Erectile Dysfunction

Erectile dysfunction (ED) - also known as impotence - is the inability to get and maintain an erection that is satisfactory for sexual intercourse. It is a common sexual dysfunction and affects around 50% of men between 40 and 70 to some degree.

It’s important to recognize that as men get older, hormone levels and other life changes will affect their level of arousal. Yet ED is a serious medical health issue, as it can affect the man’s quality of life and that of his sexual partner.

What are ED symptoms?

The main one is not being able to achieve or maintain an erection during sex. But sometimes this impotence only occurs with a sexual partner and not for instance, during masturbation or when you first wake up.

And the causes?

In this case, the cause might well be psychological/stress-related. But if you are unable to have an erection in any circumstance, then the underlying cause could be physical. This might include a narrowing of the blood vessels going to the penis, often associated with high blood pressure, high cholesterol or diabetes.

ED sufferers may experience hormonal problems, or surgery or a recent injury could be factors. There is also some evidence that activities such as long distance cycling can produce erectile dysfunction due to pressure on the blood flow to the penis.

What does ED diagnosis involve?

If you are unable to have an erection, you should visit your doctor. There is no need to be embarrassed as this is a common ailment (you could always ask to see a male doctor if you prefer). The GP will ask you about your ED symptoms and overall mental and physical health. They will also want to know about your alcohol intake and whether you take any medication or drugs. That’s because drugs and alcohol can damage blood vessels and restrict blood flow to the penis. Finally, the GP may carry out a physical examination as part of the ED diagnosis.

What ED treatments exist?

This depends on what is causing the sexual dysfunction. If the underlying reason is a health problem such as high blood pressure or narrowing of the arteries, then the doctor will first need to treat these. This then might solve the impotence.

But you can also reduce the risk of ED by certain lifestyle changes such as stopping smoking, losing weight, cutting down on alcohol, exercising regularly, reducing stress and avoiding illegal drugs.

The advice is not to suffer or worry in silence but to always visit your doctor if you have any form of sexual dysfunction. There are many ED treatments and these could be as simple as adjusting your lifestyle or outlook.

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