Erectile dysfunction (ED)

Erectile dysfunction (ED)

What is erectile dysfunction (ED)?

It’s been on your mind for a while. Theres an elephant in the bedroom. It’s called erectile dysfunction or ED for short.

“How did this happen to me?”

“Will she be satisfied?”

“Will I ever recover?”

You spend hours seeking information, finding solutions and browsing for the cure. We get it. Every man has a primal urge to find out why their body has failed them.

Read on to find out more about this black fog called erectile dysfunction and what we can do to help bring back your sexual confidence.

Erectile dysfunction (ED) is the inability to achieve and maintain an erection 1. The condition affects over 150 million men all over the world, with 4 million of these in the UK alone.

ED is a very common condition across the globe. According to research in the UK, more than half of the men admit to having problems in the bedroom 2. Furthermore, 43 percent of British men suffer from erectile dysfunction (ED).

Due to the social stigma attached to having erectile dysfunction, many men find it hard to speak to someone about their condition. The symptoms of ED are often ignored. 

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Erectile dysfunction (ED)

ERECTILE DYSFUNCTION?

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According to the same study referenced earlier:

  • 33 percent of men between the ages of 18 and 60 admit they have not told anyone about their erectile dysfunction
  • 23 percent feel uncomfortable broaching the subject of erectile dysfunction with their general practitioner
  • 9 percent have discussed erectile dysfunction with another man in their family

What are the symptoms of ED?

Occasionally, a man will fail to achieve an erection or even have difficulty maintaining one throughout intercourse. This doesn’t necessarily mean that he has erectile dysfunction. However, if the trouble with getting an erection persists, it could be a cause for concern.

Here are the ED symptoms that you should look out for3:

  • Difficulty getting an erection
  • The erection isn’t stiff enough for vaginal penetration
  • Trouble maintaining an erection
  • Loss of libido
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What causes ED?

For a man to become aroused sexually, various systems in the body take part. This ranges from processes in the brain, action of hormones as well as the nerves, muscles and blood vessels3.

If any of these systems experience a problem, it could signal a potential problem with a man’s ability to achieve and maintain an erection. Psychological problems that affect the brain can bring about erectile dysfunction. 

Sometimes, erectile dysfunction is the result of a mixture of psychological and physical causes. Unfortnately ED is considered both a serious mental and physical condition esspecially to those men who suffer from symptoms of ED. 

Psychological causes

Sexual arousal usually begins with mental processes. Psychogenic causes of erectile dysfunction interrupt these processes, preventing the brain from setting off a cascade of signals that end in penile erection.

These ED causes include:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Stress
  • Problems in the relationship

Physical causes

When there are problems with the physical processes that lead to an erection, a man can get erectile dysfunction.

These ED causes can further be classified according to the body system they affect.

A. Vasculogenic causes

These cause erectile dysfunction by impairing the blood flow into the penis.

They include:

  • Arterial insufficiency
  • Hypertension
  • Diabetes
  • Arterial stenosis
  • Obesity
  • Peyronie’s disease – scar tissue in the penis that can cause it to curve
  • Heart disease
  • Metabolic syndrome

B. Hormonal causes

When there is any interference in the way the sex hormones work, erectile dysfunction can begin to rear its ugly head. Other hormones are also indirectly tied to the production of sex hormones. Any abnormalities in their work, therefore, affects one’s ability to get an erection and possibly develop erectile dysfunction.

The hormonal causes of erectile dysfunction include:

  • Hypogonadism – reduction in testosterone secretion by the gonads
  • Hypothyroidism – reduced production of thyroid hormones which in turn leads to hypogonadism
  • Hyperprolactinemia – increased levels of prolactin that lead to hypogonadism

C. Neurogenic causes

Normal erections rely on perfect signalling by the nerves that innervate the smooth muscles of the corpora cavernosa. When this signalling is interrupted, you can have trouble getting your penis to erect. When your penis has trouble gaining and keeping an erection, erectile dysfunction has begun. 

