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Erectile Dysfunction - A Nightmare For Every Male

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Erectile Dysfunction - A Nightmare For Every Male

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Erectile dysfunction is a prevalent sexual health issue in men, with difficulties in achieving or maintaining a penile erection.

Written by

Dr. Bharat Udey

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Preetha. J

Published At July 20, 2015
Reviewed AtMay 31, 2024

What Is Erectile Dysfunction?

Erectile dysfunction (ED) is a prevalent sexual health issue for men. It involves difficulty in obtaining and maintaining an erection during sexual activity, with a marked decrease in erectile rigidity in most encounters. The prevalence of ED ranges from 10 to 45 percent, increasing with age. For men under 40, one to ten percent may experience ED, while more than 70 percent of men over 70 years report having ED. This widespread concern affects men across different age groups and requires proper management.

Comorbid conditions which can occur along with ED are:

  • Poor general health.

  • Substance use.

  • Medical conditions such as cardiac disturbances, hypertension, diabetes, hyperlipidemia, etc.

  • Psychological features such as depression and anxiety.

  • Other sexual troubles like premature ejaculation, and male hypoactive sexual desire disorder.

What Are the Symptoms of Erectile Dysfunction?

The symptoms of erectile dysfunction may include trouble sustaining an erection where the symptoms are persistent and may include:

  • Trouble obtaining and maintaining an erection.

  • Decreased sexual activity or desire.

What Causes Erectile Dysfunction?

Genetic Basis: Involvement of ACE (angiotensin-converting enzyme) gene and nitric oxide synthase (NOS) gene.

Neurobiological Basis:

  • Diseases or events that cause disturbances in vascularity such as acute myocardial infarction.

  • Ion, cerebrovascular accidents and hypertension can cause ED.

  • Neuropathic conditions like multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, encephalitis, Parkinson's disease, brain trauma, etc., also can lead to ED.

  • Endocrinological disturbances such as hyperthyroidism, hypogonadism, and hyperprolactinemia are also known to cause ED.

Psychological Factors:

  • Performance anxiety, antecedent life changes (for example - divorce or loss of employment), and developmental vulnerabilities are the three common psychological factors associated with ED.

  • Performance anxiety has been referred to as a specific cause of ED. It is characterized by a focus on negative thoughts relating to erectile failure that interfere with sexual stimulation and anxiety and worry about the consequences of failure.

  • Negative attitudes and emotions about sex have also been linked to ED.

Social and Environmental Factors:

  • Status and dominance issues, intimacy and trust, loss of sexual attraction, low socioeconomic status, and lower education are the common factors associated with ED.

What Is Mental Block Erectile Dysfunction?

Erectile dysfunction can happen because of mental blocks, which are emotional challenges that make it difficult to think or concentrate. These mental blocks can also affect sexual functioning. Some common mental blocks linked to erectile dysfunction are:

Stress:

  • Stress, often caused by overwhelming feelings about work or responsibilities, can make it hard to focus and complete tasks.

  • This stress, along with anxiety and worry, might distract the mind from enjoyable thoughts and impact sexual focus.

Depression:

  • Depression comes in different forms and can create feelings of hopelessness and a lack of motivation.

  • Activities that don't bring immediate pleasure may seem pointless, creating a significant mental block that negatively affects sexual desire.

Fatigue:

  • Fatigue, often linked to depression, disrupts normal thought processes and reduces interest in appealing thoughts.

  • Feeling too tired can act as a mental block against sexual interest, affecting sexual function.

Life Events:

  • Significant life events like marriage, having a child, job loss, retirement, and relationship challenges can lead to mental blocks.

  • Unresolved issues from these events may occupy the mind and result in reduced sexual activity.

Side Effects Due to Medicines:

ED can be a side effect of several common medicines, like:

  • Blood pressure medicines.

  • Antiandrogens are the medications that are used for prostate cancer therapy.

  • Antidepressants.

  • Tranquilizers or prescription sedatives are medicines that make one calmer or sleepy.

  • Appetite suppressants or medicines that make less hungry.

  • Ulcer medicines.

What Is Temporary Erectile Dysfunction?

Temporary erectile dysfunction refers to a short period during which a person experiences symptoms of sexual difficulty. The symptoms last at least six months, temporary dysfunction may arise due to a specific medical condition or a treatment's side effects. Successfully treating the underlying condition or discontinuing the medication responsible often leads to an improvement in erectile function. Additionally, anxiety-related issues can contribute to temporary dysfunction. Addressing these concerns and resolving the triggering situations can help patients regain normal sexual function.

