A Visual Guide to Erectile Dysfunction
What is Erectile Dysfunction?
Erectile dysfunction (ED) occurs when a man is unable to produce or maintain erection. ED may also lead to inability to participate in sexual intercourse. If appropriate treatment is not sought on time, erectile dysfunction can become difficult to handle. As per Massachusetts Male Aging Study on sexual dysfunction, men aged as early as 40 can develop the problem.
Symptoms of ED
inability to achieve erections
erections that are too soft for sexual intercourse
erections that last only briefly
men who cannot get or maintain an erection (75% of the time that they attempt sex) are considered to have erectile dysfunction.
Causes of ED
Conditions that may cause ED include diabetes, cardiovascular disease, atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), kidney disease and multiple sclerosis. These illnesses can impair blood flow or nerve impulses throughout the body. Psychological reasons leading to inability to enjoy intercourse also lead to ED.
Lifestyle causes of ED
Lifestyle choices like smoking, excessive drinking, and drug abuse that impair blood circulation can contribute to ED. Smokers have almost twice the risks of ED compared with nonsmokers. Studies indicate that men who exercise regularly have a lower risk of ED.
Who Gets ED?
Sexual dysfunction and ED become more common with age. Studies suggest that about 40% of men experience some degree of ED at age 40 compared with 70% of men at age 70. ED becomes more common as men age however it can be treated at any age.
To diagnose ED, the doctor will conduct a complete physical exam to uncover signs such as poor circulation or nerve trouble. He will also look for abnormalities of the genital area that could cause problems with erections. Several lab tests can help diagnose male sexual problems. Measuring testosterone levels can determine whether there is a hormonal imbalance, which is often linked to decreased desire. Blood cell counts, cholesterol levels, and liver function tests can reveal medical conditions that may account for ED.
Many men with ED are able to improve sexual function by making a few lifestyle changes. Giving up smoking, losing weight, and exercising more often can help by improving blood flow.
Drugs like Viagra, Cialis, Levitra, Staxyn, and Stendra, all work by improving blood flow to the penis during arousal. Such drugs help against ED however these must be taken only if advised by the doctor. Other options are injections, pumps, surgeries and implants. Psychotherapy can also help in cases where reasons are more psychological than physical.
Reducing the Risk
Keep your diabetes under control
Exercise and maintain a healthy weight
Stop smoking and avoid alcohol and substance abuse
Keep yourself mentally happy and healthy