Neurogenic causes of ED include:

  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Stroke
  • Sleep disorders
  • Pelvic and spinal injuries

D. Iatrogenic causes of erectile dysfunction

These causes result from having some form of medical treatment. This can be medication or surgery. Many medical treatments have been reported to cause erectile dysfunction in men. 

They include:

  • Nerve damage during pelvic or spinal surgery
  • Prostate cancer medications
  • Opiate painkillers
  • Antidepressants like selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors
  • Hydrogen blockers

What risk factors increase the chances of ED?

Some of the common risk factors that can cause you to change from normal erectile function to ED include:

  • age
  • a sedentary lifestyle and obesity4
  • smoking cigarettes
  • alcohol and drug abuse
  • diabetes mellitus
  • hypertension
  • peripheral vascular disease
  • hormonal disorders

These are just a few of the conditions and instances that can put you at risk of being unable to develop and maintain an erection. Many of these conditions happen together to cause erectile dysfunction.

What complications arise from ED?

Erectile dysfunction has numerous effects on a man’s life.

These include:

  • Stress
  • Anxiety
  • Embarrassment
  • Bruised ego
  • Low self-esteem
  • Problems in the relationship
  • Difficulties in making the partner pregnant

How to prevent ED?

Some forms of erectile dysfunction is preventable. The main theories of ED prevention is to make better lifestyle choices 3.

This is how to do so:

  • Eating a balanced and healthier diet
  • Engaging in more exercise
  • Quitting smoking
  • Quitting alcohol and other drugs of dependence
  • Engaging in stress-relieving activities
  • Seeking professional help for mental health problems
  • Managing any chronic health conditions like diabetes and heart disease as soon as possible
  • Addressing relationship problems through couples counseling before your ED gets too serious

How is ED diagnosed?

Most cases of ED are easily diagnosed via a consultation with a licenced UK GP or sexual health specialist. You may not require a physical examination to diagnose ED unless it is a complicated case. If you think you have severe erectile dysfunction that is not responding to treatment, your doctor may run some tests to determine if the ED cause is physical or mental.

Some of the different tests that are carried out include:

  • Psychological exam: This is done to determine the state of your mind. The doctor will gauge if you are depressed or if you are anxious. These are all causes of erectile dysfunction.
  • Physical checkup: A physical examination of the penis and testicles to see if there is anything wrong with them structurally. This exam also checks for the sensitivity of the nerves that supply the area.
  • Blood tests: Doctors draw a sample of blood in order to check for vasculogenic and hormonal causes of erectile dysfunction. They will check hormone levels as well as blood sugar levels and cholesterol.
  • Urinalysis: These are tests that are done to analyze the status of your urine. This is done to check if you have diabetes or any other conditions that might affect your ability to get an erection.
  • Ultrasonography: Here, doctors use a rod-like transducer to perform an ultrasound scan on your penis and the surrounding structures to get a clearer picture of the blood vessels leading into the penis.

How to treat ED

When the doctor has diagnosed you with ED, they will proceed to discuss your options. The treatment options depend on what the cause of your erectile dysfunction is.

Here are some of the treatment options to consider in order to reverse the symptoms of your erectile dysfunction:

