While it can be embarrassing to talk about (much less think about) erectile dysfunction is a condition that affects millions of men across the country. It typically starts affecting men as early as their 40s and becomes more common as you get older. If you’re concerned, here’s what you need to know about how to manage erectile dysfunction.
What Is Erectile Dysfunction?
Erectile dysfunction (ED) is a condition in which you are unable to get or maintain an erection satisfactory for sexual intercourse. It can lead to embarrassment and an unwillingness to talk about it. Instead, you may avoid sexual situations or activities, which can leave your partner feeling inadequate or rejected.
Causes of ED
There is no singular cause of ED. Some of the most common causes include:
- Organic impotence, which involves the arteries and veins in the penis. It may be related to the hardening of the arteries throughout your body.
- Anxiety or depression.
- Heart disease.
- Neurological problems such as multiple sclerosis or stroke.
- Hormone-related problems such as too little thyroid hormone or too much prolactin.
- Low testosterone.
- Certain medications, such as those used to treat glaucoma, depression, or cancer.
- Excessive drinking or smoking.
Symptoms of ED
Symptoms of ED include being unable to get or maintain an erection sufficient for sex. Other symptoms include the inability to get an erection at all, only getting brief erections, or getting erections inconsistently.
How Is ED Diagnosed?
A medical consultation is required to diagnose erectile dysfunction. Your physician will go over your medical and sexual histories, which can uncover conditions that can lead to ED.
A physical exam can help to determine any issues with your nervous or endocrine systems.
Your physician may also recommend:
- Lab tests such as blood count, cholesterol, or testosterone.
- Testing to determine if psychological factors are impacting your performance.
Many men are embarrassed by the thought of discussing ED with their partners or healthcare providers.
Seeking medical care is essential, however, for getting to the root of the problem.
Your physician can help you understand your ED diagnosis and what you can do to manage it.
How is ED Treated?
Treatment for ED varies based on the root cause of the problem. Some of these treatments include:
- Lifestyle changes, such as reducing alcohol consumption, quitting smoking, or losing weight.
- Therapy, to manage stress, anxiety, or depression.
- Changing current medications that may be causing ED.
- Testosterone therapy.
- Surgical implants, which may be recommended if no other treatments prove effective.
Another common treatment for ED is medications like Viagra and its generic counterpart, Sildenafil. Other recommended oral medications might include Cialis or Levitra. These medications relax smooth muscles and increase blood flow to the penis during stimulation. Your healthcare provider will go over your health history to ensure that they are a good option for you.
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