Erectile dysfunction (ED) is a man’s inability to achieve or maintain an erection suitable for satisfactory sex. Normally, when a man is sexually aroused, the penis fills with blood after a series of nerves send signals from the brain. A man that can’t achieve this important feat may be said to be impotent.
Problems with erections tend to become more frequent as a man gets older. Many people associate erectile dysfunction (ED) with older men, but it’s something younger men should take seriously, too. Several medical conditions, habits, psychological factors have been implicated. Listed below are conditions that can cause this problem
- Spinal cord injury
- High cholesterol
- Relationship problems
- Performance anxiety
- Past sexual trauma
- Stress, depression, or anxiety
- Medication side effects
- Excessive drug or alcohol use
In clinical practices, the commonest causes are diabetes, hypertensive related diseases and both of these diseases affect the nerve signals and blood supply to the penis respectively. Also, other common causes include stress and chronic fatigue syndrome, when a man feels exhausted in such a way that can’t be reasonably explained. Symptoms may also include muscle and joint pain, headaches, and trouble concentrating or remembering things. Resting and sleep usually doesn’t help.
Also, several medications have been implicated in making this condition worse. Sexual problems, such as decreased libido, orgasm difficulties, erectile dysfunction in men, and vaginal dryness in women, are common side effects of certain medications. The following list, while not exhaustive, gives the most common types of drugs known to have sexual side effects.
• Anti-anxiety drugs
• Antiepileptic drugs
• Blood pressure medications, including diuretics (water pills)
How does erectile dysfunction (ED) affect a man’s self-esteem?
Many men associate erections with their identity. Erections are tied to their masculinity and feelings of self-worth. So when erectile dysfunction (ED) occurs, they may lose confidence in themselves and in their abilities to please their partner. Depression and anxiety are common in men with ED and can affect not only the sexual relationship but social and work activities as well. Partner support can also help men with ED-related self-esteem problems.
How important are partners in the treatment of erectile dysfunction (ED)?
Studies have shown that treatment for erectile dysfunction (ED) is more effective when the patient has a supportive partner.
How can a partner be supportive? Here are some ideas:
- Attend doctor’s appointments with the patient. A partner can provide additional insights and may think of questions that the patient overlooks.
- Help the patient decide on a treatment plan.
- Communicate. Help the man feel comfortable discussing ED, from the physical aspects to the emotional matters.
- Be encouraging and upbeat.
- Understand that overcoming ED takes time. Some men need to try different treatments before they find what works best for them. Patience and a willingness to try other ways of being intimate – aside from intercourse – can take pressure off the man and make him feel like he is still desired.
Working together as a team, both partners can cope more easily with ED treatment and, in turn, strengthen their relationship along with their sex lives.
Men who eat foods high in antioxidants have a lower risk of erectile dysfunction (ED) than those who don’t. Foods like citrus fruits, blueberries, strawberries, apples, pears, cherries, and blackberries. Some teas, coffee, and herbs also have antioxidants in them. Diet should include vegetables, whole grains, and olive oil. Nuts and fish are good additions.
A man’s doctor can help him decide which dietary changes to make. However, men who are having trouble with erections should be sure to mention it. Many factors can contribute to ED and it’s best to have a complete medical checkup.
Here are the risk factors:
Smoking. Research has shown that men who smoke are at higher risk for ED. Often, erection problems are worse for men who smoke heavily and those who have smoked for a long time. Secondhand smoke may also interfere with erections. Smoking can also decrease amounts of nitric oxide, a compound that plays an important role in erections.
Obesity. For some men, obesity is linked to low testosterone, which can interfere with a man’s erections. Obesity also raises a man’s risk for heart disease and diabetes, which are common in men with ED.
High blood pressure (hypertension). High blood pressure is another condition that can cause atherosclerosis and restrict blood flow to the penis. In addition, some medications used to treat hypertension are associated with ED.
Sedentary lifestyle. Exercise is important for good health on so many levels, including erections. It helps keep blood flowing smoothly throughout the body and to the penis. It also helps a man maintain a healthy weight.
As noted above, these risk factors are modifiable. There are things men can do to reduce their impact. Some actions include:
• Quitting smoking.
• Losing weight.
• Eating healthier food.
• Getting more exercise.
Men and women who suspect that a drug is affecting them sexually should first see their doctor. There are several options to consider: Give the medication more time, change the dosage, change the medication and in some cases, switching to an entirely new medication may help or adding another medication.
Any changes in medication should be made under a doctor’s supervision. Patients should not stop taking their medications as prescribed until they have discussed it with a healthcare provider.
What are some of the treatments for ED?
There are many treatment options available:
- Oral medications. Phosphodiesterase-5 inhibitors help increase blood flow to the penis.
- Penile injections. Men can learn to inject medication into the penis. This medication helps blood vessels dilate, allowing more blood for erection.
- Urethral suppositories. These medications are inserted into the urethra at the tip of the penis.
- Penile implants. Implants are surgically placed inside the penis and allow a man to get an erection when he wishes. There are several types of implants, from malleable rods that the man raises and lowers himself to inflatable devices controlled with a pump.
Consult a doctor, specifically an Urologist to help you choose the best option.