Erectile Dysfunction (ED) affects over 30 million men in the US and 150 million 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 can range from penile implants to medication.
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 have not been 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 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 be caused by medical problems such as diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure. 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.
In addition to affecting a man’s physical health, erectile dysfunction can be disruptive to 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 can confirm the diagnosis by taking a sample of urine and performing blood tests.
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 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 can diagnose ED by asking questions, giving you a physical exam 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 condition is usually caused by aging, but can also be caused by smoking, high blood-pressure, and 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.
The treatment of erectile dysfunction depends on its underlying 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 usually gets better 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. Reduced stress and anxiety can also help. Psychotherapy or counseling may be beneficial for those who have psychological causes of ED. Some insurance policies cover these services. However, you can also pay for a private counselor. You may want to go to counseling with your partner. It can teach you how to support one another during this difficult period.