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Erectile Dysfunction

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 can range from penile implants to medication.

Causes

Erectile Dysfunction can be caused by medical, psychological 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 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. 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 treatments can also affect the ability of a man to maintain and get 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

In addition to affecting a man’s physical health, erectile dysfunction can be disruptive to 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.

Erectile dysfunction is characterized by a failure to maintain and achieve an erection. It can also be characterized by a lifelong tendency to ejaculate prematurely (i.e. before or within ten seconds of vaginal penetrating) 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 can be a warning symptom for coronary heart diseases, so men should talk to their doctors about their sexual function.

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 is a problem with blood circulation to the penis. This can be caused by a condition called atherosclerosis, which is narrowing or clogging of the 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 may also worsen ED. 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. Good communication with your partner will help to address these issues. A therapist can also help. Sometimes it is helpful to have a partner involved in treatment sessions. However, some people prefer to see a health care 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. 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 usually gets better with time.

Some medications, such as some blood pressure drugs (especially thiazides), and some antidepressants, can cause ED. Speak to your doctor about changing your medication.

Making lifestyle changes, such as eating healthy food and getting regular exercise, can reduce symptoms of ED 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 will cover these services. You can also pay privately to see a counsellor. You could go to counseling sessions with your partner. This can help you both learn how to support each other through this difficult time.