dysfunction is caused by medical, mental 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 are not fully understood. It is important to address any issues that may be causing the sexual dysfunction, whether they are psychological or medical.
A man can get an erection when blood fills chambers in his penis, called the corpora cavernosa. This occurs due to impulses coming from the brain and the 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.
Some men may be embarrassed to talk to their doctor about erectile problems, but a diagnosis is essential to help treat the condition. A doctor may prescribe treatments that improve sexual functioning and can reduce the impact of the condition 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 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 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 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 is usually caused by aging, but can also be caused by smoking, high blood-pressure, and 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. Good communication with your partner will help to address these issues. A therapist can also help. Sometimes, partners can be helpful in the treatment sessions. Some people prefer to visit a health care provider by themselves.
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 pelvic cancer or BPH may also affect sexual function. Surgery for prostate and bladder problems can damage the nerves controlling 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. Talk to your doctor before 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 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 could go to counseling sessions with your partner. This can help you both learn how to support each other through this difficult time.