Erectile dysfunction is a sexual problem in which a male is unable to achieve or sustain an erection for sufficient period of time. This often leads to failure to participate in sexual activities. To get the problem treated, it is important that you understand what this disease is and why it happens.
Erectile Dysfunction: Causes and Treatment
Erectile dysfunction is a condition in which it is hard for men to get an erection. Most of the time, the erection is so flaccid that it is insufficient to continue a sexual intercourse. Commonly known as impotence, this condition is said to affect males all over the world.
Occasional erectile dysfunction is not rare. A large proportion of men experience it under stress. If it begins happening more frequently, it must be considered as a sign of deteriorating health and must be given immediate medical attention. It sometimes may also portray as a sign of complexities in relationships that require the help of a professional.
It is, however, to be remembered that erectile dysfunction is not the only form of male sexual disorders. Other dysfunctions of such type include the absence of ejaculation, premature ejaculation and lack of libido.
Normal Physiology of Erection
An erection can be regarded as a “neurovascular” event which means that it requires proper functioning of veins, arteries, and nerves. The main mechanism through which an erection is achieved involves different factors such as central nervous system, peripheral nervous system, and various psychological, physiological and local factors. Other reasons that may influence it include the blood flow and hormonal levels.
Erection can occur as a result of different types of stimuli including smell, touch, visual and auditory stimuli. As soon as the stimuli are perceived by your body, they trigger certain pathways in the brain. The information then travels from the brain to specified nerve centers present at the basal level of the spine.
Certain neurotransmitters are released by your brain in response to specific stimuli which permit the nerves to send a signal to your vascular system. Upon stimulated, your penile vascular system increases its flow of blood towards the penis. The increase of blood flow dilates the arteries and causes the penis to expand.
As the stimulus causing erection is removed, the blood flow and pressure in the penis are reduced, and the penis regains its flaccid shape.
What Causes ED?
Several reasons can account for erectile dysfunction in males. Some of the most common reasons for this sexual problem include:
- Prostate surgery
- Multiple sclerosis
- Injury to the spinal cord
- Prescription medications
Diabetes accounts for an important reason that eventually leads to erectile dysfunction in men. Failure to keep your blood sugar level under control can reduce your ability to engage in sexual activities. Therefore, it is important that you consult a relevant doctor and get the problem under control as soon as possible.
In some cases, your body is suffering from a hormonal imbalance and this is what leads to the diminished ability of the penis to hold erections. It is up to your doctor to decide if you need to go through some tests for measuring hormonal levels. In other cases, using some specific medications can also induce erectile problems in males. Lifestyle habits like too much smoking or binge drinking can also lead to loss of erectile function.
If you are going through some relationship problems with your partner, your chances of getting ED can increase to several folds. There are also many other psychological problems that can be associated with this sexual disorder. Sometimes, development of certain feelings may trigger loss of erectile function. Such feelings normally include getting stressed out due to work or any personal reason, or feeling nervous about getting into a sexual intercourse. Feeling depressed or troubled in your sexual relationship may also affect your performance in the bedroom. Sometimes, you are too self-conscious or you think that your sexual partner would react adversely to you. Such thoughts also lead to a loss of erection.
How is ED Diagnosed?
It is quite easy to diagnose erectile dysfunction. You can even diagnose it on your own but it is more suitable to contact a doctor for this purpose. This is to check any other health problems that might be causing erectile dysfunction in you.
The process of diagnosing ED by a medical practitioner is also quite simple. The procedure usually starts off with a series of questions in which the doctor inquires about the symptoms you are experiencing along with your general health history. This is followed by a physical exam in which the doctor checks your blood pressure and working of organs such as lungs, heart and genitals including the penis and testicles. Depending on the situation, he may suggest you for a rectal examination in order to check the prostate gland. Moreover, it is normal to investigate blood and urine samples to rule out other problems.
Treatment & Management of Erectile Dysfunction (ED)
Treatment options available for patients of ED differ according to the nature and severity of the disease. In some cases, all that a patient requires is a counseling session to manage his stress or other problems in relationships. In other cases, oral medicines or other surgical procedures may be required.
Psychological factors such as anxiety, stress, and depression are among the most common reasons for erectile dysfunction. If you are experiencing ED due to psychological issues, it is important to consider talk therapy. Such type of therapy will improve your mental health. A therapist will address the basic problems causing ED and talk you out of it by conducting a number of sessions.
According to the guidelines given by American Urological Association (AUA), the most effective oral drugs used for the treatment of erectile dysfunction include phosphodiesterase type 5 inhibitors. The most commonly used agents include Sildenafil, Tadalafil, Avanafil, and Vardenafil. In patients who are refractory to these agents, an extra injection of PGE1 is also given to make the treatment more effective.
Hormone replacement therapy is suggested to the males whose ED problems are due to hypogonadism or general hormonal imbalance. This treatment is applicable when all other therapies have failed. Hormone replacement therapy may involve the usage of oral agents, transdermal preparations or injectable gels.
Depending upon your condition, the doctor may also suggest intracavernosal injections. It is an effective form of treatment as long as the penile vasculature is healthy. This therapy requires the use of certain agents like Phentolamine, Papaverine or Alprostadil.
Can You Prevent Erectile Dysfunction?
Erectile dysfunction can certainly be prevented by making small changes in your lifestyle. You must keep a check on your smoking and drinking levels. Exercising on a daily basis can also reduce your chances of acquiring ED. Always keep your blood pressure and sugar level under control to avoid diabetes-related ED. Lastly, work on your relationship and try to solve all the matters that are causing you emotional stress.
Suffering from erectile dysfunction is stressful and embarrassing for most of the people. However, remember that it is absolutely normal and is medically treatable. All you need to do is to go to a doctor and follow his instructions and you will observe your sexual life restoring in no time.