Erectile dysfunction, also known as ED, is the inability of a man to achieve or maintain an erection sufficient for sexual intercourse through to orgasm.
It is a common condition that can affect men of all ages, but the likelihood of experiencing ED increases with age
According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), ED affects an estimated 18 million men in the United States alone. This number is expected to rise as the population ages, with estimates suggesting that up to 30 million men in the US may experience ED by 2025.
It’s important to come away from these lessons with a sense that ED is not some failure or weakness of yourself as a man. In almost all cases, it is caused by real disorders or even diseases, so in that sense, ED is not something to be ashamed of, especially if that is deterring you from talking to your doctor.
Lesson 1: The possible physical causes of Erectile Dysfunction
Some physical causes of ED in older men include:
- Cardiovascular disease: ED is often a warning sign of underlying cardiovascular problems, such as blockages in the arteries that can reduce blood flow to the penis.
- Diabetes: High blood sugar levels can damage the blood vessels and nerves that are essential for achieving and maintaining an erection.
- Hormonal imbalances: Low levels of testosterone or other hormones can contribute to ED. Low testosterone levels can contribute to erectile dysfunction by interfering with the signaling pathways that lead to an erection.
- Prostate surgery: Surgery to remove the prostate gland (prostatectomy) can cause nerve damage that can lead to ED.
- Medications: Some medications, including antidepressants, blood pressure medications, and drugs used to treat prostate cancer, can cause ED as a side effect.
- ED is more common in older men, with the NIDDK estimating that about 5% of men at the age of 40 and between 15% and 25% of men at the age of 65 experience ED. However, it is important to note that ED can occur at any age and is not a normal part of aging.
Lesson 2: Possible psychological causes of Erectile Dysfunction
ED can also be caused by external psychological factors, such as stress, anxiety, and depression. These issues can interfere with a person’s ability to get and maintain an erection by disrupting the normal process of arousal and desire. Other psychological causes of ED may include:
- Performance anxiety: Fear of failure or worries about sexual performance can make it difficult to achieve an erection.
- Relationship problems: Difficulties with communication, intimacy, or trust in a relationship can lead to ED.
- Stress: Stressful events or situations can disrupt a person’s normal sexual functioning.
Lesson 3: Symptoms and available treatments for Erectile Dysfunction
The main symptom of ED is the inability to achieve or maintain an erection sufficient for satisfactory sexual intercourse from arousal through to orgasm. Other possible symptoms may include:
- Difficulty getting an erection
- Loss of spontaneous erections
- Difficulty maintaining an erection
Treatment options for ED include:
- Lifestyle changes: Making healthy lifestyle choices, such as exercising regularly and not smoking, can help improve ED.
- Medications: Oral medications, such as Viagra (sildenafil), Cialis (tadalafil), and Levitra (vardenafil), can be effective in treating ED. These medications work by increasing blood flow to the penis.
- Testosterone replacement therapy can be used to treat low testosterone levels and improve symptoms of erectile dysfunction. Testosterone replacement therapy can be administered through a variety of methods, including creams such as AndroForte, injections, patches, and pellets.
- Vacuum devices: These devices use a pump to create a vacuum around the penis, which can help to draw blood into the penis and cause an erection.
- Penile injections: Injections of medications into the penis can help to achieve and maintain an erection.
- Penile implants: In cases where other treatments have not been effective, a penile implant (a surgical procedure in which a device is placed inside the penis to help achieve and maintain an erection) may be recommended.
We hope you have come away from these short lessons with a few positive thoughts:
- ED is a common disorder, and is not some weakness you should be afraid or ashamed to talk about with your trained healthcare provider
- ED can have some physical causes that point to other possibly serious underlying conditions. Failure to discuss your whole health picture could lead to serious consequences later on
- There are several available medications that will improve your sexual performance. Some of these are easy treatments such as oral medications and creams, while others may be a bit more radical, but will still in the end address your problem.