What is ED?
Erectile dysfunction refers to a man’s inability to get or maintain an erection. Often men can have this problem occasionally but if it is a frequent occurrence it could be a sign of a health problem that requires treatment. Causes of erectile dysfunction include cardiovascular disease, stress, anxiety, diabetes, drug use, alcohol use, smoking, relationship problems, and more.
The good news is that there are numerous treatments for ED ranging from creams and oral medication to psychological counselling, testosterone therapy, and surgery. You need to make sure you’re getting the right treatment for your specific condition and so it’s important to discuss your problem with a doctor. ED might seem trivial to some people, but it can seriously endanger your health without treatment, especially as you get older.
How do you know if you have a problem?
Do you persistently have problems getting an erection? Or maintaining an erection? Do you have reduced sexual desire? Have you stopped getting morning erections?
If the answer is yes to any of these questions, a good place to start is by seeing a family doctor. If you suffer from ejaculatory dysfunction (premature or delayed ejaculation) or if you have diabetes or any heart problems you should also bring this up with your doctor.
Morning erections are actually really important and can help diagnose ED and other male health issues, so not experiencing them or experiencing them less frequently is definitely something to look out for.
Sexual health and cardiovascular health
Unfortunately, the majority of men do not seek treatment for ED. This can have great implications both for a man’s intimate relationships and his health. Prolonged ED can be extremely frustrating and it won’t just go away on its own. With so many treatments available now it is pretty simple to find the appropriate treatment which can make a world of difference to a man’s sex life, and even prolong his life.
According to the University of Mississippi, men with ED have a 70% increased risk of premature death. And according to Mayo Clinic, men with ED are 80% more likely to develop heart disease.
So what’s the connection between ED and cardiovascular health?
Since the vessels that carry the blood to a man’s penis are so tiny, they can easily get blocked. An unhealthy lifestyle (smoking, poor diet, lack of exercise, etc) can often compound the problem with plaque building up in the vessels making it impossible to get an erection. If not treated, this plaque will continue to build and begin to block larger arteries such as those that carry blood to the heart. This increases the chance of heart attacks and even death.
This is why it’s so important to tackle erectile dysfunction early on. With appropriate treatment, any cardiovascular problems can be prevented or treated. Similarly, if you already have heart disease getting the right treatment will also help treat your ED.
ED doesn’t always necessarily indicate an underlying heart problem but men who suffer from ED with no other obvious cause should be screened for heart disease before beginning treatment.
Low testosterone levels can often play a role in erectile dysfunction since the lack of the hormone has been shown to cause constriction of the blood vessels throughout the body, resulting in poor circulation. Since a man needs to have good blood circulation to get an erection, ED is naturally caused when circulation is poor.
Having low testosterone levels often causes other symptoms along with ED such as a reduced sex drive, anxiety, depression or irritability. While it is difficult to determine if ED results from low testosterone levels or something else, if these other symptoms are present it could be a significant factor. A doctor can better assess whether a man’s ED results from very low testosterone levels or an underlying cardiovascular disease, stress or psychological issues. If your ED is down to low testosterone then testosterone therapy is one type of treatment that can help improve your symptoms. If you’re not sure about testosterone factoring into your diagnoses try this quick online self-assessment test for low testosterone to see how many symptoms relate to you. It will provide you with a good indication and recommendations to take with you when you visit the doctor about it.
Together with lifestyle changes and medical treatments, erectile dysfunction and low testosterone levels can be controlled, with men being able to maintain a healthy sex life.
If you are worried about ED (erectile dysfunction) and want some further reading head over to WebMD for a comprehensive guide to the condition.