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Erectile Dysfunction

Erectile Dysfunction affects more than 30 million men in the US, and 150 millions worldwide. It can be caused by a variety of factors, often in combination.

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 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 have not been fully understood. It is important to address all issues that could be causing sexual dysfunction, regardless of whether they are medical or psychological.

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 be embarrassed about talking to their doctor, but it is important to get a diagnosis to treat the condition. A doctor may prescribe treatments that improve sexual functioning and can reduce the impact of the condition on relationships.

Symptoms

Erectile dysfunction affects a man’s health and can also disrupt his personal relationships. 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 will confirm a diagnosis after examining the penis of the patient, taking a blood sample, and taking a urine test.

Erectile dysfunction is often treated by addressing its underlying cause. This may include managing a condition such as diabetes, heart disease, or stopping smoking and alcohol abuse. It can also involve treating anxiety or depression. ED is a warning sign of coronary heart disease. Men should discuss their sexual function and their doctor.

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 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. Good communication with your partner will help to address these issues. A therapist can help. It is sometimes helpful for partners to be involved in treatment sessions. Some people prefer to visit a health care provider by themselves.

Treatment

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.

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 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.