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 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 range from medication to penile implants.
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 remain a mystery. 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 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 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 feel embarrassed to discuss erectile dysfunction with their doctor. However, a diagnosis will help to treat the problem. A doctor may prescribe treatments that improve sexual functioning and can reduce the impact of the condition on relationships.
Erectile dysfunction affects a man’s health and can also disrupt his personal relationships. Partners of people with ED may feel upset and anxious, or may suspect their partner is being unfaithful. Many people who suffer from ED will stop 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 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 also be a forewarning symptom of progressive coronary heart disease, so it’s important that men discuss their sexual function with their doctors.
A health care professional can diagnose ED by asking questions, giving you a physical exam and ordering lab tests. He may also refer you to a Urologist.
Problems with blood flow to penis are the most common cause of ED. Atherosclerosis is a condition that causes narrowing or clogging in the 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. These feelings can include low sex motivation (loss libido), depression, anxiety or stress from past ED experiences or side effects. Communication with your partner can help you address these issues. A therapist can also help. Sometimes, partners can be helpful in the treatment sessions. Some people, however, prefer to consult a healthcare provider alone.
The treatment of erectile dysfunction depends on its underlying cause. It can be improved by managing diabetes and heart disease, and taking medications that help blood flow to the penis (such as nitrates). 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 usually improves with time.
Some medications, such as some blood pressure drugs (especially thiazides), and some antidepressants, can cause ED. Before changing your medication, talk to your doctor.
Making lifestyle changes, such as eating healthy food and getting regular exercise, can reduce symptoms of ED 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 could go to counseling sessions with your partner. This can help you both learn how to support each other through this difficult time.