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 include medication and penile implant.
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 vital to address any issues causing sexual dysfunction whether they be 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. Anything that blocks these signals or prevents blood flow to the penis can cause ED. 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.
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 is a warning sign of coronary heart disease. Men should discuss their sexual function and their doctor.
A health care provider can diagnose ED through questions, a physical examination and ordering lab tests. He may also refer to a Urologist.
Problems with blood flow to penis are the most common cause of ED. 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 are also a cause of ED or can make it worse. 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, however, prefer to consult a healthcare provider alone.
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. Sometimes surgery for prostate or bladder problems can damage nerves that control an erection. The problem usually improves with time.
Some medications can cause ED as a side effect, including some blood pressure drugs (especially thiazides) and some antidepressants. Before changing your medication, talk to your doctor.
Changing lifestyle habits, such as eating healthier food and exercising regularly, can reduce the symptoms in some people. Lowering stress and anxiety levels also can help. 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 might consider going with your partner to counseling sessions, which can teach both of you to support each other during this difficult time.