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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. Many factors – often in combination – can cause it.

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 is caused by medical, mental 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 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.

Blood can fill the corpora cavenosa, or chambers of the penis. This occurs due to impulses coming from the brain and the genital nerves. 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 treatment may also affect a male’s ability to have and maintain 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

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.

Symptoms of erectile dysfunction can include a failure to achieve and maintain an erection; lifelong premature ejaculation (i.e., ejaculating before or within one minute of vaginal penetration); and psychological symptoms such as 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 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 is a warning sign of coronary heart disease. Men should discuss their sexual function and their doctor.

Diagnosis

A health care professional can diagnose ED by asking questions, giving you a physical exam and ordering lab tests. He may also refer you to a Urologist.

The most common cause is a problem with blood circulation to the penis. This can be caused by a condition called atherosclerosis, which is narrowing or clogging of the arteries. This condition can be caused not only by ageing but also by being overweight, smoking or taking certain medications.

Emotional problems can also cause or make ED 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 it is helpful to have a partner involved in 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). Treatment for pelvic cancer or BPH may also affect sexual function. Surgery for prostate and bladder problems can damage the nerves controlling an erection. 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.

Making lifestyle changes, such as eating healthy food and getting regular exercise, can reduce symptoms of ED in some people. Stress and anxiety levels can also be reduced. 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 might consider going with your partner to counseling sessions, which can teach both of you to support each other during this difficult time.