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Erectile Dysfunction

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 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 can range from penile implants to medication.

Causes

Erectile Dysfunction is caused by medical, mental or physical factors. It is a common disorder that affects a male’s sexual function. This can lead to emotional distress or marital problems. The causes of ED are not fully understood. It is important to address any issues that may be causing the sexual dysfunction, whether they are 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. ED can be caused by medical problems such as diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure. Surgery and cancer treatment may also affect a male’s ability to have and maintain 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 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. Partner’s of ED sufferers may feel upset or anxious, and may even suspect that their partner has been 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 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.

Diagnosis

A health care provider can diagnose ED through questions, a physical examination and ordering lab tests. He may also refer to a Urologist.

The most common cause of ED is problems with blood flow to the penis. 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 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. Some people prefer to visit a health care provider by themselves.

Treatment

The treatment of erectile dysfunction depends on its underlying cause. Diabetes and heart disease can be managed, as well as taking medications to increase blood flow in 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 will usually improve with time.

Some medications (especially thiazides and antidepressants) can cause ED. Speak to your doctor about changing your medication.

Some people can reduce the symptoms of ED by making lifestyle changes such as eating healthily and exercising regularly. Stress and anxiety levels can also be reduced. Psychotherapy or counseling may be beneficial for those who have psychological causes of 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.