The erectile dysfunction , also known as impotence is the inability to obtain and maintain a penile erection firm enough for sex.
We can say that a man suffers from erectile dysfunction if he has difficulty obtaining or maintaining an erection firm enough to be able to have sex, or if he interferes with other sexual activities.
Having erection problems from time to time is not necessarily a cause for concern. However, if erectile dysfunction is a constant problem, it can cause stress, affect self-confidence and contribute to relationship problems.
Problems getting or maintaining an erection can also be a sign of an underlying health condition that needs treatment. Sometimes, treating these other health problems is enough to reverse erectile dysfunction. In other cases, psychological treatments, medications or other direct treatments may be necessary.
How does an erection happen?
An erection is the result of increased blood flow to the penis. Blood flow is usually stimulated by sexual thoughts or direct contact with the penis.
When a man is sexually aroused, the muscles of the penis relax. This relaxation allows an increase in blood flow through the penile arteries. This blood fills two chambers inside the penis called corpora cavernosa. When the chambers fill with blood, the penis becomes rigid. The erection ends when the muscles contract and the accumulated blood can flow through the penile veins.
The erectile dysfunction may occur because of problems at any stage of the erection process. For example, the penile arteries may be too damaged to open properly and allow blood to enter.
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Causes of erectile dysfunction
Male sexual arousal is a complex process involving the brain , hormones, emotions , nerves, muscles and blood vessels. Erectile dysfunction can result from a problem with any of them. Likewise, concerns about stress and mental health can cause or worsen erectile dysfunction.
Sometimes, a combination of physical and psychological problems causes erectile dysfunction. For example, a minor physical condition that slows down your sexual response can cause anxiety about maintaining an erection. The resulting anxiety can lead to or worsen erectile dysfunction. In many cases, erectile dysfunction is caused by something physical. Common causes include:
- Heart disease
- Clogged blood vessels (atherosclerosis)
- High cholesterol
- High pressure
- Metabolic syndrome: a condition that involves high blood pressure, high insulin levels, body fat around the waist and high cholesterol
- Parkinson’s disease
- Multiple sclerosis
- Certain prescription drugs
- Tobacco use : restricts blood flow to veins and arteries and can, over time, cause chronic health conditions that lead to erectile dysfunction
- Peyronie’s disease: development of scar tissue inside the penis
- Alcoholism and other forms of substance abuse
- Sleep disorders
- Treatments for prostate cancer or enlarged prostate
- Injuries, particularly if they damage the nerves or arteries that control erections
- Medicines, including antidepressants , antihistamines, and medications to treat high blood pressure, pain, or prostate conditions
- Surgeries or injuries that affect the pelvic area or spinal cord.
As a person ages, erections may also take longer to develop and may not be as firm. In that case, more direct contact with the penis will be necessary to obtain and maintain an erection.
Psychological causes of erectile dysfunction
The brain plays a key role in triggering the series of physical events that cause an erection, starting with feelings of sexual arousal. Several things can interfere with sexual feelings and cause or worsen erectile dysfunction. These include: depression , anxiety or other mental health conditions, stress, relationship problems, poor communication or other concerns.
Symptoms of erectile dysfunction
Symptoms of erectile dysfunction can include:
- Problems getting an erection
- Difficulty maintaining an erection
- Reduced sexual desire
- Unsatisfactory sex life
- Stress or anxiety
- Embarrassment or low self-esteem
- Relationship problems
- Inability to impregnate your partner
Other dysfunction-related sexual disorders include:
- Premature ejaculation
- Delayed ejaculation
- Anorgasmia , which is the inability to reach orgasm after extensive stimulation
When is it necessary to see a doctor?
It is essential to talk to a doctor if any of the above symptoms appear. Especially, if they last for two or more months. Your doctor can determine if the sexual disorder is caused by an underlying condition that requires treatment.
Living with erectile dysfunction can be quite stressful. The drop in self-esteem can affect many other areas of life. Because of this, it is important to consult your doctor especially in cases where:
- Do you have constant concerns about your erections or are you experiencing other sexual problems, such as premature or delayed ejaculation;
- You have diabetes, heart disease or another known health condition that may be linked to erectile dysfunction;
- You have other symptoms along with erectile dysfunction;
- The symptoms of the dysfunction are hurting other areas of your life.
How is the diagnosis made?
Your doctor will ask questions about your symptoms and health history. In addition, you can take tests to determine if your symptoms are caused by an underlying condition.
