Erectile Dysfunction (ED) is the inability to keep an erection firm enough to have sexual intercourse.
Men can experience ED as a result of stress or emotional or relationship difficulties, but more consistent ED can be a sign of health problems that need treatment. The risk of ED can increase with age because of naturally decreasing testosterone levels. However, most causes of ED are not directly related to age, but to other underlying medical issues.
One of the forms of ED is impotence, which affects the ability to achieve or maintain an erection, or the ability to achieve ejaculation.
Your doctor can determine the cause of ED with a blood test and physical and psychosocial exams.
ED could be a symptom
While ED is something that exists in its own right, it can also be the symptom of disease or medication you could be taking.
It could be a sign of endocrine disease; the endocrine system regulates processes like hormone production and the effects of this could manifest in being unable to achieve or maintain an erection. One example of endocrine disease is diabetes, which can affect the nervous system and thus whether an erection can be maintained or not.
Severe neurological diseases can also increase the risk for ED. Nerve conditions hamper the brain’s ability to communicate with the rest of the body, including the reproductive system, which can prevent a person from getting an erection. Neurological diseases associated with ED include Parkinson’s disease, brain or spinal tumours, multiple sclerosis and temporal lobe epilepsy.
Certain medication can affect blood flow, which can also lead to ED. Medicines like beta-blockers, central-nervous system stimulants and depressants, and cancer chemotherapy medications can affect the ability to achieve or maintain an erection.
Conditions that affect the heart and the ability to pump blood well can also contribute to being unable to maintain or achieve an erection. High cholesterol and high blood pressure can also encourage ED.
Your lifestyle could increase your risk of ED
To get an erection, a person must first experience what is known as the ‘excitement phase’.
This can come in the form of an emotional response, which means that if there is something affecting emotions, it affects the ability to become aroused.
Depression and anxiety are both mental illnesses which can be causes of ED. Depression is a feeling of sadness or helplessness. The fatigue often associated with depression can affect the potential to feel sexually stimulated.
Performance anxiety can also hamper the ability to feel aroused, particularly if one hasn’t been able to achieve an erection in the past and fears that they will not be able to now.
One of the most common lifestyle factors associated with ED is stress. Stress can be caused by professional, personal and even environmental factors and it is important recognise when you are stressed. The manifestation of ED can be a signal that stress is negatively affecting your body.
The risk of ED is also heightened if your lifestyle is unhealthy. That includes habits like smoking and drinking, as well as a lack of exercise and healthy nutrition.
Preventing and treating ED
If you have, or suspect you have, ED, it can be managed in order for you to have a healthy, happy life.
There are a number of medications on the market to treat ED including stimulants, counselling, hormone therapy and blood vessel surgery.
There are also natural remedies, available, for those who would like to avoid prescription medication. These include acupuncture, ginseng and pomegranate juice. Always consult your doctor, however, before you consider using natural remedies.
Changing your lifestyle can also reduce your risk of developing ED, as well as ease the struggle of managing ED in your daily life. Ensuring that you exercise more and eat healthily are two easy ways that help prevent ED. You should also try and get enough sleep, as well as do your best to manage your stress and anxiety. Keeping an eye on your habits and lifestyle is not only healthy, but also recommended if you want to decrease the risk of developing ED.
Links / References:
Healthline – What Do You Want to Know About Erectile Dysfunction? (August 8, 2014). Retrieved from http://www.healthline.com/health/erectile-dysfunction
Healthline – Erectile Dysfunction and Your Age: Is It Inevitable? (March 26, 2015). Retrieved from http://www.healthline.com/health/erectile-dysfunction/is-it-inevitable#Overview1
Healthline – Erectile Dysfunction in Young Men: Causes and Treatments. (March 14, 2014). Retrieved from http://www.healthline.com/health/erectile-dysfunction/young-men#EDinYoungMen3
Healthline – 5 Common Causes of Impotence. (February 3, 2016). Retrieved from http://www.healthline.com/health/erectile-dysfunction/common-causes-impotence#Overview1
WebMD – Erectile Dysfunction and Stress Management. (September 09, 2015). Retrieved from http://www.webmd.com/erectile-dysfunction/guide/ed-stress-management