Erectile dysfunction, or ED, is the inability to achieve or sustain an erection suitable for sexual intercourse. Causes include medications, chronic illnesses, poor blood flow to the penis, drinking too much alcohol, or being too tired. Erectile dysfunction (ED) is the inability to get or keep an erection firm enough to have sexual intercourse. Occasional ED isn’t uncommon. Many men experience it during times of stress. Frequent ED can be a sign of health problems that need treatment. It can also be a sign of emotional or relationship difficulties that may need to be addressed by a professional.
What causes an erection?
An erection is the result of increased blood flow into your penis. Blood flow is usually stimulated by either sexual thoughts or direct contact with your penis.
When a man becomes sexually excited, muscles in their 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.
What Can Cause Erectile Dysfunction?
A lot goes into achieving an erection. When you are turned on, nerves fire in your brain. Blood then flows into your penis. If all goes well, you’re ready for sex.
Sometimes, all does not go well. Occasional problems aren’t anything that need treatment. If issues happen more often, you may have erectile dysfunction or ED.
There are many possible causes for ED, and they can include both emotional and physical disorders. Some common causes are:
• Cardiovascular disease : These can slow the flow of blood, making your body’s preparation for sex difficult. Narrowed or blocked arteries, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol are among the most common causes of ED.
• Diabetes : Nerves and blood vessels that aid in getting you ready for sex are damaged by this. Your chances of ED can double if your diabetes is not well-controlled
• Damage from cancer or surgery : Nerves and tissue needed for an erection can be affected during procedures to treat prostate and bladder cancer. The problem often clears up, but it may take months. In some cases, the damage is permanent. If it is, there are treatments available to help you be ready for sex.• Injuries: If you hurt your pelvis, bladder, spinal cord, or penis — and you require surgery — you may get ED.
• obesity or being overweight
• increased age
• relationship problems
• Prescription drugs: There are more than 200 prescription drugs that can cause erectile dysfunction. Speak with your doctor if you think one of your medications may be causing this in you.
• Alcohol /smoking: Tobacco, alcohol, or drug use: All three can damage your blood vessels. If you have artery problems, smoking will make ED much more likely.
ED can be caused by only one of these factors or several. That’s why it’s important to work with your doctor so that they can rule out or treat any underlying medical conditions.
What are the symptoms of ED?
You may have erectile dysfunction if you regularly have:
• trouble getting an erection
• difficulty maintaining an erection during sexual activities
• reduced interest in sex
Other sexual disorders related to ED include:
• premature ejaculation
• delayed ejaculation
• anorgasmia, which is the inability to achieve orgasm after ample stimulation
You should talk to your doctor if you have any of these symptoms, especially if they’ve lasted for two or more months. Your doctor can determine if your sexual know how is ED diagnosed?
Your doctor will ask you questions about your symptoms and health history. They may do tests to determine if your symptoms are caused by an underlying condition. You should expect a physical exam where your doctor will listen to your heart and lungs check your blood pressure, and examine your testicles and penis. They may also recommend a rectal exam to check your prostate. Additionally, you may need blood or urine tests to rule out other conditions.
Nocturnal penile tumescence (NPT) test
An NPT test is done using a portable, battery-powered device that you wear on your thigh while you’re sleeping. The device evaluates the quality of nocturnal erections and stores the data, which your doctor can later access. Your doctor can use this data to better understand your penis function and ED.
Nocturnal erections are erections that occur while you’re sleeping, and they’re a normal part of a healthily functioning penis.
Order is caused by an underlying condition that requires treatment.
What treatments are available?
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. These medications can have side effects. If you’re experiencing unpleasant side effects, talk to your doctor. They may be able to recommend a different medication. For some men, natural remedies may help treat ED. Talk to your doctor before trying a new supplement or herb.
You should also use caution when buying supplements and herbs. Many aren’t regulated, which means they may contain additional ingredients not listed on the labels. Ask your doctor to recommend reputable brands and avoid purchasing supplements online.
Psychological factors are a common cause of ED, including:
• post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
If you’re experiencing psychological ED, you may benefit from talk therapy. Therapy can help you manage your mental health. You’ll likely work with your therapist over several sessions, and your therapist will address things like major stress or anxiety factors, feelings around sex, or subconscious conflicts that could be affecting your sexual well-being.
Lifestyle changes and diet
Healthy lifestyle habits may prevent ED, and in some situations reverse the condition:
• Exercise regularly.
• Maintain a low blood pressure.
• Eat a balanced, nutritious diet.
• Maintain a healthy weight.
• Avoid alcohol and cigarettes.
• Reduce your stress.
ED is often related to problems with your blood flow, so maintaining your blood vessel health through exercise and a healthy diet may help reduce your risk for ED.
By: Amma Adutwumwaa (Medical Student)
Vitebsk State Medical University,Belarus