What is Erectile Dysfunction?
Erectile Dysfunction is often referred to by its abbreviation, ED. ED is actually the most common that men suffer from when it comes to sex problems, and that they report to their doctor. It is a problem that about 30 million men suffer from.
To put it simply, ED is when a man has trouble getting an erection and keeping it firm enough to have sex with their significant other. That does not mean a man has ED just because he has trouble getting an erection. It is only classified as ED when he has trouble over a long period of time, and it can be easily treated.
Ed can actually be a sign of a much larger problem forming, and that is cardiovascular disease, which is why it is important to have it looked at and treated. Men who have ED are more likely to have a heart attack, a stroke, or some kind of circulatory problem in their legs. Some other things that ED can cause that are more common are low self-esteem, depression, and distress for both parties involved in the sexual act.
What Causes Erectile Dysfunction
There are a lot of different things that can cause ED, both physical and psychological. Some of the most common causes for ED are:
- Over the Age of 50
- High Blood Pressure
- Cardiovascular Disease
- High Cholesterol
- Taking Drugs
- Too Much Drinking
- Not Exercising
The older a man gets, the more likely he is to develop ED, but it is not a guarantee. There are men that stay sexually active and fully functioning up that in their 80s.
Physical Causes of Erectile Dysfunction
If a man does not have the proper blood flow into his penis, he will have trouble getting an erection. This can happen because of hardened arteries, high blood sugar, heart disease, and smoking.
Another problem could be that the penis cannot trap the blood in order to make it harden, and this can happen at any age.
If a man has problems with the nerve signals in his body, it can cause the man's penis to not react. This can happen because of different diseases, surgery in the pelvic area, or an injury to that area.
Diabetes is a common one because it can cause nerve damage in the penis or small vessel disease.
Cancer treatments that involve radiation and the pelvic area are bound to cause some problems with the functionality of the penis. The cancers that are treated and can cause ED are prostate, bladder, or colon-rectal cancer.
Drugs, whether they are prescribed by a doctor, over the counter, or even from the illegal variety, can cause problems getting an erection. If this occurs, it is advised to talk to the doctor who prescribed the medicine or the pharmacist for over the counter.
Psychological Causes of Erectile Dysfunction
No matter what, in order for sex to happen, there needs to be a working connection between the mind and the body. Strain within the relationship can cause a man to develop ED or worsen it if he already had it.
- Rocky Relationship
- Work Stress
- Home Stress
- Social Stress
- Cultural Stress
- Religious Stress
- Overthinking Sexual Performance
Getting Erectile Dysfunction Diagnosed
It is important to get ED diagnosed in order to start treatment as soon as possible because of the other health problems that it can be a sign of. The doctor has some steps that have to be gone through in order to properly diagnose ED. The first step is to ask some questions that are extremely personal. Then there will be a physical exam and some lab tests. A family doctor may refer the person to Urologist to do all of these steps if they are not trained in ED themselves.
History of Health and Erectile Dysfunction
This is the part where the doctor is going to be asking a lot of personal questions. The doctor needs to know about the man's health history and the way they live their life because they can be key factors in them having ED. The drugs they take, if they smoke, how much alcohol they drink are all things that can factor into having ED.
Some of the health related questions to expect are:
- What drugs, both prescription, over the counter, and supplemental, are taken?
- Are any recreational drugs taken?
- Is smoking a part of life?
- How much alcohol is consumed?
- Has there been a recent surgery in the pelvic area?
- Has the pelvic area been exposed to radiation therapy?
- Is there any urinary problems?
- What other health problems are there?
Some of the ED related questions to expect are:
- How long have the symptoms been present?
- Did they appear all at once or over time?
- Is there an erection during the night or in the morning?
- How firm is the erection?
- Is it hard to penetrate?
- Does the erection change during different times, sexual times?
- Is sex drive or arousal lacking?
- Is there complications with orgasming or ejecting?
- Is it hard to impossible to change things to enjoy sex again?
- Is the erection painful?
- Does the erection have a bump or lump?
- Is there a penile curvature?
Then there are the questions that have to deal with stress and emotional health, and these questions are:
- Is stress a common thing?
- Has there been something upsetting happen recently?
- Is anxiety, depression, or any kind of mental health issue a common thing?
- Are there any drugs prescribed for mental health problems?
- Is sex life fulfilling?
- Has there been changes to the fulfillment of sex life?
- How is the relationship with sexual partner?
- Has there been any changes in relationship with sexual partner?
Physicals exams are always important, and this is another occasion where it is important. This examination focuses on the genital region, which means the testicles and penis. If age and risk factors are a problem, then the blood system and heart will be examined as well, which includes the heart, blood pressure, and peripheral pulses. If there is a family history of problems, the doctor may check the prostate as well. None of these tests cause any kind of pain, and most patients do not need a lot of tests done for a diagnosis.
The doctor may ask for blood tests and a urine sample to be taken in order to look for problems that can stem from ED. If treatment for ED does not work, there are some other tests that the doctor may require in order to re-assess for better treatment options. These tests are:
- Blood Tests for Testosterone and Hormone Levels
- Blood Test for Blood Sugar Levels
- Ultrasonography, Penile Doppler, to Test Blood Flow
- Shot in the Penis to Cause an Erection
- Arteriography, CT, or MRI Scans if History of Cancer or Trauma
- Overnight Test for Detecting a Sleep Erection
Treating Erectile Dysfunction
When it comes to treating ED, it all starts with the health of the heart and vascular system. The doctor may recommend changes to improve risk factors that deal with ED.
