Erectile dysfunction(ED), also known as impotence, is a common type of male sexual dysfunction. It is when a man has trouble getting or keeping an erection. ED becomes more common as you get older, but it’s not a natural part of aging.

Erectile dysfunction different from other health conditions that interfere with male sexual function, such as lack of sexual desire(decreased libido) and problems with ejaculation release of the fluid from the penis(ejaculatory dysfunction) and orgasm(orgasmic dysfunction),and penile curvature(Peyronie’s disease), although these problems may also be present. ED affects about 50% of men age 40 and over.

Risk factors of erectile dysfunction

The common risk factors for erectile dysfunction include the following:

. Advanced age

. Cardiovascular disease

. Hypertension

. Diabetes mellitus

. High cholesterol

. Cigarette smoking

. Recreational drug use

. Depression or other psychiatric disorders

. Pelvic surgery, including radical prostatectomy and colorectal surgery

. Pelvic radiation, such as for prostate cancer and some colorectal cancers.

. Trauma to the pelvis(pelvic fracture), penis(penile fracture), and perineum

Causes of erectile dysfunction

The ability to achieve and sustain erections requires the following:

. A healthy nervous system that conducts nerve impulses in the brain, spinal column, and penis

. Healthy arteries in and near the corpora cavernosa that when stimulated can bring increased blood flow into the penis

. Healthy muscles and fibrous tissues with the corpora cavernosa, which can distend to allow the penis to fill with blood

. Adequate levels of nitric oxide in the penis

. Normal-functioning tunica albuginea that allows for compression of the veins

. Appropriate psychosocial interactions

Erectile dysfunction can occur if one or more of these requirements are not met. The following are causes of erectile dysfunction, and many men have more than one potential cause:

. Aging

. Diabetes

. Atherosclerosis

. Stress, anxiety, or depression

. Alcohol and tobacco use

. Some prescription medications, such as antidepressants, pain medicine and medicine for high blood pressure

. Fatigue

. Brain or spinal-cord injuries

. Hypogonadism(which leads to lower testosterone levels)

. Multiple sclerosis

. Parkinson’s disease

. Radiation therapy to the testicles

. Stroke

. Some types of prostate or bladder surgery

Symptoms of erectile dysfunction

Signs and symptoms of ED may include the following:

. Penile erection occurs, but there difficulties maintaining an erection for completion of sexual activities

. Penile erection that does not allow engaging in sexual activities

. There is an inability to obtain a penile erection

Diagnosis of erectile dysfunction

A diagnosis of erectile dysfunction is made in men who complain of troubles having or maintaining an erection. It is important as you talk with your doctor that you be thorough about the troubles you are experiencing.

The diagnosis is commonly made with the following:

. Patient health history: details of when your troubles started, how bothersome your erectile dysfunction is, how severe it is, and discuss all your medical conditions along with all prescribed and non-prescribed medications you are taking.

. Physical examination: it can reveal clues for physical causes of ED. A genital examination is part of the evaluation of ED.

. Laboratory tests: the lab testing obtained for the evaluation of erectile dysfunction may vary with the information obtained on the health history, physical examination, and recent lab testing.

. Imaging tests: they are not routinely obtained in the evaluation of ED, however an ultrasound with doppler imaging can provide additional information about blood flow of the penis.

. Nocturnal penile tumescence test can help you and your doctor understand if the erectile dysfunction is due to psychological or physical causes.

. Psychosocial examination: you may be asked questions to help determine stressor, events and relationship issues that may be causing your erectile troubles.

Treatment of erectile dysfunction

Treatment for ED will depend on the underlying cause. You may also need to use a combination of treatments, including medication, lifestyle changes, or therapy.

Your doctor may prescribe medication to help manage your symptoms of ED. You may need to try several medications before you find one that works for you.

For a treatment that is suited to your symptoms, underlying causes and existing conditions, it is highly recommended that you talk to you doctor.


The above article serves only as reference. Kindly refer to your primary care provider for complete consultation and treatment.

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