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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 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 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 remain a mystery. It is important to address all issues that could be causing sexual dysfunction, regardless of whether they are medical or psychological.

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. 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 may also affect a male’s ability to have and maintain an erection.

Some men may be embarrassed to talk to their doctor about erectile problems, but a diagnosis is essential to help 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

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. 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 can also be a forewarning symptom of progressive coronary heart disease, so it’s important that men discuss their sexual function with their doctors.

Diagnosis

A health care professional may diagnose ED with questions, a physical exam, and 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 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 feelings can include low sex motivation (loss libido), depression, anxiety or stress from past ED experiences or side effects. Good communication with your partner will help to address these issues. A therapist can help. It is sometimes helpful for partners to be involved in treatment sessions. However, some people prefer to see a health care provider alone.

Treatment

Erectile Dysfunction treatment depends on the underlying cause. You can improve it by managing diabetes, heart disease and taking medications (such as nitrates) that increase blood flow to the penis. Treatment for pelvic cancer or BPH may also affect sexual function. Surgery for prostate or bladder issues can sometimes damage the nerves that control erections. The problem will usually improve with time.

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

Changing lifestyle habits, such as eating healthier food and exercising regularly, can reduce the symptoms in some people. Lowering stress and anxiety levels also can help. Counseling or psychotherapy may be helpful for those with psychological causes of ED. Some insurance policies cover these services. However, you can also pay for a private counselor. You may want to go to counseling with your partner. It can teach you how to support one another during this difficult period.