Erectile Dysfunction (ED) affects over 30 million men in the US and 150 million worldwide. Many factors – often in combination – can cause it.
It can be caused by a medical condition like diabetes, nerve or cardiovascular disease, a side effect of some medications, or psychological issues such as stress and relationship problems. Treatments can range from penile implants to medication.
Erectile Dysfunction can be caused by medical, psychological 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 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 occurs as a result of impulses from the brain and genital nerves. ED can be caused if something blocks these signals or stops blood flow in the penis. ED can be caused by medical problems such as diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure. Surgery and cancer treatments can also affect the ability of a man to maintain and get an erection.
Men may be embarrassed about talking to their doctor, but it is important to get a diagnosis to 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.
Erectile dysfunction can disrupt relationships in men, as well as their physical health. 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 will confirm a diagnosis after examining the penis of the patient, taking a blood sample, and taking a urine test.
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.
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. 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 feelings can include low sex motivation (loss libido), depression, anxiety or stress from past ED experiences or side effects. Having good communication with your sexual partner can help 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 for erectile dysfunction depends on the cause. Diabetes and heart disease can be managed, as well as taking medications to increase blood flow in the penis. Treatment for pelvic cancer or BPH may also affect sexual function. Sometimes surgery for prostate or bladder problems can damage nerves that control an erection. The problem usually gets better with time.
Some medications (especially thiazides and antidepressants) can cause ED. Talk to your doctor before changing your medication.
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. Psychotherapy or counseling may be beneficial for those who have psychological causes of ED. Some insurance plans will cover these services. You can also pay privately to see a counsellor. You may want to go to counseling with your partner. It can teach you how to support one another during this difficult period.