What Are the Risk Factors for ED?

Risk factors for ED include having medical conditions such as:

  • Cardiovascular disease or diabetes.

  • Psychological disorders such as anxiety or depression.

  • Overweight, particularly obese.

  • Bearing an injury to or any surgery on the pelvic area.

  • Using certain medications, such as antidepressants or blood pressure medications.

  • Undergoing particular medical treatment, such as radiation therapy for cancer.

  • Using tobacco products, alcohol, or drugs.

How to Diagnose Erectile Dysfunction?

Diagnosis of ED includes self-reporting of difficulties in erection during masturbation, morning erections, and partnered sex, complete medical evaluation and blood work (fasting blood glucose, lipid profile, cholesterol, prolactin, total testosterone, thyroid profile, prostate-specific antigen), manual inspection of penis and testicles, and nerve conduction studies to rule out any organic cause of ED. The other tests include:

  • Hormone Test: A blood test to estimate the levels of male hormones.

  • Complete Blood Count (CBC):To check for diabetes, heart disease, or an infection causing the symptoms.

  • Urine Test: To check for diabetes or any diseases.

  • Digital Rectal Examination: Inserting a gloved finger into the rectum to monitor changes in the prostate gland.

  • Ultrasound: Using sound waves to get images of the penis.
  • Nocturnal Penile Tumescence: Using a battery-powered device to evaluate the nature of erections during sleep.

  • Psychological Examination: To evaluate for psychological disorders.

What Are the Treatment Options for Erectile Dysfunction?

The treatment of erectile dysfunction (ED) encompasses both somatic and psychological measures.

Somatic Measures:

  • Intracavernosal Injections: Direct injections into the base of the penis, known as intracavernosal injections, involve self-administering medications, typically prostaglandins, with a small needle. This method induces vasodilation, enhancing blood flow to the penis and promoting controlled erections.

  • Penile Self-Injections (Papaverine and Alprostadil): Patients are trained to self-administer injections, such as Papaverine and Alprostadil. These injections aid in vasodilation, supporting erectile function and providing patients with the ability to manage their treatment.

  • Penile Prosthesis: A penile prosthesis is a surgical procedure where a prosthetic device is surgically inserted into the penis. There are two types: inflatable implants for controlled inflation and deflation, and malleable implants for constant firmness.

  • Vacuum Pump Devices: These devices create a vacuum around the penis, increasing blood flow to erectile tissues. Vacuum pump devices assist in achieving and maintaining erections, and they can be used non-invasively alongside other treatment options.

  • Hormonal Replacement: Addressing hormonal imbalances is achieved through hormonal replacement therapy. This can involve injections, patches, or gels to supplement deficient hormones, ultimately improving libido and erectile function.

  • Shock Wave Therapy: Low-intensity shock waves are applied to the penis in shock wave therapy. This stimulates the formation of new blood vessels, increasing blood flow and promoting tissue regeneration. This non-invasive method holds promise for improving the condition.

  • Phosphodiesterase 5 Inhibitors (Sildenafil, Vardenafil, Tadalafil): These orally taken drugs inhibit the enzyme phosphodiesterase 5, increasing blood flow to the penis. Medications like Sildenafil, Vardenafil, and Tadalafil are used before sexual activity to facilitate erections in a controlled manner.

Psychological Measures:

  • Brief psychoeducation focused on therapy regarding the physiological mechanism of erection and age-related expectations of erection to be explained.

  • Couple therapy focuses on increasing the communication between couples and resolving relational conflicts.

  • Sensate focus, relaxation training, and cognitive restructuring can also be used effectively.

  • Besides this, weight loss and regular physical exercise also show reasonable responses in mild to moderate cases. Avoid smoking and alcohol consumption, as they also contribute to the development of ED.

  • The best modality of treatment is the combination of somatic and psychological measures to treat comorbid conditions for complete recovery of premorbid sexual performance. Last but not least, ED is just as treatable as other mental and physical ailments. Certain exercises can help with ED, like kegel's exercise, aerobic exercise, and yoga.

What Are the Best Methods to Improve Blood Flow to the Penis?

The blood flow to the penis can be improved by adopting the following lifestyle changes.

  • Exercise Regularly: Engage in activities like walking or jogging to boost overall blood circulation.

  • Eat a Healthy Diet: Prioritize fruits, veggies, whole grains, and lean proteins for improved blood vessel function.

  • Stay Hydrated: Drink enough water to support good blood flow throughout the body.

