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 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.
Erectile dysfunction can be caused by psychological, medical 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 vital to address any issues causing sexual dysfunction whether they be psychological or medical.
Blood can fill the corpora cavenosa, or chambers of the penis. 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. 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. Often, a doctor can provide a number of treatments that can improve a person’s sexual functioning and reduce the impact on relationships.
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 can confirm a diagnosis by examining the patient’s penis, taking a urine sample, and doing 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. 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 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. 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. Some people prefer to visit a health care provider by themselves.
Treatment for erectile dysfunction depends on the cause. It can be improved by managing diabetes and heart disease, and taking medications that help blood flow to the penis (such as nitrates). Treatment for pelvic cancer or BPH may also affect sexual function. Surgery for prostate or bladder issues can sometimes damage the nerves that control erections. 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. 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 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.