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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 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 range from medication to penile implants.

Causes

Erectile Dysfunction is caused by medical, mental or physical factors. It is a condition that affects the sexual function of men. This can cause emotional distress and marital issues. 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 is caused by impulses from the genital and brain. 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 treatments can also affect the ability of a man to maintain and get 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 can often prescribe a variety of treatments to improve a patient’s sexual function and reduce the impact it has on their 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 who suffer from ED will stop 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 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 be a warning symptom for coronary heart diseases, so men should talk to their doctors about their sexual function.

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 is a problem with blood circulation 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. These feelings can include low sex motivation (loss libido), depression, anxiety or stress from past ED experiences or side effects. Having good communication with your sexual partner can help 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 BPH or Pelvic Cancer can also affect sexual function. Surgery for prostate or bladder issues can sometimes damage the nerves that control erections. 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. Speak to your doctor about changing your medication.

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 plans will cover these services. You can also pay privately to see a counsellor. You may want to go to counseling with your partner. It can teach you how to support one another during this difficult period.