Erectile dysfunction or ED is a condition that hinders men from getting an erection that is firm enough to allow them have sex. This is sometimes referred to as impotence.
Research shows that a good number of men experience erection problems in the course of their lives. This condition can occur regardless of one’s age. However, it is more prevalent among older men because they tend to have many health problems, which affect their blood supply to the penile region.
The following are five things that you need to know about this medical condition:
- Causes of Erectile Dysfunction
Generally, an erection results from an increase in blood supply to the penis, making it larger and firmer. Blood vessels, hormones, muscles and nerves work together to ensure that you have an erection. Therefore, an erectile dysfunction may result from a number of causes. Any condition that affects blood vessel, nerves, hormones or muscles found in the penile region can lead to impotence. The causes of this condition can also be psychological.
The physical causes of erectile dysfunction include high blood pressure, diabetes, clogged arteries, blood vessel diseases, chronic kidney diseases, and multiple sclerosis. Prostate cancer treatments such as surgery, hormonal treatments and chemotherapy can also cause impotence. Low testosterone levels in the body of a man is also one of the risk factors of ED. Injuries to body organs such the spinal cord, bladder, pelvis, penis and prostate also leads to erectile dysfunction. Individuals who are affected by Peyronie’s can similarly end up becoming impotent.
The mental causes of this condition include depression, fear of dysfunction, guilt, low self-esteem, stress and worry. It has been found out that mental problems often worsen erectile dysfunction that was originally caused by physical issues.
Unhealthy lifestyle choices including smoking, overconsumption of alcohol, obesity and lack of physical exercise may also cause ED. This highlights why you need to consider lifestyle changes to keep the condition at bay.
- Who Is Affected by ED?
According to statistics, the condition affects men regardless of their race. Generally, men who are older have a higher risk of being affected by erectile dysfunction. To bring it into perspective, the condition affects nearly 12 percent of those who are younger than 60 years. Up to 22 percent of those who are aged between 60 and 69 years suffer from this condition. 30 percent of those who are aged over 70 years are affected. These statistics clearly show that ED mostly affects older men. The rate is much higher among men who have one or more of the risk factors for erectile dysfunction.
Diagnosis is a major challenge as far as treating the condition is concerned. Not many men have the willingness to talk about their sexual problems, something that acts as a major stumbling block for the diagnostic process.
Diagnosing ED involves establishing a patient’s sexual and medical history, determining his mental health, physical examination, and a blood test. Thereafter, he will be subjected to a nighttime erection test before an injection test is carried out to determine the extent of the dysfunction.
Establishing the sexual and medical history of a patient involves asking general and specific questions about a patient’s erection problems. The sexual relationship that he has with his sexual partner will similarly be determined. This will help the physician to understand the root problem of the condition. Mental health diagnosis involves asking questions about a patient’s mental health. This is because the mental condition of a patient is a major risk factor.
Physical examination is conducted to determine whether the dysfunction is caused by physical disorders. This often involves examining the penis, testes, taking a patient’s blood pressure, and checking whether there are any problems with his blood flow. Blood tests involve taking a blood sample for examination to establish whether the condition is caused by clogged blood vessels, diabetes, low testosterone levels and other medical disorders. Injection tests involve injecting medication into a patient’s penile region to induce an erection. If the erection does not last, the patient possibly has a problem with the flow of blood.
- Treatments for Erectile Dysfunction
Doctors normally offer different treatments depending on the extent of the disorder. Treatment often involves rectifying the most common symptoms that are associated with erectile dysfunction. Most physicians treat ED by treating the causal factors of the condition. This may include lifestyle changes and change of medication used in the treatment of other health complications. Counselling may also be used for individuals who have anxiety and other mental health issues.
Men suffering from erectile dysfunction are often advised to institute lifestyle changes. This may involve quitting detrimental habits such as cigarette smoking and excessive alcohol consumption.
At times, medications may be recommended to patients to help them overcome the condition. These medications can be swallowed, or inserted directly into the penis. Sildenafil, Vardenafil, Tadalafil, and Avanafil are some of the most common medications prescribed by physicians. They work by boosting blood supply to the penis.
Vacuum devices have been advanced to help patients attain an erection. These vacuum tubes are often used to increase blood supply, thus making the penis larger and firmer. Surgery is also an option, more so among men who have extensive ED. Surgery may involve using implanted devices to increase the rigidity of the penis during sexual encounters.
- Preventing Erectile Dysfunction
The easiest way of preventing the condition is choosing to live a healthy life. A good diet also helps in preventing the condition. Physical activities are equally important because they increase the flow of blood to vital body organs including the penis.
Generally, urologists recommend that men increase the intake of whole grain foods, vegetables and fruits because these foods have a high nutritional value. Low fat food and lean meat should similarly be incorporated in a man’s diet. Habits such as smoking and using illegal drugs should be totally avoided.
Those who are affected by erectile dysfunction often wonder whether the condition is permanent or not. The first hurdle that patients need to overcome is finding the courage to share their plight with their physicians and partners. This will hasten the process of unraveling the cause and thereafter, finding the necessary treatment.