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 condition that affects the sexual function of men. This can cause emotional distress and marital issues. 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.
Blood can fill the corpora cavenosa, or chambers of the penis. This is caused by impulses from the genital and brain. Anything that blocks these signals or prevents blood flow to the penis can cause ED. ED can also be caused by medical conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease. Surgery and cancer treatment may also affect a male’s ability to have and maintain an erection.
Men may feel embarrassed to discuss erectile dysfunction with their doctor. However, a diagnosis will help to treat the problem. 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 can disrupt relationships in men, as well as their physical health. People with ED can cause their partners to feel anxious and upset, or they may suspect that their partner is 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 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 professional can diagnose ED by asking questions, giving you a physical exam 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 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 can also cause or make ED 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 can 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. 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. Sometimes surgery for prostate or bladder problems can damage nerves that control an erection. The problem will usually improve with time.
Some medications (especially thiazides and antidepressants) can cause ED. Talk to your doctor before changing your medication.
Making lifestyle changes, such as eating healthy food and getting regular exercise, can reduce symptoms of ED in some people. Lowering stress and anxiety levels also can 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 could go to counseling sessions with your partner. This can help you both learn how to support each other through this difficult time.