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Erectile Dysfunction (ED)

“Men who have a problem with their sexual performance may be reluctant to talk to their doctor, seeing it as an embarrassing issue. However, modern medicine has revealed numerous medical and psychological explanations for erectile dysfunction, including the possibility of serious underlying conditions that it is important to address.”

What is erectile dysfunction ?

Erectile dysfunction, sometimes called “impotence,” is the repeated inability to get or keep an erection firm enough for sexual intercourse. Erectile dysfunction can occur at any age, but it is more common in men older than 65. ED is treatable at any age, and awareness of this fact has been growing. More men have been seeking help and returning to normal sexual activity because of improved, successful treatments for ED.

How dose an erection occur?

The penis contains two chambers called the corpora cavernosa, which run through out the length of the organ. A spongy tissue fills the chambers. The corpora cavernosa is surrounded by a membrane, called the tunica albuginea. Impulses from the brain and local nerves cause the muscles of the corpora cavernosa to relax, allowing blood to flow in and fill the spaces. The blood creates pressure in the corpora cavernosa, expanding the penis & making it stiff.

Is erectile dysfunction just a part of old age?

Erectile dysfunction doesn’t have to be a part of getting older. It’s true that as you get Older , you may need more stimulation to get an erection. You might also need more time gap between erections. But older men should still be able to get an erection and enjoy sex.

What causes erectile dysfunction?

Erectile dysfunction is due to many causes. Uncontrolled blood pressure and sugar can aggravate this condition. Many commonly prescribe medicines like those used to control BP, anti ulcer medicines, antidepressants, tranquillizers etc can also affect erection. Other causes are listed below:

  • Alcohol and tobacco use
  • Fatigue
  • Brain or spinal-cord injuries
  • Hypogonadism (which leads to lower testosterone levels)
  • Liver or kidney failure
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Radiation therapy to the testicles
  • Stroke
  • Some types of prostate or bladder surgery
  • Diabetes (high blood sugar )
  • Hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • Atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries)

Experts believe that psychological factors such as stress, anxiety, guilt, depression, low self-esteem and fear of sexual failure cause 10 to 20 percent of ED cases. Problem in your relationship with your sexual partner can also cause this you might try therapy to see if improving your relationship helps your sex life. Depending on examination findings, few blood test & urine analysis along with other specialized tests might be ordered.

Therapy will probably be most effective if your sex partner is included. Couples can learn new ways to please one another and to show affection This can reduce your anxiety about having erections.

Feelings that can lead to erectile dysfunction

  • Feeling nervous about sex, perhaps because of a bad experience or because of a previous episode of impotence
  • Feeling stressed including stress from work family situations
  • Being troubled by problems in your relationship with your sex partner
  • Depression
  • Feeling so self-conscious that you can’t enjoy sex
  • Thinking that your partner is reacting negatively to you

How is erectile dysfunction diagnosed?

Your doctor will probably start by asking you some questions and doing a physical examination. Medical and sexual histories help define the degree and nature of ED. A physical examination can give clues to systemic problems.

How is erectile dysfunction treated?

Treatment of erectile dysfunction depends on examination findings. After ruling out chronic ailments or medications that lead to this problem, your doctor may prescribe some medicines .Most physicians suggest that treatment should proceed from least to most invasive. For some men making a few healthy lifestyle changes and removal of precipitating cause may solve the problem. Quitting smoking, losing excess weight and increasing physical activity may help some men regain sexual function. Psychotherapy and behavioral modification in selected and behavioral modification in selected patients are considered next if indicated drugs. Not everyone can use these medicines. Your doctor will help you to decide if you can try them. Sometime in occasional patient surgery may be an option.

What other option do I have?

If the medicines aren’t right for you, you could also try using vacuum devices. Mechanical vacuum devices cause erection by creating a partial vacuum, which Draws blood into the penis, engorging and expanding it. Implanted devices, known as prostheses, can restore erection in many men ED. Surgery to repair arteries can reduce ED caused by obstructions that block the flow of blood.

Points to Remember

  • Erectile dysfunction (ED) is the repeated inability to get or keep an erection
  • Firm enough for sexual intercourse.
  • ED affects large number of men and is more common than thought.
  • ED is due to psychological or organic reasons and is easily treatable.
  • ED is treatable at all ages.
  • Treatments include psychotherapy, drug therapy, vacuum devices and surgery.
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