Among many sexual problems that can occur in men, erectile dysfunction (ED) is the most common one. It can develop in men as early as at 30–40 years old.
Due to the development of oral therapy, the methods of diagnosis and the ways of treating this disease have evolved greatly. Below, you will find information about the causes and ways of treating ED.
What Is Sexual Dysfunction?
Erectile dysfunction is the abnormality of blood circulation in the male organ, which affects sexual relations. A weak erection hinders not only the sexual intercourse itself but also the conception of a child.
Every man sometimes has problems with getting an erection. This is considered normal.
Erectile dysfunction is observed in the following cases:
- A man completely loses the ability to achieve an erection
- A man has an erection for a short period of time, which is not enough to complete sexual intercourse
- A man cannot consistently achieve a strong erection
Approximately 50% of men between 40 and 70 years old experience erectile dysfunction in one form or another. The frequency of this disorder among men is increasing. Nevertheless, erectile dysfunction can be treated at any age.
Causes of the Problem
To achieve an erection, the penis should receive a sufficient amount of blood, while the outflow of blood should be slow. Also, there should be normal functioning of the nerves leading to the male organ as well as the required level of male sex hormone testosterone in the body. In addition, a man should have a strong sexual desire (libido) to get an erection.
In most cases, ED is caused by disorders of the blood vessels or nerves of the male organ. Other possible causes are hormonal disorders, intake of certain medications, as well as psychological problems.
The following reasons are most common:
- Arteries hardening (atherosclerosis) that affects the arteries reaching the penis
- Complications after surgery on the prostate gland
Diseases of Blood Vessels
Atherosclerosis can partially block the flow of blood to the legs. Usually, this also blocks the arteries, through which the blood flows to the penis. This is accompanied by a decrease in the blood flow and leads to ED. Diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and smoking also contribute to the emergence of atherosclerosis and, accordingly, ED.
Sometimes the blood outflows from the veins of the penis too quickly, which reduces the blood pressure in the male organ, thereby hindering the achievement and maintenance of erection.
Prolonged painful erection can damage the tissues of the penis responsible for erection, which leads to ED.
Disturbances of the Nervous System
In the case of damage to the nerves, through which the signals go to the penis, ED may also develop. With diabetes, the nerves reaching the penis can also be affected. Since the nerves of the penis pass near the prostate gland, surgical operations on the prostate often lead to ED.
Less frequent disturbances leading to ED are spinal cord injuries, multiple sclerosis, and stroke. In addition, prolonged compression of the nerves in the buttocks and the genital area, for example, when riding a bicycle over long distances, may lead to temporary ED.
Other Disorders Leading to Sexual Dysfunction
Hormonal disorders (for example, an abnormal decrease in testosterone levels) sometimes lead to a decrease in sexual desire. With Peyronie’s disease (more about this disease: smartcanadianpharmacy.com/peyronies-disease.html), scar tissue forms inside the penis, which leads to a curvature of the male organ and, often, to a painful sensation during erection. Some prescription drugs, smoking, and alcohol can also cause or contribute to ED.
Psychological problems (such as fear of a possible failure or depression) or factors that reduce the vigor of a man (a disease, fatigue, or stress) can cause or contribute to ED. The problem may also arise under the influence of momentary circumstances.
Often, ED results in several factors that occurred simultaneously. For example, a patient suffering a slight ED caused by diabetes or peripheral vascular disease may experience severe ED after starting to take a new drug or experiencing stress.
Types of Disorders
- Organic. It is associated with diseases of blood vessels, the heart, as well as neurological and hormonal problems.
- Psychogenic. In this case, emotions prevail. Negative relations in the family, neglect to the female sex, inadequate intimacy, dissatisfaction after sex, and many other psychological factors can cause an inferiority complex and an underestimation of self-esteem. One of the factors that affect the erectile dysfunction is panic fear of contracting sexually transmitted diseases.
- Iatrogenic. Some medications have a side effect in the form of sexual dysfunction. After taking steroids, antidepressants, drugs for cardiovascular disease and ulcers, one can expect problems with potency. The reasons are the chemical composition of medications. Therefore, when starting the treatment of any somatic diseases be sure to read the instructions to avoid the occurrence of complications of this type.
