Erectile Dysfunction: Symptoms, Causes and Treatment

Overview

Erectile dysfunction, also called impotence, is the inability for a man to get and maintain his penis erect throughout a sexual activity. A temporary erectile dysfunction is not necessarily a cause of concern, however, an ongoing issue can cause stress, weaken men’s self-confidence and disharmonize relationships.

As it is estimated by the National Institute of Health in 2002, there are 15 million to 30 million men in the United States experiencing chronic erectile dysfunction. Nearly 50 % of men over 40 are confronted with this problem.

Causes

Erectile dysfunction is a complex problem of male sexual arousal resulting from physical and psychological causes separately or jointly.

Some common physical causes include:

  • Heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Sleep disorder
  • Tobacco use

Besides, a few psychological causes can also interfere with normal sexual feelings, cause and worsen erectile dysfunction:

  • Performance anxiety
  • Stress
  • Low self-esteem
  • Depression
  • Mental disorders
  • Distress between the man and his partner

Symptoms

Erectile dysfunction can be a routine and bothersome problem in sexual relationships without any conspicuous trace in life. According to the definition, for men with common weak erection, common symptoms include:

  • Persistent trouble getting an erection
  • Persistent trouble maintaining an erection
  • Reduced sexual desire
  • Excessive pre-cum followed by weakened erections
  • Bruising to the penile tissue

Diagnosis

It’s important to identify a patient’s causes of erectile dysfunction before giving him relevant treatment. An inquiry of the person’s health and ED history is usually carried out ahead of a physical examination and laboratory investigations. Tests for underlying conditions might include:

  • Physical exam

A physical exam checks your total health. The examination focuses on your penis, testicles, and nerves for sensation. Your heart, peripheral pulses and blood pressure, the prostate may also be considered based on your heart, blood system, age and family history.

  • Blood tests

A sample of your blood might be sent to a lab to check for signs of heart disease, diabetes, low testosterone levels, and other health conditions.

  • Ultrasound

An ultrasound test requires a specialist to hold a device over the blood vessels that provide blood to the penis. Through a video image, your doctor may know if you have blood flow problems. To have better effects like stimulating blood flow and producing an erection, this test is usually done with an injection of medications.

  • Psychological exam

Your doctor might ask questions to screen for depression and other possible psychological causes of erectile dysfunction. Questions will involve your health circumstances, specific details about erectile dysfunction and your stress and emotional health.

For some men with ED, there are specialized tests for further treatment or reassessment.

  • Blood work
  • A shot into the penis
  • Pelvic x-rays like arteriography, MRI or CT scanning
  • Nocturnal penile tumescence (NPT)

Treatment

You might choose different treatment methods depending on the cause and severity of your erectile dysfunction. Your doctor can explain the risks and benefits of each treatment and will consider your and your partner’s preferences.

  • Oral medications

Oral medications are successful erectile dysfunction treatment for most men. They include sildenafil (Viagra), tadalafil(Adcirca, Cialis), vardenafil (Levitra, Staxyn), and avanafil (Stendra).

  • Other medications

Other medications for erectile dysfunction include alprostadil self-injection, alprostadil urethral suppository, and testosterone replacement.

  • Penis pumps

A penis pump (vacuum erection device) is a hollow tube with a hand-powered or battery-powered pump. The tube is placed over your penis, and then the pump is used to suck out the air inside the tube. This creates a vacuum that pulls blood into your penis.

  • Penile implants

This treatment involves surgically placing devices into both sides of the penis. These implants consist of either inflatable or malleable (bendable) rods.


Keywords: erectile dysfunction; impotence.

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* The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.