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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 a result of a medical problem like diabetes, nerve, or cardiovascular disease, as well as a side-effect from some medications or psychological issues, such stress and relationship issues. Treatments range from medication to penile implants.

Causes

Erectile dysfunction can be caused by psychological, medical 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 are not 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 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 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. 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. As a result, many people who suffer with ED withdraw from 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 can be a warning symptom for coronary heart diseases, so men should talk to their doctors about their sexual function.

Diagnosis

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. This can be caused by a condition called atherosclerosis, which is narrowing or clogging of the 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 help. Sometimes it is helpful to have a partner involved in treatment sessions. Some people, however, prefer to consult a healthcare provider alone.

Treatment

The treatment of erectile dysfunction depends on its underlying 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 improves with time.

Some medications (especially thiazides and antidepressants) can cause ED. Before changing your medication, talk to your doctor.

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. Psychotherapy and counseling can be helpful to those with psychological causes for ED. Some insurance plans cover these services, but you also can pay to see a counselor privately. You could go to counseling sessions with your partner. This can help you both learn how to support each other through this difficult time.