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 by a medical condition like diabetes, nerve or cardiovascular disease, a side effect of some medications, or psychological issues such as stress and relationship problems. Treatments range from medication to penile implants.
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 remain a mystery. 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 due to impulses coming from the brain and the 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 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 can often prescribe a variety of treatments to improve a patient’s sexual function and reduce the impact it has on their 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 who suffer from ED will stop sexual activity.
Erectile dysfunction is characterized by a failure to maintain and achieve an erection. It can also be characterized by a lifelong tendency to ejaculate prematurely (i.e. before or within ten seconds of vaginal penetrating) and psychological symptoms, such as performance anxiety. A doctor will confirm a diagnosis after examining the penis of the patient, taking a blood sample, and taking a urine test.
Erectile dysfunction is often treated by addressing its underlying cause. This may include managing a condition such as diabetes, heart disease, or stopping smoking and alcohol abuse. It can also involve 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 also refer to a 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 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 can also cause or make ED 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 help. It is sometimes helpful for partners to be involved in treatment sessions. Some people, however, prefer to consult a healthcare provider alone.
Erectile Dysfunction treatment depends on the underlying cause. Diabetes and heart disease can be managed, as well as taking medications to increase blood flow in the penis. Treatment for pelvic cancer or BPH may 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. Before changing your medication, talk to your doctor.
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. Counseling or psychotherapy may be helpful for those with 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.