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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 by a variety of factors, often 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 disorder that affects a male’s sexual function. This can lead to emotional distress or marital problems. The causes of ED have not been fully understood. It is vital to address any issues causing sexual dysfunction whether they be psychological or medical.

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. ED can also be caused by medical conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease. 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. Often, a doctor can provide a number of treatments that can improve a person’s sexual functioning and reduce the impact 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.

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 will confirm a diagnosis after examining the penis of the patient, taking a blood sample, and taking a urine test.

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 professional can diagnose ED by asking questions, giving you a physical exam and ordering lab tests. He may refer you to an 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 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. Sometimes, partners can be helpful in the treatment sessions. Some people prefer to visit a health care provider by themselves.

Treatment

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. Sexual function may be affected by treatment for BPH or pelvic cancer. Surgery for prostate and bladder problems can damage the nerves controlling an erection. The problem usually gets better with time.

Some medications can cause ED as a side effect, including some blood pressure drugs (especially thiazides) and some antidepressants. 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. 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.