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Erectile Dysfunction

Erectile Dysfunction affects more than 30 million men in the US, and 150 millions worldwide. Many factors – often in combination – can cause it.

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 medical, psychological 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 are not fully understood. It is vital to address any issues causing sexual dysfunction whether they be 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. ED can also be caused by medical conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease. 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 can disrupt relationships in men, as well as their physical health. 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 is characterized by a failure to maintain and achieve an erection. It can also be characterized by a lifelong tendency to ejaculate prematurely (i.e. before or within ten seconds of vaginal penetrating) and psychological symptoms, such as 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 is a warning sign of coronary heart disease. Men should discuss their sexual function and their doctor.

Diagnosis

A health care professional may diagnose ED with questions, a physical exam, and lab tests. He may refer you to an 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 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. Good communication with your partner will help to address these issues. A therapist can also 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

The treatment of erectile dysfunction depends on its underlying cause. Diabetes and heart disease can be managed, as well as taking medications to increase blood flow in the penis. Sexual function may be affected by treatment for BPH or pelvic cancer. Surgery for prostate or bladder issues can sometimes damage the nerves that control erections. The problem will usually improve 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.

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 or counseling may be beneficial for those who have psychological causes of ED. Some insurance plans cover these services, but you also can pay to see a counselor privately. You may want to go to counseling with your partner. It can teach you how to support one another during this difficult period.