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Erectile Dysfunction

Erectile Dysfunction (ED) affects over 30 million men in the US and 150 million 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 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.

When blood fills the corpora venosa (the chambers within his penis), a man can get erection. This occurs as a result of impulses from the brain and genital nerves. ED can be caused if something blocks these signals or stops blood flow in the 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.

Some men may be embarrassed to talk to their doctor about erectile problems, but a diagnosis is essential to help treat the condition. 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.

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 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.

Diagnosis

A health care professional may diagnose ED with questions, a physical exam, and lab tests. He may also refer to a Urologist.

The most common cause of ED is problems with blood flow to the penis. This can be caused by a condition called atherosclerosis, which is narrowing or clogging of the arteries. This condition can be caused not only by ageing but also by being overweight, smoking or 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, partners can be helpful in the treatment sessions. However, some people prefer to see a health care provider alone.

Treatment

Erectile Dysfunction treatment depends on the 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 BPH or Pelvic Cancer can also affect sexual function. Surgery for prostate and bladder problems can damage the nerves controlling an erection. The problem will usually improve with time.

Some medications (especially thiazides and antidepressants) can cause ED. Speak to your doctor about 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 policies cover these services. However, you can also pay for a private counselor. You may want to go to counseling with your partner. It can teach you how to support one another during this difficult period.