Do you or your partner have erectile dysfunction? Is erectile dysfunction affecting your sex life? In this article, we’ll be talking about the most common causes of erectile dysfunction and how to treat it.
What is erectile dysfunction?
Erectile dysfunction, also known as impotence, is the inability to obtain an erection and sustain it for long enough to engage in sexual intercourse. Erectile dysfunction is a widespread condition amongst men, particularly once you reach the age of 40.
In most cases, the episodes are caused by stress, anxiety, lack of sleep, or excessive alcohol intake. For some men, these can be a single episode that can self-resolve and are often nothing to worry about.
However, if you find that you or your partner regularly have erectile dysfunction, this may indicate a more concerning medical or psychological problem. In some cases, erectile dysfunction may also be associated with other medications you may be prescribed.
How will my doctor find the cause of my erectile dysfunction?
During your consultation, your doctor will take a detailed history regarding your erectile dysfunction symptoms. A number of factors can also increase your risk for the development of erectile dysfunction, and each factor may need to be addressed individually: lifestyle factors which include being overweight or having a history of smoking, excessive alcohol intake, or expillicit drug use.
Your doctor will also want to review your mental health. They’ll look at your anxiety and your stress which can dramatically influence your ability to get and sustain an erection.
For some patients having a hormonal imbalance can play a role, such as having a low testosterone level or suffering from diabetes. Some prescribed medications can also cause erectile dysfunction, such as antidepressants and some antipsychotic medication, certain blood pressure medications, and testosterone-blocking medications which are commonly used for prostate issues.
If you have a history of cardiovascular disease, this may also indicate that the blood vessels supplying the penis are also affected. If you’ve had a history of injury or surgery to the genital area or any conditions which may affect the nerve supplying the penis.
Your doctor will also need to examine you and your genitals. You’ll need to be assessed for signs of hormonal imbalances, nerve problems, along with measurements of your blood pressure and heart rate to assess your cardiovascular health.
Will I need any investigations?
Well, your doctor depending on the presentation and findings from your examination, may consider performing some blood tests. These tests may help identify hormonal imbalances such as low testosterone levels or even help identify other conditions contributing to your erectile dysfunction, such as diabetes.
So, what treatment is available for erectile dysfunction?
Okay, your doctor has diagnosed you with erectile dysfunction. What can be done to help? Thankfully, treatments of erectile dysfunction are effective in the vast majority of patients. However, it is important to recognize that each patient’s erectile dysfunction is likely to be different and dependent on the individual cause.
Where stress and anxiety of the precipitating cause you may benefit from psychosexual therapy. You’ll be given the correct tools to manage your anxiety and stress levels, which should improve your mental well-being and the symptoms of erectile dysfunction.
Your doctor will discuss the importance of improving lifestyle factors such as reducing alcohol intake, stopping smoking, and avoiding drug misuse. Keeping your weight at a healthy level can also be beneficial, and either a dietitian or your own doctor can help you with this.
Where can a medical course be identified?
Your doctor will advise you on the required steps to manage these conditions, such as using medications to control your blood pressure and cholesterol to improve your cardiovascular health, which improves your symptoms of erectile dysfunction.
What about medications?
You’ve probably heard of Viagra, also known as sildenafil, perhaps one of the most famous medications to treat erectile dysfunction. This is a medication that’s available on prescription from your doctor or by your local pharmacy. These medications are taken before intercourse and are effective in around three-quarters of patients.
Can I use a vacuum pump?
Vacuum pumps work by sucking blood into the penis, and there may be an option for a patient who has not had great success with the medications. However, it can be a little bit traumatic and can cause a little bit of bruising.
Are there any surgical options?
Surgical options, of course, do exist in the form of penile implants. However, they come with surgery and their own risks. This option usually is reserved for those patients where other treatments have failed.
If this is something that you wish to pursue and you’ve tried all the other options, you should discuss this with your regular doctor. They’ll probably suggest a referral to a specialist at that point.