What is Erectile Dysfunction?
Erectile dysfunction is also known as ‘impotence’ or ‘ED’ for short. It is characterized by the failure to achieve an erection when stimulated and to maintain an erection for a sufficiently long period of time to perform sexual activities satisfactorily.
A penis is composed of a cylindrical tube inside the outer skin covering and the veins. When a person gets sexually aroused the blood flow to the penis gets increased significantly and results in the penis getting longer and more firm than the normal flaccid state.
What are the Symptoms of Erectile Dysfunction?
Most visible signs and symptoms of an erectile dysfunction are:
- Difficulty in getting erection
- Difficulty in maintaining erection
- Decrease in libido (sexual desire)
What are the Causes of Erectile Dysfunction?
The process of male sexual arousal is very complicated and involves the combination of mental, hormonal, nervous, muscular and vascular factors. Erectile dysfunction can be caused due to a problem with any of these factors. The state of your mental health and presence of stress in life can also have an effect on your erectile abilities.
At times a combination of psychological and physical problems can also cause erectile dysfunction.
These are some of the known causes that result in erectile dysfunction in men:
Most cases of erectile dysfunction are caused by physical factors, such as:
- Heart disorder
- Atherosclerosis (clogged blood vessels)
- High cholesterol level
- High blood pressure
- Metabolic conditions
- Peyronie’s disease (scar tissue on penis)
- Parkinson’s disease
- Multiple sclerosis
- Excessive tobacco use
- Excessive alcohol consumption
- Some prescription drugs
- Sleep disorders
- Prostate cancer or enlarged prostate treatments
The psychological stimulation plays an important role in achieving an erection due to sexual stimulation. There are various things that can inhibit sexual arousal and may also worsen erectile dysfunction, such as:
- Relationship problems
How is Erectile Dysfunction Diagnosed?
The diagnosis of erectile dysfunction includes a complete physical examination by your doctor. The doctor will check for any underlying conditions, including chronic problems that could be causing erectile dysfunction in your case.
These are some of the more common test performed to determine if you are suffering from erectile dysfunction:
The doctor may examine your testicles and penis to check for normal nerve sensations.
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A urine test can also help for determining signs of diabetes or other underlying conditions that may be causing erectile dysfunction.
This test is useful in testing the blood flow in the penile blood vessels to check for vascular blood supply problems in the penis.
This test in performed after inducing an artificial erection with an injection of medicines to stimulate blood flow.
Overnight Erection Test
Most men get an erection during sleep unawares. This test involves wrapping a device around the penis before going to sleep to measure the number of erections as well as their strength. This helps determine if the erectile dysfunction is being caused due to a physical or psychological condition.
These tests are performed to check for any kind of psychological issues such as stress or depression that might be causing erectile dysfunction.
What are the Treatment Methods for Erectile Dysfunction?
The treatment methods are various and the doctor will suggest the most efficient one depending on the cause and severity of your erectile dysfunction.
These are the number of different treatment methods for erectile dysfunction:
There are a number of different oral medications that are prescribed by doctors to treat erectile dysfunction (ED). The main aim of these medications is to increase the effects of nitric oxide (a naturally occurring chemical in the body) to relax the muscles in the penis. This result in an increase in the blood flow in the penis and allows you to gain erection with sexual stimulation.
This is injected into the base of the penis using a very fine needle. This results in inducing an erection for around an hour.
In case you are experiencing erectile dysfunction due to a low level of testosterone in the body the testosterone replacement therapy is usually recommended initially.
A penis pump is a vacuum erection device that consists of a hollow tube with either a hand-powered or a battery-powered pump. This device is used by placing your penis inside the hollow tube and using the pump to create a vacuum in the tube. This vacuum pulls the blood into your penis.
Once an erection is achieved you are required to place a tension ring around the base of the penis to maintain the increased blood flow in it.
This is a surgical treatment that involves placement of devices in the sides of the penis. These implants are made from semi-rigid or inflatable rods. The inflatable rods are more advantageous as they allow you to decide for how long you wish to maintain the erection, while the semi-rigid rod is bendable.
These implants are usually used as a last resort in case other treatment methods for ED have been unsuccessful for you.
Blood Vessel Surgery
In very cases erectile dysfunction may be caused due to an obstructed blood vessel. A surgical treatment may be required to repair this condition, using either a bypass method or vascular stent implant.
If your erectile dysfunction is being caused due to psychological conditions such as anxiety, depression or stress, the doctor might suggest you and your partner to go for psychological counseling sessions.