What Is Erectile Dysfunction (ED)?
Erectile dysfunction (ED) is the inability to get or sustain an erection firm enough to engage in sexual intercourse. It is also sometimes referred to as impotence. Most men have problems with erections from time to time, but when this happens more than half of the time, then ED is present. Erectile dysfunction can occur when health problems limit blood flow or damage nerves in the penis. Although a man’s risk increases with age, erectile dysfunction is not an inevitable consequence of getting older. In general, the healthier a man is, the better his sexual function.
What causes erectile dysfunction?
Male sexual arousal is a complex process that involves the brain, hormones, emotions, nerves, muscles and blood vessels. Erectile dysfunction can result from a problem with any of these. Likewise, stress and mental health concerns can cause or worsen erectile dysfunction. Sometimes a combination of both physical and psychological issues can cause erectile dysfunction. For example, a minor physical condition that slows your sexual response might cause anxiety about maintaining an erection. The resulting anxiety can lead to or worsen erectile dysfunction.
Physical causes for ED
- Age over 50
- High blood sugar (diabetes)
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Cardiovascular disease
- Drug or alcohol abuse
- Lack of exercise
Psychological causes for ED
- Relationship issues
Symptoms Of Erectile Dysfunction
Men who cannot get or maintain an erection that lasts long enough or is rigid enough to complete sexual intercourse is considered to have erectile dysfunction. Symptoms of erectile dysfunction include:
- Difficulty getting an erection
- Difficulty maintaining an erection
- Reduced sexual desire
Diagnosis For Erectile Dysfunction
For many men, a physical exam and answering questions (medical history) are all that is required for a doctor to diagnose erectile dysfunction and recommend treatment. If you have chronic health conditions or your doctor suspects that an underlying condition may be involved, you might need further tests or a consultation with a specialist.
Treatment For Erectile Dysfunction
Drug therapy with PDE5 inhibitors is the main treatment for erectile dysfunction. Sildenafil (Viagra), vardenafil (Levitra), and tadalafil (Cialis) are the three PDE5 inhibitor drugs that are approved for the treatment of erectile dysfunction. In general, if a man is a candidate for PDE5 inhibitor therapy and is satisfied with the results, no further treatment is necessary. PDE5 inhibitors aren’t safe or effective for all men. Other options for treatment include:
- Medications inserted or injected into the penis
- Vacuum devices
- Surgery (limited to rare cases)
Prognosis (Outlook) For Erectile Dysfunction
In general, the outlook for men with impotence is excellent. Most cases of impotence have medical causes that cannot be cured. Still, many treatment options will help restore sexual function. Several causes of impotence can be cured. These include impotence caused by psychological problems, hormonal disorders and traumatic injury to the penile arteries.