Erectile Dysfunction, a sexual dysfunction that affects men, is much more common than some may assume. The global prevalence of Erectile Dysfunction (ED) is reported as falling somewhere between 3–76.5%. While that does seem like a very wide margin, it's important to remember a few facts about the condition: symptoms of ED can vary, not everyone who suffers from ED is diagnosed or treated, and the risks and overall likelihood of developing ED increase with age.
It's also important to understand that while Erectile Dysfunction will definitely impact you in the bedroom, this is anything but a bedroom issue.
Understanding Erectile Dysfunction
In its most broad sense, Erectile Dysfunction is understood as a condition that leads to the inability to maintain an erection long enough or firm enough to satisfy yourself and/or a sexual partner. While most men experience occasions in which their erections are unpredictable, when this happens so frequently that it becomes the norm or creates a disruption to your sex life, you may be experiencing the onset of ED.
While anyone can have the occasional "bad day" when it comes to erections, regular issues warrant medical attention.
If you're concerned about your erections, it's smart to talk to a doctor about what you're experiencing. An informed healthcare professional can correctly assess your situation, diagnose any potential conditions, explore the causes behind what you're experiencing, and recommend the best potential treatments for your situation.
Leading Causes of Erectile Dysfunction
Understanding erections will help you understand Erectile Dysfunction.
The function of an erection is controlled largely by blood vessels. When something happens to interfere with blood flow to the penis, Erectile Dysfunction can be the result.
Please note that while ED may be a sign of issues with blood vessels or blocked arteries, there are often other causes at work.
The blood vessel processes that lead to an erection are controlled by your nervous system. Some medications can interfere with the nerve signals that make an erection happen. They include certain stimulants, sedatives, diuretics, antihistamines, and drugs to treat high blood pressure, cancer, or depression. But never stop taking a medication unless your doctor tells you to. Alcohol, tobacco, and illegal drugs, such as marijuana, may also contribute to ED. (WebMD)
While blocked arteries and complications related to diabetes can be leading factors in developing ED, hormonal imbalances can also prove a factor.
Studies have also found links between Erectile Dysfunction and Heart Disease.
Erectile Dysfunction and Heart Disease
Unfortunately, if a man has ED, he has a greater risk of having heart disease.
Having ED can predict that a man will probably have heart disease symptoms within five years. In fact, having ED is as much a risk factor for heart disease as a history of smoking or a family history of coronary artery disease. (Cleveland Clinic)
Given that having ED is an equal risk factor for cardiovascular disease alongside a history of smoking or a family history of coronary artery disease, it's of utmost importance that people experiencing symptoms of ED seek out diagnosis and treatment.
While ED affecting you in the bedroom is not a small issue, it matters less whether you're performing at your sexual peak and more whether you're at risk for developing cardiovascular disease in the next few years.
When You Should Worry About Erectile Dysfunction
It's totally normal to have the occasional problem getting or maintaining erections.
- Lack of sleep
- Stress at work
- Chronic pain
- Relational complications
- Issues of anxiety/depression
These and other factors may lead to occasions when you struggle to get or maintain an erection.
However, if your current erectile issues are causing you anxiety, affecting your sexual relationship(s), or have begun to occur regularly or with increasing frequency, it's time to talk to a doctor about treatments.
How Is Erectile Dysfunction Treated?
There are various treatment options available for those suffering from ED, and the ones recommended for you will be based on the issues that are causing your ED symptoms.
In many cases, you will be prescribed FDA-approved medications such as Viagra and Cialis. These drugs help increase blood flow to the penis, and they're remarkably effective in most cases.
Hormones and Suppelements
For those who are looking to avoid medications, or whose issues stem more from imbalances in their system than anything else, hormone therapy and/or a regimen of supplements may be helpful. While hormone therapy will be prescribed through your doctor and flow through approved channels, herbal supplements may come from unregulated sources.
If you're to see the most effective treatments, it's vital that you consult with qualified healthcare professionals.
In more rare cases, doctors may prescribe penile injections to trigger erections. For men who can't take oral treatments, or whose other medications may not combine well with the ones mentioned above, injections have proven effective.
While this is not a common treatment, some cases (such as spinal injuries or neurological disorders) require implantable pumps or penile prostheses. Though these require an initial surgery, they can help treat ED over the long haul.
Should I See a Doctor About Potential ED Symptoms?
Although many of us have come to believe that ED is common in men, especially as they age, it's important not to overlook the potential seriousness of the issue.
Aside from having an impact on your sex life, ED can be the precursor to developing heart disease.
If you are experiencing ongoing and/or increasing problems holding an erection, or if your erections fail 50% of the time or more, now is a good time to make an appointment with a doctor.
Seeking an ED diagnosis can feel daunting, but you don't have to wade these waters alone.
We're here for you.
Mississippi Urology Clinic Can Help
Here at Mississippi Urology Clinic, we are here to support your urinary health. That includes issues related to Erectile Dysfunction. To learn more about this condition, or to schedule a consultation with a member of our team, please feel free to contact us.