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Erectile Dysfunction

Erectile Dysfunction affects more than 30 million men in the US, and 150 millions 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 range from medication to penile implants.

Causes

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 are not fully understood. It is important to address all issues that could be causing sexual dysfunction, regardless of whether they are medical or psychological.

When blood fills the corpora venosa (the chambers within his penis), a man can get erection. 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 be caused by medical problems such as diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure. Surgery and cancer treatment can also affect a man’s ability to get and keep 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.

Symptoms

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 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 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 is a warning sign of coronary heart disease. Men should discuss their sexual function and their doctor.

Diagnosis

A health care provider can diagnose ED through questions, a physical examination and ordering lab tests. He may refer you to an Urologist.

The most common cause of ED is problems with blood flow 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 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 may also be able to help. Sometimes it is helpful to have a partner involved in treatment sessions. Some people, however, prefer to consult a healthcare provider alone.

Treatment

The treatment of erectile dysfunction depends on its underlying cause. You can improve it by managing diabetes, heart disease and taking medications (such as nitrates) that increase blood flow to the penis. Sexual function may be affected by treatment for BPH or pelvic cancer. 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. Before changing your medication, talk to your doctor.

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. 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 may want to go to counseling with your partner. It can teach you how to support one another during this difficult period.