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Erectile Dysfunction: What is it?

Erectile dysfunction (ED) is the most common sexual problem men can encounter. Though this can happen to most men, it’s not a topic often discussed.

In simple terms, ED is a condition in which a man has trouble keeping up an erection suitable for sexual intercourse. It is different from “impotence”, as this condition is more associated with the lack of sexual desire and problems related to orgasms and ejaculation.

Occasionally, ED can happen to anyone at any age. This usually happens because of stress and more. But when it happens frequently, this may mean that the person is experiencing underlying health conditions or heart disease.

What are the symptoms of ED?

ED has three distinct symptoms. They are:

  • Trouble in getting an erection
  • Maintaining an erection during sexual activities is challenging
  • Decreased sexual interest

There are also other sexual disorders that are related to having an ED. These includes:

  • Premature ejaculation – having an ejaculation too soon and too fast
  • Delayed ejaculation – needing more than 30 minutes of sexual stimulation before reaching an orgasm
  • Anorgasmia – difficulty in reaching an orgasm even with enough sexual stimulation and arousal.

What are the causes of ED?

The causes of ED can be classified into two main categories: physical and psychological.

Physical causes include:

  • Heart disease
  • Kidney disease
  • High cholesterol
  • Hypertension or high blood pressure
  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • Clogged blood vessels
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Peyronie’s disease (curvature of penis that causes painful erections)
  • Sleep disorders
  • Treatments and disorders on the prostate
  • Surgeries involving the spinal cord or pelvic area
  • Low testosterone and other hormonal imbalances
  • Substance abuse including alcohol and tobacco
  • Certain prescription medications
  • Age

Psychological problems affect your erection capabilities as the brain plays a key role in triggering your response in sexual stimulations. When a man’s brain is clouded with different interference, it can cause or worsen an ED. These causes include:

  • Depression and other mental health conditions
  • Anxiety
  • Stress
  • Relationship problems

How is ED treated?

Medications – your doctor may prescribe you with medications to manage your ED, however, you may need to try different medications until you find what works best for you. The most commercially available medications are oral medications.

Talk therapy – therapy is for managing psychological problems that can cause ED. They can address your issues with stress, anxiety, depression, and feelings about sex in general. If you think that it also affects your relationship, a relationship counselling may also be needed.

Vacuum pumps – these pumps are specially designed to stimulate an erection. A plastic tube is placed over your penis, while there’s a pump that works in order to draw blood into the penis to create an erection. An elastic ring is put in the base of your penis to hold your erection, which typically lasts for 30 minutes.

Kegel exercises – these are simple movements that can strengthen your pelvic muscles. This has been found to help in treating ED, as well as premature ejaculation. There’s no frequency and intensity suggested for an ideal exercise plan for maximum effectiveness, but you can start by contracting these muscles for 3 seconds and releasing it, repeating it for 10-20 times in a row, three times a day.

Aerobic exercises – these can boost a person’s overall health, as well as improve blood circulation, which can possibly help with ED. Doing aerobic exercises such as running and swimming in moderate to vigorous intensity can yield great results.

Erectile dysfunction is a common problem that men face, and there are a lot of treatments available for it. Don’t be afraid to ask your doctor or healthcare provider on how you can manage it, especially if you’re experiencing it regularly. With lifestyle change and proper treatment, you’ll definitely become sexually active again in no time.

Sources:

https://www.healthline.com/health/erectile-dysfunction

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/erectile-dysfunction/symptoms-causes/syc-20355776

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