What is E.D.?
Erectile Dysfunction sometimes called ‘impotence’ is the repeated inability to get or keep an erection firm enough for sexual intercourse. Any disorder that causes injury to the nerves or impairs blood flow in the penis has the potential to cause ED. Incidence increases with age but it is not an inevitable part of aging. Erectile Dysfunction is treatable at any age, and more men are seeking help and returning to normal sexual activity.
How Does a Man Get an Erection?
An erection is the result of increased blood flow into the penis. Blood flow is usually stimulated by either sexual thoughts or direct contact with the penis.
When a man becomes sexually excited, muscles in the penis relax. This relaxation allows for increased blood flow through the penile arteries. This blood fills two chambers inside the penis called the corpora cavernosa. As the chambers fill with blood, the penis grows rigid. Erection ends when the muscles contract and the accumulated blood can flow out through the penile veins.
ED can occur because of problems at any stage of the erection process. For example, the penile arteries may be too damaged to open properly and allow blood in.
Potential causes of ED are numerous. They include:
• Cardiovascular disease
• Damage from cancer or surgery
• Relationship problems
• Drug use
• Alcohol use
These factors can work singly or in combination.
How is Erectile Dysfunction Diagnosed?
Medical and sexual histories help define the degree and nature of ED. Your medical history can disclose diseases that lead to ED, while a simple recounting of sexual activity might distinguish among problems with sexual desire, erection, ejaculation, or orgasm.
A physical exam can give clues to systemic problems. For example: if the penis is not sensitive to touching, a problem in the nervous system may be the cause. Abnormal secondary sex characteristics, such as hair pattern can point to hormonal problems which would mean the endocrine system is involved. The examiner might discover a circulatory problem or unusual characteristics of the penis that could suggest the source of the problem.
Several test can help diagnose Erectile Dysfunction. These include blood counts, urinalysis, lipid profile, and measurements of creatine and liver enzymes. Measuring the amount of free testosterone in the blood can yield information about problems with the endocrine system and is indicated especially in patients with decreased sexual desire.
What Are the Symptoms of Erectile Dysfunction?
ED is defined by an inability to get or sustain an erection firm enough for sexual intercourse. It has no other symptoms.
What is the Treatment for Erectile Dysfunction?
For some men, making a few healthy lifestyle changes may solve the problem. Quitting smoking, losing excess weight, and increasing physical activity may help some men regain sexual function. Cutting back on any drugs with harmful side effects is considered next. Psychotherapy and behavior modifications in selected patients has been helpful. In rare cases, surgery involving veins or arteries may be considered. Most Men can be treated with a simple medication that relaxes muscles and increases blood flow to particular areas of the body.