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Erectile Dysfunction

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 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 medical, psychological or physical factors. It is a common condition that affects a man’s sexual function, which can lead to emotional distress and marital problems. The causes of ED are not fully understood. It is important to address any issues that may be causing the sexual dysfunction, whether they are psychological or medical.

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 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.

Men may feel embarrassed to discuss erectile dysfunction with their doctor. However, a diagnosis will help to treat the problem. Often, a doctor can provide a number of treatments that can improve a person’s sexual functioning and reduce the impact 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 with ED stop engaging in 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 can confirm a diagnosis by examining the patient’s penis, taking a urine sample, and doing 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 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 provider can diagnose ED through questions, a physical examination and ordering lab tests. He may also refer you to a Urologist.

The most common cause of ED is problems with blood flow to the penis. Atherosclerosis is a condition that causes narrowing or clogging in the arteries. This condition can be caused not only by ageing but also by being overweight, smoking or taking 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 also help. It is sometimes helpful for partners to be 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). 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 usually improves with time.

Some medications (especially thiazides and antidepressants) can cause ED. Talk to your doctor before changing your medication.

Making lifestyle changes, such as eating healthy food and getting regular exercise, can reduce symptoms of ED in some people. Reduced stress and anxiety can also 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.