Erectile dysfunction or impotence refers to the inability to achieve and maintain an erection firm enough for sexual intercourse.
Having trouble with erections from time to time isn’t necessarily something to be concerned about. However if impotence is an ongoing issue it can affect your self-confidence, it can cause stress, and contribute to relationship difficulties. Problems maintaining an erection can be a sign or symptom of an underlying health condition or a risk factor for heart disease.
If you are worried about ED bring it up with your doctor. Sometimes you can reverse erectile dysfunction by treating an underlying condition. Sometimes medications or other more direct treatments might be needed.
Signs and Symptoms
Symptoms of impotence include persistent: trouble achieving an erection, trouble maintaining an erection, reduced sexual desire.
If you think you’re having issues related to erectile dysfunction you can start by seeing your family doctor. Reasons to see your doctor include: you have heart disease, diabetes, or another known health condition that may be linked to erectile dysfunction, you have concerns about your erections or you’re experiencing other sexual problems such as delayed or premature ejaculation, or you have additional symptoms alongside erectile dysfunction.
Sexual arousal in men is a complex process involving hormones, nerves, muscles, emotions, blood vessels, and the brain. It can be a result from a problem with any of these physical components. Likewise mental health or stress can worsen or cause erectile dysfunction.
In quite a few cases the cause of ED is physical. Common causes include: high cholesterol, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, clogged blood vessels, multiple sclerosis, tobacco use, sleep disorders, metabolic syndrome, some prescription medications, Parkinson’s disease, alcoholism, Peyronie’s disease, injuries or surgeries that affect the spinal cord or pelvic area, treatments for enlarged prostate or prostate cancer.
Your brain can play a big role in triggering the physical events that cause you to get an erection starting with feeling sexually aroused. There are a number of factors that can interfere with sexual feelings and can worsen or cause erectile dysfunction. They include: relationship problems, stress, anxiety, depression.
Diagnosis and Treatment
There are various risk factors that can play a part in erectile dysfunction including: being overweight, medical conditions, medical treatments, medications, injuries, tobacco use, alcohol use, psychological conditions.
For most men, a physical exam and answering some medical history questions are all that you need to do for a doctor to diagnose erectile dysfunction and select a treatment option. If your doctor suspects an underlying condition might be involved or if you have a chronic health condition further tests or specialist consultation may be required. Your doctor’s priority will be to make sure you’re getting treatment for any conditions that may be worsening or causing your erectile dysfunction.
Depending on the severity and cause of your erectile dysfunction and any health conditions you may have there are various treatment options to choose from. Your doctor will go through the benefits and risks of each treatment option and will take your preferences into account. Your partner’s preferences could also play a role in your choice of treatment.