  • Psychotherapy: When your erectile dysfunction is the result of psychological causes, psychotherapy is the recommended course of action. Counselling can get to the bottom of your depression or anxiety, helping you to overcome ED.
  • Medication: A doctor can recommend oral drugs so that you can be able to get an erection and maintain it throughout intercourse. Examples of these drugs include sildenafil (Viagra), avanafil and vardenafil. A one-pill fits all solution may 
  • Blood tests: Doctors draw a sample of blood in order to check for vasculogenic and hormonal causes of erectile dysfunction. They will check hormone levels as well as blood sugar levels and cholesterol. Other medications are not taken via the oral route. Rather, they can be either injected directly into the tissue of the penis or inserted as suppositories into the urethra. Injectable drugs include phentolamine, papaverine as well as alprostadil. Alprostadil can also be administered as a suppository.
  • Hormone replacement therapy: If your erectile dysfunction is the result of depleted testosterone levels, your doctor can recommend hormone treatments to replace the testosterone.
  • Penile implants and pumps: If medications aren’t doing the trick, you can turn to penile implants or pumps. Doctors surgically implant inflatable or flexible rods into both sides of the shaft. You can inflate the rods so that you penis can become erect for sex.However, this kind of surgery might be too radical for some people. Doctors can then recommend penis pumps. This is hand-operated or battery-powered tube that you slip onto your penis. It creates a vacuum by sucking out the air, consequently drawing blood into the penis to cause an erection.
  • Exercise: Engaging in exercise does a lot of good for your sexual health. Exercise helps you to overcome heart disease and metabolic syndrome. Therefore, it helps you directly combat some of the common causes of erectile dysfunction.
  • Change lifestyle: Sometimes erectile dysfunction is the cumulative result of the way you lead your life. If your life is very sedentary, you are likely to develop heart diseases which cause ED. By adopting a more active lifestyle, you can avoid these complications3. Smoking and alcohol are also indicated as causative agents of erectile dysfunction. You should, therefore, quit drugs, alcohol and other recreational drugs if you are concerned about worsening ED. It’s also good to work through any problems in the relationship rather than bottling them inside you. Dealing with them will enable you to get rid of any tension and anxiety between you and your partner, enabling you to perform satisfactorily when it comes to sexual intercourse.

How can UK Men’s Health Clinic help?

The Men’s Health Clinic Australia is the global leader in the treatment of Erectile Dysfunction. 

At the Men’s Health Clinic, we have made it possible for thousands of men of all ages across the world to treat the symptoms of ED. With the right treatment you can enjoy the sexual confidence you deserve.

With MHC, diagnosis is fast and easy. We tailor the treatment to your individual circumstances, delivering rapid results that are both effective and sustainable. 

So, even if you have ignored your problem for years, our treatments are designed to light up that spark so that you can once again enjoy the thrill of sex in just a matter of weeks.

Unsure if you are suffering from Erectile Dysfunction? Complete our FREE quiz to find out.

References

  1. Lewis, R.W., Fugl‐Meyer, K.S., Corona, G., Hayes, R.D., Laumann, E.O., Moreira Jr, E.D., Rellini, A.H. and Segraves, T., 2010. Definitions/epidemiology/risk factors for sexual dysfunction. The journal of sexual medicine, 7(4pt2), pp.1598-1607. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/j.1743-6109.2010.01778.x 
  2. https://www.atomikresearch.co.uk/case-studies-archive/co-op-pharmacy-erectile-dysfunction-pr-survey/
  3. Yafi, F.A., Jenkins, L., Albersen, M., Corona, G., Isidori, A.M., Goldfarb, S., Maggi, M., Nelson, C.J., Parish, S., Salonia, A. and Tan, R., 2016. Erectile dysfunction. Nature reviews Disease primers, 2, p.16003. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5027992/
  4. Pastuszak, A.W., 2014. Current diagnosis and management of erectile dysfunction. Current sexual health reports, 6(3), pp.164-176. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4394737/

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Erectile Dysfunction FAQ

Though Erectile Dysfunction is very common every man is different, symptoms and sensitivity may vary. Take the MHC symptom assessor to see if you may be suffering from ED.

UK Studies show one in two men in their 30s struggle getting – and maintaining – an erection. Only 28% have consulted their GP and just 9% have discussed it with another family member. What we must remember is that ED is under-reported and under-diagnosed because of men refusing to seek treatment due to embarrassment about being “impotent,” as well as non-specialist doctors misdiagnosing ED. There’s nothing shameful about having ED. There is something wrong if you don’t do something about it. Start with the Erectile Dysfunction Symptom checker to see if you are suffering.

There is a strong association between the intensity of cigarette smoking and degree of ED. Stopping cigarette smoking can improve ED in a considerable proportion of smokers. Ref: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15610111.

Other male sexual health problems can cause or intensify Erectile Dysfunction, including Premature Ejaculation (PE) and Testosterone Deficiency (TD). In addition to that if you are experiencing Diabetes, Heart Conditions or any number of other health issues a consultation with the Doctors at Men’s Health Clinic can explore with you related problems and suggest the most effective treatment to relieve symptoms of each. Start by booking a FREE assessment with MHC .