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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 a number of ways, sometimes 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 disorder that affects a male’s sexual function. This can lead to emotional distress or 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.

When blood fills the corpora venosa (the chambers within his penis), a man can get erection. This occurs due to impulses coming from the brain and the 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 treatments can also affect the ability of a man to maintain and get an erection.

Men may feel embarrassed to discuss erectile dysfunction with their doctor. However, a diagnosis will help to treat the problem. 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. Partners of people with ED may feel upset and anxious, or may suspect their partner is being 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 a diagnosis by examining the patient’s penis, taking a urine sample, and doing blood tests.

Erectile Dysfunction can be treated by addressing underlying causes. This could include managing a health condition like diabetes or heart disease or stopping smoking or drinking alcohol, or treating anxiety and depression. ED is a warning sign of coronary heart disease. Men should discuss their sexual function and their doctor.

Diagnosis

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 is a condition that causes narrowing or clogging in the arteries. This condition is usually caused by aging, but can also be caused by smoking, high blood-pressure, and 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. Communication with your partner can help you address these issues. A therapist may also be able to help. Sometimes, partners can be helpful in the treatment sessions. Some people, however, prefer to consult a healthcare provider alone.

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). Sexual function may be affected by treatment for BPH or pelvic cancer. Sometimes surgery for prostate or bladder problems can damage nerves that control an erection. The problem usually gets better with time.

Some medications, such as some blood pressure drugs (especially thiazides), and some antidepressants, can cause ED. Talk to your doctor before changing your medication.

Some people can reduce the symptoms of ED by making lifestyle changes such as eating healthily and exercising regularly. Reduced stress and anxiety can also help. Psychotherapy and counseling can be helpful to those with psychological causes for 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.