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 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 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 have not been fully understood. 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 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. Medical problems, such as heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure, can lead to ED. Surgery and cancer treatment may also affect a male’s ability to have and maintain 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. Often, a doctor can provide a number of treatments that can improve a person’s sexual functioning and reduce the impact on relationships.
Erectile dysfunction affects a man’s health and can also disrupt his personal relationships. People with ED can cause their partners to feel anxious and upset, or they may suspect that their partner is 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 will confirm a diagnosis after examining the penis of the patient, taking a blood sample, and taking a urine test.
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 is a warning sign of coronary heart disease. Men should discuss their sexual function and their doctor.
A health care provider can diagnose ED through questions, a physical examination and ordering lab tests. He may also refer to a Urologist.
Problems with blood flow to penis are the most common cause of ED. Atherosclerosis can cause this condition, which is the narrowing or blocking of 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. Having good communication with your sexual partner can help address these issues. A therapist can also help. It is sometimes helpful for partners to be involved in treatment sessions. Some people prefer to visit a health care provider by themselves.
The treatment of erectile dysfunction depends on its 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, such as some blood pressure drugs (especially thiazides), and some 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 may want to go to counseling with your partner. It can teach you how to support one another during this difficult period.