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 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.
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 are not fully understood. It is important to address all issues that could be causing sexual dysfunction, regardless of whether they are medical or psychological.
Blood can fill the corpora cavenosa, or chambers of the penis. 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 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. Often, a doctor can provide a number of treatments that can improve a person’s sexual functioning and reduce the impact on relationships.
In addition to affecting a man’s physical health, erectile dysfunction can be disruptive to personal relationships. Partners of people with ED may feel upset and anxious, or may suspect their partner is being unfaithful. As a result, many people who suffer with ED withdraw from sexual activity.
Symptoms of erectile dysfunction can include a failure to achieve and maintain an erection; lifelong premature ejaculation (i.e., ejaculating before or within one minute of vaginal penetration); 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 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 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 may diagnose ED with questions, a physical exam, and lab tests. He may also refer 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 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. This can include feelings of low sex desire (loss in libido), anxiety, stress or depression from past experiences of ED. Communication with your partner can help you address these issues. A therapist can 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. You can improve it by managing diabetes, heart disease and taking medications (such as nitrates) that increase blood flow to 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, such as some blood pressure drugs (especially thiazides), and some antidepressants, can cause ED. Talk to your doctor before changing your medication.
Making lifestyle changes, such as eating healthy food and getting regular exercise, can reduce symptoms of ED in some people. Stress and anxiety levels can also be reduced. 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 might consider going with your partner to counseling sessions, which can teach both of you to support each other during this difficult time.