A physical exam will be performed in which your doctor will listen to your heart and lungs, check your blood pressure and examine your testicles and penis. A rectal exam to check your prostate may also be recommended. In addition, you may need blood or urine tests to rule out other conditions.
To deal with erection problems, you can choose to work on many different levels. The best way to prevent erectile dysfunction is to make healthy lifestyle choices and manage any existing health conditions. Mainly, combine this with mental health care.
- Work with your doctor to manage diabetes, heart disease or other chronic health conditions
- Consult your doctor for regular checkups and medical screening exams
- Stop smoking, limit or avoid alcohol and do not use other illegal drugs
- Exercise regularly
- Take steps to reduce stress
- Get help for anxiety, depression or other mental health problems.
Can impotence cure?
For some people, it is possible that their symptoms of erectile dysfunction end permanently, but it depends on what the causes are. Even if the person is unable to resolve erection problems permanently, it is still possible to find a solution that can be used regularly.
Long-term solutions for erectile dysfunction include:
- Exercise or lifestyle changes ( 31 to 40% of people think this works for them ): If you maintain regular exercise for erectile dysfunction, or follow healthier choices , you may find that your erection problems have a solution. In addition, you may see some other general health and well-being benefits .
- Eat a healthy and balanced diet : you are unlikely to have erectile dysfunction because you are malnourished (not getting enough vitamins and minerals), but if you don’t eat healthy, you can end up with high cholesterol, high blood pressure or diabetes, and then it’s more you are likely to have erection problems.
- Sexual counseling or therapy (58% of people think this works for them): causes of erectile dysfunction related to the mind can affect anyone. They are more likely if you have erectile dysfunction at a younger age. Talking to an online sexologist or sex therapist can help some people overcome erectile dysfunction related to these problems, possibly forever. They can also help you if erectile dysfunction is causing stress, as it can make things worse.
- Checking your current medication : If you are taking medication for other illnesses, it may be that your erection problems are a side effect. Ask a doctor to check if this is the cause of your problems and, if so, you can change your medications and find that your erectile dysfunction completely disappears or improves considerably.
Remember that even if you choose another option, like erectile dysfunction drugs or devices like implants, penis pumps or cock rings, they can also be used in the long term. While it is possible to take long-term medications, your doctor will need to check that they are still suitable for you whenever you need more.
Exercise, training and devices
While lifestyle changes can be a good place to start, if you are motivated to try some more practical approaches to fix erection problems, there are some additional options. There are some exercises to train the muscles or the blood supply to your penis. There are also some devices designed for this. These include:
Some men use a form of massage therapy called prostate massage. Practitioners massage the tissues around your groin to promote blood flow to your penis. There are limited studies on the effectiveness of this type of massage.
Acupuncture can help treat psychological dysfunction, although studies are limited and inconclusive. You will probably need several sessions before you start to notice improvements. When choosing an acupuncturist, look for a certified professional.
Pelvic floor muscle exercises
A small study of 55 men found improvement in penile function after three months of regular exercise with pelvic floor muscles. After six months, 40% of men had recovered normal erectile function.
Kegel exercises are simple, and you can use them to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles. First, identify your pelvic floor muscles. To do this, stop peeing in the middle of the road and feel what was stimulated to do so. The muscles you use to do this are the pelvic floor muscles. Your testicles will also grow when you contract these muscles. Now that you know where these muscles are, contract them for 5 to 20 seconds. Then release them. Repeat this exercise 10 to 20 times in a row, three to four times a day.
Meditation or yoga
Relaxation and meditation techniques can help to reduce the stress you are feeling and the impact it has on your erections.
They are small plastic tubes that are connected to a pump that can be operated by battery or manually. They are inserted into the penis and then use the action of the pump to move the blood.
These can be used alone or after using a penis pump. They fit at the base of the penis and testicles and block some of the blood that comes out of the penis. Blood is always going in and out of the penis, but by slowing the blood out, you trap more and help improve your erection.
For people who are concerned about the effects of prescription drugs, there are natural alternatives for treating the dysfunction. Below are some supplements that aid in treatment.
- Vitamin E
- Flavonoid-rich foods
Psychological factors are a very common cause of erectile dysfunction. They can include stress, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder and even depression.
If you are experiencing psychological problems, you can benefit from psychotherapy as a form of treatment. An online sexologist can be critical at this point! Therapy can help you manage your mental health. You will probably work with your therapist for several sessions, and your therapist will address things like major stressors or anxiety, feelings related to sex or subconscious conflicts that may be affecting your sexual well-being.