Much like a barometer is a reflection of weather, so is an erection a reflection of a man’s overall health, specifically cardiovascular disease. When men cannot achieve an erection hard enough for sexual intercourse, we refer to it as erectile dysfunction. Erectile dysfunction or ED is sometimes called impotence. By definition it refers to the consistent inability to achieve or maintain an erection sufficient to have sexual intercourse. This common problem affects from 15-30 million men in the US alone.
While occurrence does increase with age, it does not have to be an inevitable consequence of aging. Research has found that ED is frequently linked to a physical cause, which can be a byproduct of an underlying health condition that needs attention. It is important to realize that ED is almost always treatable. For instance, consider the introduction in 1998 of the oral drug sildenafil citrate, or Viagra. Just this one therapy has led to an increase in the number of men seeking help so they can return to normal sexual activity. Since the release of Viagra; two other medications have been released; vardenafil , or Levitra and Tadadafil or Cialis.
Are You at Risk?
Erection happens through a complex sequence of events involving nerves, arteries, veins, muscles and tissues. Any disruption of these functions can bring about erectile dysfunction.
Estimates show that 70 percent of ED cases can be attributed to conditions such as diabetes, atherosclerosis, alcoholism, vascular disease, neurological disease and kidney disease. Often, medications affecting the nerves or impairing blood flow to the penis have a role. Also, smoking and being overweight can lead to ED.
It is known that certain surgeries with the potential to injure nerves and arteries near the penis might have ED as a side effect. One huge advantage in surgical techniques is the nerve-sparing radical prostatectomy, which has reduced the possibility of this problem. Further research has shown that 10-20 percent of ED cases derive from purely psychological origins.
How Do We Treat Erectile Dysfunction?
Treatment is varied and reviewed by your physician on an individual basis. Your physician might recommend therapeutic lifestyle changes, such as quitting smoking, losing weight, or exercising…or all of these. Consideration is given to eliminating, reducing, or changing medications that could be contributing to the problem. If these strategies are insufficient, medications for ED might be recommended.
An entire class of drugs known as phosphodiesterase inhibitors (Viagra was first, then came Levitra and Cialis) enhance the effects of nitric oxide, a chemical designed to smooth the muscle of the penis, so blood flows into the organ. Your physician reviews certain medical conditions you have, especially if you are taking medications for conditions that include hypertension and benign prostatic hyperplasia. Under these circumstances, your physician might not advise the use of these ED drugs.
Cases have shown that for some men injectable drugs can be beneficial, since they help engorge the penis with blood and produce an erection. Many men have found that mechanical vacuum devices have been effective, especially if you are able to have partial erections. Surgery might be considered, such as penile implants.
Sometimes, psychological counseling might be recommended if your physicians feels you may be dealing with anxiety or depression. There are alternative treatments like nutritional supplements, herbal remedies and acupuncture that could be considered. Some of these therapies have not been proven successful and another issue is lack of regulation so it’s best to consult with your NEIU physician.
ED is a problem that you should be concerned about. We’ll help you understand the treatment options as well as help determine if there are underlying medical conditions that can be an issue.
Other Male Sexual Dysfunctions Treated at NEIU
- Rapid ejaculation: premature ejaculation, fast or early orgasm
- Prolonged ejaculation: delayed ejaculation
- Peyronies Disease: curvature of the penis
- Hypogonadism: low testosterone
- Male infertility