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Erectile Dysfunction or Impotence
Erectile dysfunction (ED) is a condition also referred to as impotence. ED is a condition in which a man cannot get or maintain an erection in his penis. People who suffer from this condition may only get a partial erection. The partial erection is not hard enough for proper sexual intercourse. They can also experience no swelling in the penis at all as well. Thus, both scenarios may adversely affect one’s sex life and ability to bear children. There are two main causes of ED. The most common treatment is to take a pill that aids erection. Take this pill before having sexual intercourse. Your doctor may suggest some changes in lifestyle as well. This is to decrease the side effects of the pill and reduce the risk of heart disease.
Causes of ED
Causes of ED: Physical health issues
Nearly 80% of the time, ED is due to physical health issues such as:
- Blood flow to the penis may not be enough to cause an erection. This is usually the case in men over 40 years of age. That is to say, the arteries that carry blood to the penis may become narrow. As a result, lowering blood flow. The risk of narrowing arteries increases when men get older or smoke. Additionally, it increases with high levels of cholesterol and high blood pressure as well.
- Other medical conditions may affect getting an erection. Conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, history of stroke or multiple sclerosis (MS).
- In addition, people with high blood sugar may find it harder to get an erection. Diabetes can cause narrowing of blood vessels.
- Hormonal issues. Such as low levels of testosterone produced by the testicles. While this is rare, a severe head injury can affect pituitary gland function. As a result, this lowers stimulation to the testicle to produce the hormone. Reduced libido or sex drive or changes in mood may also affect levels of this hormone in the body.
- Any major injury to the spine, a fractured pelvis, or radiotherapy to the saddle area may cause the nerves going to the penis to not function properly.
- Long-distance cycling often causes pressure on the nerves in the saddle area that goes to the penis. Thus, this may cause ED right after the ride.
- Alcohol and drug abuse of medications such as:
- Beta-blockers (such as propranolol, atenolol)
- ‘Water tablets’ (diuretics)
- This is not an exhaustive list of medications that may cause erectile dysfunction as a side effect.
Thus, if ED is due to physical issues, except those that are relative to hormonal problems, the person is likely to have a normal sex drive.
Causes of ED: Mental health (psychological) issues
Treatment of Erectile Dysfunction
A good general physician is able to treat erectile dysfunction. There may be some cases in which they may need to refer to a specialist. Such as in cases where it might be a hormonal problem. Erectile dysfunction should not be a side effect of any medication. The doctors generally prescribe any of the 4 tablets to treat ED. The tablets increase the blood flow to the man’s penis. They affect cGMP, that causes the dilation of the penis when aroused sexually. The tablets are:
- Sildenafil (Viagra®), introduced in 1998
- Tadalafil (Cialis®)
- Vardenafil (Levitra®)
- Avanafil (Stendra®).
Curious About Treatment Options?
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Other effective treatments
Treating an underlying cause
Changing medicines that may cause erectile dysfunction as a side effect
Reducing the consumption of alcohol
Treatment of the hormonal condition
Lifestyle and other advice
Tests for Erectile Dysfunction
Testosterone levels (if you have a low sex drive or suffered a head injury)
Cholesterol levels and lipid panel
Other heart tests, if heart disease is of concern