What is Erectile Dysfunction?
Each year, more than 600,000 men are diagnosed with erectile dysfunction, otherwise known as, ED. This condition affects men of all ages but grows increasingly more common with age. With so many reported cases each year and millions of men suffering from ED, why do men struggle to seek treatment? For many men, dealing with erectile dysfunction can be embarrassing or shameful. They would much rather look past the problem then seek a treatment.
Men often feel alone when dealing with ED. Contrary to this, 40% of men will experience erectile dysfunction before the age of 40 and 70% will by the age of 70. Although erectile dysfunction is incredibly common, men often fail to learn about the causes and what can be done about it. So what is erectile dysfunction? Is it treatable? These questions are common for many men. Here’s a little bit more information on ED and how it can be treated.
What is Erectile Dysfunction?
What exactly is erectile dysfunction? Erectile dysfunction by definition means the inability to achieve or maintain an erection during sex. In other words, the inability to get hard well pursuing sexual intimacy. What exactly does that mean?
Inside of the penis there are two cylindrical chambers called the corpora cavernosa. These two chambers contain myriad blood vessels and tissues as well as a major artery in each. When becoming aroused, your brain sends chemical messages to the blood vessels located in the penis. This causes them to dilate and allow blood flow to the penis. As pressure builds, the blood is trapped in the corpora cavernosa and the penis is kept erect. If there is insufficient blood flow or failure to keep blood inside of the penis, it can lead to erectile dysfunction.
Men often attribute the inability to maintain an erection as a mental problem, rather than a physical problem. But is erectile dysfunction a mental or a physical problem? The answer could be one or the other, or a combination of both!
What Causes Erectile Dysfunction?
Erectile dysfunction can be classified with three different symptoms; difficulty achieving an erection, inability to maintain an erection, and reduced interest in sex. It might not seem like a complex process, but sexual arousal is complicated. This can make it hard to determine a specific cause of erectile dysfunction. Sexual arousal always begins in the brain. You may have never realized, but in order to have an erection, your brain has to send signals that affect your nerves, muscles, and blood vessels. Who knew there were so many parts of getting an erection? If any of these factors of the arousal process experience a problem, it can ultimately lead to erectile dysfunction.
If we were to breakdown the causes of erectile dysfunction into two different categories, they would be mental and physical. Although cases could be one or the other, often times, the problem derives from both. Here’s exactly how both of these causes can lead to problems.
Mental Causes of ED – When it comes to getting an erection, there may be psychological causes preventing you. Most assume that ED is a problem for only older men but recently a study found that 25% of ED cases are in men under the age of 40. You might be wondering, why are young and healthy men experiencing erectile dysfunction?
For some men, erectile dysfunction stems from a history of abuse or sexual trauma in their childhood. Men that had this type of experience can often trace this as a leading cause to their ED and should seek professional help. For other men, there are a variety of other issues that could be mentally responsible:
- Stress and Anxiety
- Relationship Problems
- Depression and Guilt
- Porn Addiction
These all can be contributing factors to ED. The most prominent of these problems is typically stress. Stress can interfere with the brain’s signal to the penis. Another popular issue is anxiety, otherwise known as sexual performance anxiety. A previous sexual experience or self doubt could be a contributing factor in your erectile dysfunction.
Physical Causes of ED – Physical factors that contribute to erectile dysfunction are typically blood pressure and circulatory problems. Health related issues such as heart disease, diabetes, and high cholesterol can all have an impact on your ability to maintain an erection.
Although it may not come as a surprise, drinking has also been proven to have an affect on your ability to maintain an erection. Other conditions linked to ED include Parkinson’s, sleep disorders, Peyronie’s disease, and drug abuse. Medications may also cause erectile dysfunction as well.
It can be difficult to determine what is contributing to your ED, but in the end it’s worth it to find out. This will allow you to research your options as well as determine the best solution for you. How do you determine the causes of your ED? Your doctor may request additional testing if they suspect an underlying health issue. Once a cause for your ED had been determined, here are a few treatment options.
What ED Treatments Are Available?
There are many treatments when it comes to treating erectile dysfunction. The most popular that you have probably heard of is Viagra. Although ED drugs might be the most popular solution, there are many treatment options available.
Erectile Dysfunction Drugs – Your doctor may prescribe one of the popular medications like sildenafil (Viagra), tadalafil (Cialis), and vardenafil (Levitra). These drugs are taken before engaging in sexual intimacy and help the flow of blood to the penis.
Psychotherapy – For psychological causes of ED, one might seek psychological treatment. This can ultimately help determine underlying issues as well as safe and effect solutions to approaching these issues. This treatment is often used for sexual performance anxiety.
Surgery or Constrictive Devices – A more invasive and hands on approach are surgical procedures. Inflatable devices or malleable rods can surgically be placed to help achieve an erection. Vacuum constriction devices are used to create pressure and once obtaining an erection, a constrictive band is placed around the base to help maintain an erection.
Lifestyle Changes – To treat ED, you may be required to change your lifestyle. Pursuing a lifestyle that is more active and filled with healthier options can ultimately lead to addressing any underlying health issues you might be experiencing.
How do you talk to your partner about ED?
It all begins with honesty. What if you aren’t the one with erectile dysfunction? For some men, they are in relationships with a partner experiencing ED. How do you talked to them about ED? Here are a few suggestions to have a healthy and constructive conversation around ED.
How Do I Talk To My Partner About ED?
To many men, erectile dysfunction is a personal problem. Although this might be true, it does have an effect on their partners. ED can have not just an effect on your sex life, but also your personal boundaries. It is extremely important that you are able to feel ready to openly discuss erectile dysfunction with your partner. This conversation cannot take place if both partners do not feel comfortable. It might be embarrassing or difficult to bring up, so make sure you are considerate and acknowledge how they may feel.
It might be difficult to talk about erectile dysfunction with your partner, but ultimately it will allow you to move towards finding a solution for ED. Approach talking to your partner about ED with understanding and the intention of restoring your sexual relationship.
What Do I Do Next?
The first step to approaching erectile dysfunction is understanding it from a physical and mental approach. After you have determined the factors contributing to ED, you and a medical professional can determine the best form of treatment. Erectile Dysfunction is a condition that doesn’t go away on its own and it’s important to know the basics. With more than 600,000 new cases each year, it is also important to know that you are not alone.
If you are ready to take a step towards a more positive and enjoyable sex life, don’t hesitate to consult with your doctor. Inform your doctor of any symptoms you have experienced as well as treatment options you believe might be beneficial. Erectile Dysfunction is nothing to be embarrassed about it’s time to advocate for yourself as well as your sexual health.