Erectile dysfunction (ED) is hardly a favorite topic of discussion for most men, but it is a quite common problem that we should be able to talk about. Over 30 million men in the United States experience some level of difficulty attaining or keeping an erection, and while this issue is commonly associated with age, it is not a natural or normal part of getting older. ED can be sensitive or embarrassing for some, but there is often a root issue that can be treated.
In simple terms, erectile dysfunction is the inability to get or keep an erection that is firm enough for sexual activity. In some cases, people with ED may be able to achieve an erection on some but not all occasions or they may get an erection that does not last long enough for satisfying sexual intercourse. Depending on the cause, this can be a temporary or long-term issue.
Struggling to achieve or maintain an erection can be caused by a variety of factors. ED is a common side effect of many types of medication, and can also be caused in the short term by overconsumption of alcohol. Physical disorders which affect blood flow to the penis are also a frequent culprit. There is often also a mental and emotional component to ED, and you may be more disposed to erectile issues if you are dealing with depression or high levels of stress or anxiety.
Erectile dysfunction causes you to have a more difficult time getting an erection that allows you to have satisfying sex. You may also have a decreased overall libido and compounding feelings of embarrassment or anxiety surrounding sexual activity.
Some of the primary risk factors include:
Your provider will review your symptoms and medical history, and may perform a physical exam. Additional lab tests for indicators such as testosterone levels may also be performed.
Treating underlying conditions that cause or worsen ED is very important. If you have a condition such as diabetes or hypertension you should make sure that these are well managed. Healthy diet and regular exercise can help reduce your risk of erectile dysfunctions, as can quitting smoking and reducing alcohol intake.
Erectile dysfunction can have a negative long-term impact on your sex life, which may hurt relationships and contribute to feelings of stress and depression. Among other things, this strain can be more significant if you and your partner are trying to get pregnant.
Diet and exercise can be important factors in sexual function, and you should try to eat healthily and avoid a sedentary lifestyle. In many cases, oral treatments such as PDE5 inhibitors can be very effective. If you have low T, testosterone replacement treatment may be given. Other treatments that can be used include pumps and penile implant surgery.