Some of the things the doctor may ask for in changes in the food habits, working out more, and to stop smoking or drinking alcohol. They may even recommend a change in prescriptions in order to help with erection problems that might be caused by prescriptions.
Another change a doctor may recommend is getting treated for emotional health problems, both prescription wise and counseling wise. These problems include relationship problems, depression, stressors in life, and anxiety stemming from performance in sexual acts.
Below are the treatments that are just for treating ED personally.
Erectile Dysfunction Treatments
There are many non-invasive treatments that tried first before anything invasive is tried. Many of the treatments for ED are safe and work perfectly well. It is always important to know the side effects though before picking which one to use.
The different kinds of treatments for ED are:
- Oral Drugs
- Testosterone Treatment
- Penis Stretchers and Extenders
- Injections in the Penis
- Intraurethral Prescription
- Erection Vacuum Devices
- Implants in the Penis
- Bypass Surgery in the Penile Artery
Drugs Taken Orally
There are several different male enhancement pills that can be used for treating minor ED. These are oral agents that are approved by the Good and Drug Administration in the United States. These pills are:
While there are also some all natural male enhancement pills available with no prescription required. Some of the more popular ones are:
For the best possible results, it is recommended that men use these pills within an hour or two before having sex with their significant other. Now, for these drugs to be used, there has to be normal nerve function within the penis first. The inhibitors help to improve the erectile response by helping the blood flow in the penis properly. It is important to use these drugs only when directed, and seven out of the ten men that use these drugs properly have better erections. These rates are lower for men who suffer from diabetes or are suffering from cancer.It is not recommended to take any of these inhibitors if nitrates are already prescribed for treating a heart condition. Also, it is important to consult a doctor before starting these inhibitors because of the impact they have on a man's health.When there are side effects from taking this prescription, which is not often, they are short term and have a mild impact on the man's life. The effect that can occur from taking these inhibitors are:
- Facial Flushing
- Stuffy Nose
- Muscle Aches
Viagra can also cause a blue-green shading effect on the man's vision that lasts for a short amount of time. In very rare cases, Cialis may cause back pain or cause the back muscles to ache. Most of the side effects that come from these inhibitors are linked to the body tissue, which is because of the effect on the blood flow.
There are very few occasions that involve a low sex drive, and these are caused by low blood levels that are from testosterone. Therapy involving testosterone can help with ED, especially when combined with inhibitors.
Erection Vacuum Device
This device is a plastic tube that slides onto a penis. It creates a very tight seal on the skin, and then a pump that is located at the other end of the device uses low-pressure to vacuum around the penis. This causes it to firm up, and then a small, elastic ring is slid onto the penis to the base of it to prevent the blood from rushing back out. This helps keep it hard for thirty minutes, and when it is used properly, seventy-five out of one hundred men have been successful using this device. Check out our latest reviews on the best penis pumps on the market.
Injections in the Penis
Intracavernosal and Urethra therapies are used when oral drugs do not work, but it has to be approved from a doctor first.
There are also the options of doing injections at home instead of through a doctor, though it is prescribed by the doctor. The doctors usually do the very first shot to not only show how it is done but to make sure there are no side effects. This involves taking alprostadil and injecting it into the side of the penis. Even if the doctor does not do the first injection, they will give a lesson on how to do it. The success rate of getting a proper erection from an injection is only eighty-five percent.
An injection produces an erection that usually lasts for about an hour though sometimes longer. It is advised though to seek medical help if the erection lasts for more then two to four hours. An erection that lasts longer than four hours is known as priapism, and they are very painful to endure. If it is not taken care of immediately, it can lead to permanent penile damage that cannot be fixed.
This involves taking a small medicated pellet of alprostadil and inserting it into the urethra. This means there is no shot needed, but it does not work nearly as well as an injection. This is another thing that should be tested by a doctor first.
One of the most common side effects that come from using this method is a burning sensation in the penis, and medical attention might be needed for a long-lasting erection.
Bypass Surgery in the Penile Artery
Surgery is the one method that is used as the last method because of what all it involves. Surgery is something that has to be taken seriously, and the main surgery method used involves inserting a penile implant. This method is usually turned down for anyone that is older in age because it is not likely to work. Even for healthy males, there can be complications that come from this method.
There are two different types of implants that can be used to help a man with his ED, and these are semi-rigid implants and inflatable implants.
Semi Rigid Implant
This method involves there being two silicone rods implants within the penis that are bendable. This means the penis is always semi-rigid and needs to be bent depending on what needs to be done.
This implant involves having fluid-filled cylinders that are put lengthwise within the penis. There are tubes that join these cylinders to the pump that inflates the penis. The pump is placed within the scrotum, right between the testicles. Once the pump is engaged, the cylinders inflate the penis, which makes it stiff. This method allows for the size and firmness to be changed to meet the needs and wants of the couples. This had no effect on how the man feels when he is orgasming, but it is recommended to use lubricant when this method is used to get the best experience for both.