WHAT IS ERECTILE DYSFUNCTION?
Erectile dysfunction (or ED), also called male impotence, describes a man’s inability to achieve and maintain an erection of his penis sufficient for mutually satisfactory sexual intercourse with his partner. By itself, ED is not a disease but more of a signal that something else may be a problem. Erectile dysfunction is a common condition affecting over 50% of men to some degree. Half of men ages 40-70 have experienced this condition to some degree, yet only a small number seek help from their doctors.
Sexual dysfunction can sometimes be caused by disorders such as diabetes, high blood pressure, vascular disease, heart disease, nervous system disorders, and depression as well as an unwanted side effect from some medications. Male sexual dysfunction may be the symptom of such disorders that brings them to the doctor's office in the first place.
Sexual health and function are important in determining a man’s quality of life. As Americans age, disorders such as erectile dysfunction (ED) are becoming increasingly apparent. Because this subject is discussed widely in the media, men and women of all ages are seeking guidance in an effort to improve their relationships and experience satisfying sex lives.
The successful treatment of ED has been shown to improve sexual intimacy and satisfaction, improve sexual aspects of quality of life as well as overall quality of life, and relieve symptoms of depression.
WHAT CAUSES ERECTILE DYSFUNCTION?
Currently, virtually any man who wishes to have an erection can obtain it, regardless of the underlying cause of his problem. Many reasonable treatment options exist. Your first step is to find a well-trained, experienced, and compassionate doctor who is willing to take the time to understand you and fully examine you to discover the cause and discuss the treatments available to you.
Your doctor will want to rule out any other causes for your concern such as high blood pressure, prostate cancer, vascular disease, and diabetes.
By seeing your doctor, you may very well be saving your life if the doctor detects - and treats - a life-threatening illness. Often, you can restore your sexual health by treating a condition such as high blood pressure with diet and exercise or controlling your diabetes.
For some men, erectile dysfunction develops with age or may be related to depression or another psychological cause. In these cases, psychological counseling with you and your sexual partner may be successful.
Medications can cause ED, especially drugs you might take to control blood pressure or depression (antidepressants) (see Impotence/Erectile Dysfunction for a list of medications that may cause ED). Anti-ulcer drugs can be a cause, as can alcohol or drug abuse. ED is a side effect. Talk with your doctor about medications that might not cause this side effect. Do not just stop taking your prescribed medication.
Other causes include damage to the erection bodies in the penis; diabetes; various hormonal disorders; blood flow problems; psychological factors, such as depression; and surgical complications from abdominal, pelvic, or back surgery.
HOW IS ERECTILE DYSFUNCTION TREATED?
Treatment options include sexual counseling, medications, external vacuum devices, hormonal therapy, penile injections, or intraurethral suppositories (see Impotence/Erectile Dysfunction for treatment options). In highly selected cases under the supervision of a urology specialist in ED, combination therapy using several of these methods together can be used. If none of these therapies is satisfactory, penile implants through surgery can be considered.
Most patients start with Viagra and other similar drugs. No one could miss all of the consumer advertising for drugs to aid in ED. You see advertising for these drugs in magazines and on TV. Certainly there are plenty of jokes about Viagra and similar drugs, but ED is not funny if you are experiencing it