Erectile Dysfunction, or ED, affects over 30 millions men in the US. It also affects 150 million men 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 can range from penile implants to medication.
Erectile Dysfunction is caused by medical, mental or physical factors. It is a common disorder that affects a male’s sexual function. This can lead to emotional distress or 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. 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 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.
In addition to affecting a man’s physical health, erectile dysfunction can be disruptive to personal relationships. Partner’s of ED sufferers may feel upset or anxious, and may even suspect that their partner has been unfaithful. As a result, many people who suffer with ED withdraw from 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 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 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 you 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 condition is usually caused by aging, but can also be caused by smoking, high blood-pressure, and certain medications.
Emotional problems can also cause or make ED worse. This can include feelings of low sex desire (loss in libido), anxiety, stress or depression from past experiences of ED. Good communication with your partner will help to 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.
The treatment of erectile dysfunction depends on its underlying cause. Diabetes and heart disease can be managed, as well as taking medications to increase blood flow in the penis. Sexual function may be affected by treatment for BPH or pelvic cancer. Sometimes surgery for prostate or bladder problems can damage nerves that control an erection. The problem usually gets better with time.
Some medications (especially thiazides and antidepressants) can cause ED. 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 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.