Erectile Dysfunction: Causes and Cures

Erectile dysfunction (ED) is a concern for some men. But, they may be reluctant to openly discuss it because erectile dysfunction can be a sensitive and emotional matter. It is not something that some men can easily disclose. Some may find it hard to accept even to themselves. Discussing it with others may be even more difficult.

Erectile dysfunction is often more than just a physical problem. It is the inability of a person to sustain his erection during the whole period of the sexual response cycle, which starts with excitement and includes orgasm, plateau, and resolution. Erectile dysfunction can lead to dissatisfaction during sexual intercourse.

While it is a reproductive health issue, erectile dysfunction is a sexual dysfunction with psychological components. The inability to sustain an erection that lasts for the entire period of sexual intercourse not only relates to the physical body. Psychological reasons can lead to erectile dysfunction.

The Physical Component of Erectile Dysfunction

An erection is a complex process that involves the brain, the nerves, the hormones, the muscles, and the blood circulation. Erectile dysfunction can occur when something interferes in any of these processes. There are also instances where erectile dysfunction is not the main issue. It can also be a sign of another underlying health problem.

At times, people may experience erectile dysfunction due to cardiovascular problems, diabetes, kidney or liver failure, alcoholism, and drug addiction. It is important to seek medical assistance for erectile dysfunction because it shares the same risk factors as strokes, heart attacks and other conditions. Other causes of erectile dysfunction include some types of medications, such as antidepressant drugs known as benzodiazepines (benzos).

The Psychological Component of Erectile Dysfunction

The psychological component of erectile dysfunction can be associated with sexual dysfunction. It can be a lack of interest in sex or the lack of the desire for it over a long period of time, which can be considered a desire disorder. It can also be an arousal disorder, an inability to be physically aroused or excited during sexual intercourse while still emotionally desiring a physical connection.

Sexual dysfunction can also be an orgasm disorder that occurs when a man is emotionally in the mood for intercourse but experiences a delay or absence of climax or orgasm. Erectile dysfunction can occur because of pain disorders when men experience pain during intercourse. Stress and anxiety can cause such dysfunction. Men may be stressed from work or other preoccupations. They may be anxious about their sexual performance and their stress and anxiety may hurt their performance.

Marital or relationship problems can also affect men’s arousal. Feelings of guilt, depression, the effects of former traumatic intercourse, and insecurity caused by body image can also contribute to erectile dysfunction. The sexual response, or how the body reacts to stimulation, arousal, and sex, and how it relates to the brain, may be different from the desired response.

How to Treat Erectile Dysfunction?

The best way to treat erectile dysfunction is through medical testing, diagnosis, and treatment. Doctors known as urologists should check the status of erectile dysfunction. They can determine the best course of treatment for this condition.

Urologists might suggest treatment options such as:

  • Medications. There are oral and injectable medications to treat the condition. Oral medications for erectile dysfunction may make it easier to treat it. They include:
    • Viagra (Sildenafil)
    • Cialis or Adcirca (Tadalafil)
    • Levitra or Staxyn (Vardenafil)
    • Stendra (Avanafil)

These oral medications enhance the effects of nitric oxide, which is a natural chemical produced by the body that relaxes muscles in the penis. The medications enhance blood flow, causing erections during sexual stimulation. But, such medications may not be equally effective for all men. They may even cause adverse reactions.

Injectable medications may be good options for men who are adversely affected by oral medications. Injections or dissolvable pellets may deliver the drugs directly to the penis.

  • Hormone replacement therapy. If low levels of testosterone are causing erectile dysfunction, hormone replacement therapy may alleviate the condition.
  • Vacuum erection devices. Vacuum erection devices are also called penis pumps. These devices are hollow tubes with battery-powered or hand-powered pumps. Men place the devices over their penises. The devices remove air inside the tubes to create vacuums that pull blood into penises.
  • Penile implants. Penile implants to treat erectile dysfunction can be options for those who do not respond to any other treatments. Usually, there are clear medical causes for the erectile dysfunction and it is evident that other cures are no longer possible. Such implants are outpatient procedures that are available in two types: a semi-rigid rod or malleable prosthesis as well as a hydraulic, inflatable implant also known as an inflatable penile prosthesis (IPP).

As with other conditions, erectile dysfunction is often a complex condition of physical and psychological factors. As with other conditions, medical and therapeutic assistance can help people diagnose and treat it.

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