Erectile dysfunction (ED), commonly known as impotence is the consistent inability to keep a firm erection sufficient for sexual intercourse. Experiencing an occasional ED should not be a call for concern either is it uncommon. However, when this becomes reoccurring, chances are it may be erectile dysfunction which can be a sign of an underlying health condition that needs treatment and a possible risk factor for heart disease. This form of impotence is slightly different from other challenges that interfere with sexual intercourse, such as disease, injury, side effects of drugs, or a disorder that impairs the nerve supply or the blood flow to the penis. Approximately, 1 in 5 men report experiencing erectile dysfunction and this number increases with age.
What are the symptoms of ED?
There’s the possibility you may have erectile dysfunction if you regularly experience the following:
- Trouble getting a firm erection
- Difficulty maintaining a rigid erection during sexual intercourse; an erection that is too brief.
- Reduced or complete lack of interest in sex
- Failure to attain erections
Other sexual disorders related to ED include:
- Premature ejaculation
- Delayed ejaculation
- Anorgasmia, which is the inability to achieve orgasm after multiple ample stimulations.
Causes Of ED
There is a direct correlation between ED and age. The effects of erectile dysfunction increase from 5% to 15% as age increases from 40 to 70 years. However, this is not to say growing older jeopardizes a man’s sex life because ED can be treated at any age.
Male sexual arousal is a compound process that involves the brain, hormones, emotions, nerves, muscles and blood vessels. Erectile dysfunction can result from a problem with any of these factors. Sometimes it can be a combination of physical and psychological. It should be noted that the resulting anxiety of having this condition only worsens its effects.
Physical causes of erectile dysfunction
Common causes include:
- Heart disease
- Clogged blood vessels or hardened arteries (atherosclerosis)
- High cholesterol
- High blood pressure (hypertension)
- Diabetes, usually as a result of high blood sugar level. Men who have diabetes are two to three times more liable to have erectile dysfunction than men who do not have diabetes.
- Obesity, being overweight and getting too little exercise also contribute to ED
- Metabolic syndrome — a condition involving increased blood pressure, high insulin levels, body fat around the waist and high cholesterol
- Parkinson’s disease
- Multiple sclerosis
- Brain or spinal-cord injuries
- Hypogonadism (which leads to lower testosterone levels)
- Certain prescription medications such as antidepressants, pain medicine and medicine for high blood pressure
- Tobacco and excessive alcohol use
- Peyronie’s disease — development of scar tissue inside the penis
- Alcoholism and other forms of substance abuse
- Sleep disorders
- Stress, anxiety, or depression
- Treatments for prostate cancer or enlarged prostate
- Injuries that affect the pelvic area or spinal cord
- Surgery, including treatments for prostate cancer, bladder cancer, or BPH can often time damage nerves and blood vessels near the penis. In extreme cases, the nerve damage can be permanent
Sometimes imbalance hormones can cause erectile dysfunction. Also, psychological factors can trigger erectile dysfunction such as:
- Intense anxiety about sex, primarily caused by a previous bad experience or an episode of impotence.
- Stressful situations, feeling stressed as a result of work or family situations.
- Relationship problems with your sex partner.
- Feeling depressed and anxious.
- Low self-esteem and extreme self-consciousness.
You should talk to a specialist if you have had any of these symptoms, for a prolonged period of about two or more months.
Treating Erectile Dysfunction
Many men with ED are able to recover their sexual prowess by making certain lifestyle changes, such as;
- Avoiding alcohol and substance abuse.
- Losing weight and maintaining a healthy weight.
- Keeping blood sugar level low.
- Reduce stress levels.
- Maintain a low blood pressure.
- Eating healthier, balanced meals.
Most commonly prescribes medication that may help manage ED symptoms include:
- Alprostadil (Caverject)
- Sildenafil (Viagra)
- Tadalafil (Cialis)
- Testosterone (Androderm)
- Vardenafil (Levitra)
Taking any of these medications without a prescription is not advisable. It’s important to get proper diagnosis and prescription to avoid adverse side effects.
Surgery can restore blood flow If ED is caused by a blockage in an artery leading to the penis. This procedure is not recommended for older men with widespread narrowing of the arteries but younger men can benefit from this if the blockage is caused by an injury to the crotch or pelvis.
Closely related to surgery is a penile implant that can restore sexual function. A pump-up implant uses two cylinders that are surgically placed inside the penis. In order to get an erection, the man uses a pump to fill the cylinders with pressurized fluid. Another option is a flexible implant, which strengthens erections with surgically implanted rods.
Even when ED has a known physical cause, psychotherapy can be beneficial even when ED isn’t caused by psychological factors. A therapy session can assist the man and his partner with techniques to reduce performance anxiety and improve intimacy. It can also help couples adjust to the changes caused by surgeries and implants.
Discussing ED with our partner can go a long way in subsidizing the natural inclination to feel angry or embarrassed. This can deepen intimacy and reassure your partner that you haven’t lost interest.
While pills for ED are convenient, you can opt for stronger erections by injecting medication directly into the penis. Drugs approved for this purpose work by widening the blood vessels, triggering the penis to become enlarged with blood. Another option is inserting a medicated pellet into the urethra, which can trigger an erection within 10 minutes.
Using Herbal Supplements
There’s ample research that shows that certain herbs offer variable degrees of success for ED. These herbs include:
- Panax ginseng
- Mondia whitei