Diagnosing ED at Home
An episodic occurrence of ED happens frequently but men who consistently fail to achieve or maintain an erection should consult their physician, since ED may be a sign of a serious medical disorder, like atherosclerosis or a neurological disease. In most cases, the problem is treatable.
We recommends for reading: How Atherosclerosis Is Linked To Erectile Dysfunction
Symptoms of the sexual disorder include:
- Lack of an erection at night or after waking up
- Numbness in the buttocks or in the adjacent areas, as well as in the groin area
- Painful jerking of the leg muscles that occurs during physical exertion but quickly passes at rest
When to See a Doctor
Although ED can worsen a man’s quality of life, it is not in itself a dangerous violation. However, it may be a symptom of a serious disease. Since the numbness in the groin or in the leg can be a symptom of spinal cord injury, men who suddenly experience such numbness should immediately consult a doctor. Men who have other worrying changes should also contact a physician for the examination.
Laboratory tests include measuring the testosterone level in the blood. If it is low, a doctor will measure the levels of other hormones. The doctor may also ask to do blood tests for the examination of undiagnosed diabetes, thyroid gland diseases, and lipid metabolism disorders. Usually, these tests give doctors enough information to choose the best treatment.
Sometimes the doctor injects the drug into the penis to stimulate an erection and then uses ultrasound to assess the blood flow in the arteries and veins of the male organ. Occasionally, a doctor may recommend using a special device to monitor (detect and register) an erection at home during sleep. The device is attached to the penis and records night erections. If there are no erections at night, this indicates a problem with the circulation of blood in the penis or problems with its nerve endings. At night, men can have four to six erections.
Methods of Treating Sexual Disorder
Modern methods of treating erectile disorder are very effective. First of all, it is necessary to conduct a thorough diagnosis taking into account individual characteristics of the patient to determine the optimal method of treatment.
If a man suffers from psychogenic ED and the reason is a psychological state or a nervous breakdown, consultations with a specialist usually help get rid of the problem.
Today, there are several methods used to treat the sexual disorder.
- Sex therapy and psychotherapy. It can also be a massage or positive changes in life. In addition to psychogenic erectile dysfunction, this treatment is sometimes used if a patient suffers from an organic ED.
- Intake of medications to increase an erection, such as Viagra or Levitra. This is the so-called first therapy. It can be used to treat all types of dysfunction. Such drugs increase the flow of blood into the male organ. However, when taking such drugs, there may be side effects. People with a weak cardiovascular system are advised to limit the intake of such medications.
- Injection therapy. It is used when the treatment with pills was not effective or when the intake of certain drugs is contraindicated. This method of treatment involves injecting hormonal drugs into the penis itself. Special vasodilator drugs that increase the flow of blood to the male organ are used. This is a very effective method for treating ED. Contraindications for this method include diseases of the penis or its cavernous bodies, as well as the inflammation of the tissues of the male organ.
- The use of vacuum-erectors. This method is used in the treatment of organic ED. The main advantage of the method is no side effects. It provides a 90% result.
- Exercises that help eliminate erectile disorder. The method presumes restoration of the muscles of the lower pelvis. Patients train the muscles of the perineum, forcing them to work when necessary. It is used if there were damages or a long period of inactivity of the muscles as a result of injuries.
- The most radical but also the most effective method of treatment is the falloprosthetics. It is used when other methods are powerless and dysfunction is caused by irreversible causes. With the help of surgical intervention, the prosthesis of the penis takes place.
Methods to Prevent Sexual Disorder
To prevent the emergence and development of ED, first of all, it is necessary to lead a healthy lifestyle.
It is necessary to eat right and, if possible, do sports. You should also quit smoking and minimize alcohol consumption.
If you take some drugs, you must strictly use the dosage prescribed by your doctor. Especially, if you take medications of a psychotropic group and medicines, which influence the nervous and hormonal systems.
To prevent possible dysfunctions, it is advised to do the following:
- Monitor the condition of the cardiovascular system (regular ECG, measure blood pressure, etc.)
- Control the level of cholesterol in the blood.
- Change the way of life. Quit bad habits, do physical exercises, eat healthy, and spend more time in fresh air.