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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. It can be caused a number of ways, sometimes 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 range from medication to penile implants.

Causes

Erectile Dysfunction can be caused by medical, psychological 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 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 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 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. Often, a doctor can provide a number of treatments that can improve a person’s sexual functioning and reduce the impact on relationships.

Symptoms

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. As a result, many people who suffer with ED withdraw from 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.

Diagnosis

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.

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 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. Having good communication with your sexual partner can help 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

Treatment for erectile dysfunction depends on the 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. Surgery for prostate and bladder problems can damage the nerves controlling an erection. The problem will usually improve with time.

Some medications, such as some blood pressure drugs (especially thiazides), and some 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. Lowering stress and anxiety levels also can help. Counseling or psychotherapy may be helpful for those with psychological causes of ED. Some insurance plans cover these services, but you also can pay to see a counselor privately. You may want to go to counseling with your partner. It can teach you how to support one another during this difficult period.