  • Maintain a Healthy Weight: Avoid excess weight to promote the health of blood vessels.

  • Quit Smoking: Stop smoking, as it restricts blood vessels and hampers blood flow.

  • Limit Alcohol: Consume alcohol moderately to prevent negative impacts on blood flow.

  • Get Enough Sleep: Ensure sufficient and quality sleep to contribute to overall health.

  • Manage Stress: Practice stress-reducing techniques like meditation or deep breathing exercises.

  • Avoid Prolonged Sitting: Take breaks to prevent potential circulation issues.

  • Consult a Doctor: Seek professional advice for personalized guidance on improving blood flow and sexual health.

What Are the Food Choices That Help Manage Erectile Dysfunction?

The following foods have been observed to help manage erectile dysfunction:

  • Dark chocolates.

  • Walnut.

  • Green leafy vegetables such as kale.

  • Watermelon.

  • Cooked oysters.

  • Coffee.

  • Grape or pomegranate juice.

  • Fish like salmon.

  • Olive oil.

  • Limiting the consumption of full-fat dairy, red meats, and processed sugars.

  • Drink alcohol in moderation.

What Are the Complications of Erectile Dysfunction?

Complications from erectile dysfunction include stress, relationship issues, and low self-esteem. Taking steps to address both physical and emotional aspects, seeking professional help, and open communication with partners can be key to managing these complications effectively.

Conclusion

Erectile dysfunction, a prevalent sexual health concern for men, involves difficulties in achieving and sustaining a satisfactory erection, often attributed to inadequate blood supply to the penis. This can result from various factors, including substance use, alcohol, smoking, stress, poor health, and physiological or neurological issues. Additionally, psychological and social factors contribute to this condition. Fortunately, advancements in healthcare have led to effective management strategies. These approaches aim to identify the specific causes and provide tailored treatments, ultimately enhancing blood supply to the penis and improving erectile function for a healthier sexual life.

Frequently Asked Questions

1.

Do All Men Suffer From Erectile Dysfunction?

Erectile dysfunction is one of the most prevalent sexual health-related problems faced by men. A whole multibillion industry is thriving on this problem, marketing various products claiming to improve performance. One in every ten men will suffer from erectile dysfunction.

2.

Does Erectile Dysfunction Last All Life?

Erectile dysfunction (ED) is defined as difficulty obtaining and maintaining an erection during sexual activity. There has been a marked decrease in erectile rigidity in all or almost all (75 % to 100 %) sexual encounters. This condition can be treated.

3.

How to Stop Psychological Erectile Dysfunction?

Psychological erectile dysfunction can be treated in the following ways:
Brief psychoeducation focused on therapy regarding the physiological mechanism of erection and age-related expectations of erection to be explained.
Couple therapy focuses on increasing the communication between couples and resolving relational conflicts.
Sensate focus, relaxation training, and cognitive restructuring can also be used effectively.

4.

Can Overthinking Lead To Erectile Dysfunction?

 
Erectile dysfunction is one of the most prevalent sexual health-related problems faced by men. One in every ten men will suffer from erectile dysfunction. Overthinking and stress can potentially lead to psychological erectile dysfunction.

5.

Can We Still Get Morning Wood With Erectile Dysfunction?

 
It is possible to still get morning wood even after being diagnosed with erectile dysfunction. Though, it should be noted that this is not the case with every individual suffering from this condition.

6.

At What Age Do Men Have Trouble With Erectile Dysfunction?

Men in every culture and society are too concerned about their sexual strength. Performance in the bed is one of the main essential criteria to determine sexual courage. Men after the age of 50 generally suffer from erectile dysfunction.

7.

How Can One Avoid Erectile Dysfunction?

Erectile dysfunction can be avoided in the following ways:
Dark chocolates.
Walnut.
Green leafy vegetables such as kale.
Watermelon.
Cooked oysters.
Reducing coffee intake.
Grape or pomegranate juice.
Fish like salmon.
Olive oil.
Limiting the consumption of full-fat dairy, red meats, and processed sugars.
Drink alcohol in moderation.

8.

How to Treat Erectile Dysfunction Naturally?

 
Keep medical conditions such as diabetes and heart diseases under control.
Do regular exercise.
Maintain a healthy weight.
Focus on eating a healthy diet.
Find methods to reduce or manage stress.
Seek advice if you are experiencing anxiety or depression.
Quit smoking.
Only use alcohol in moderation.
Avoid using drugs that your doctor has not prescribed.
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Dr. Bharat Udey

Dr. Bharat Udey

Geriatrics

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