Among the list of sexual related problems that affect men, erectile dysfunction sits at the top of this list. It is often a worrisome condition for men. Erectile dysfunction in males, also referred to as impotence, is defined as the continuous inability to get or maintain an erection.
While it is natural for men to have erection problems from time to time, it becomes worrisome when it occurs frequently. Impotence can disrupt a man’s sexual relationships and cause damage to his self-esteem, but more than that, it could be a sign of underlying health or psychological problem.
SYMPTOMS OF ERECTILE DYSFUNCTION IN MALES
Symptoms of erectile dysfunction in males commonly manifest in the following ways :
- A persistent inability to achieve an erection
- Constant difficulty in maintaining an erection
- Loss and reduction of sexual desire
- An inconsistent erection (you get an erection when stimulated sometimes, and you don’t some other times )
WHAT CAUSES ERECTILE DYSFUNCTION?
What are the leading causes of, and warning signs of erectile dysfunction in males? It could be due to several physical or psychological problems. Erection is a process that involves the vascular, endocrine, and nervous systems. A problem with any of those systems in the body can cause or contribute to erectile dysfunction in males. In most cases, ED develops when there is a restriction of blood flow to the penis (due to a disease or injury).
It can also be a result of stress or mental issues. Conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, obesity, atherosclerosis, multiple sclerosis, and Parkinson’s disease can trigger erectile dysfunction. Psychological causes tend to affect how the brain processes sexual signals. Depression, anxiety, and stress can all get in the way of sexual arousal and cause erectile dysfunction in males.
WHO IS AT RISK OF ERECTILE DYSFUNCTION?
Although the risk of ED tends to increase with age because of naturally decreasing testosterone levels, this does not mean that period (or aging) is a determining factor of whether one gets ED or not. ED can affect anyone at any age. Several studies have indicated that men with diabetes have higher chances of having erectile dysfunction.
They mostly experience symptoms 10-15 years earlier than other men with the condition. They are also more likely to develop the state as they age. Diabetes has a negative impact on hormone levels and blood flow. It also causes nerve damage which affects the sensory nerves of the penis. All of these complications can contribute to ED. Other risk factors include:
Vascular diseases: Men with vascular diseases such as atherosclerosis have an increased risk of having erectile problems. This is because a defect in the vascular system restricts blood flow to specific organs, including the penis. Without a sufficient flow of blood, an erection cannot be achieved. About 50% to 70% of men with vascular diseases tend to show symptoms of erectile dysfunction. Men with hypertension and high blood cholesterol levels are also likely to develop ED.
Prostate cancer treatment: Men undergoing or who have undergone prostate cancer treatment are also susceptible to erectile dysfunction. The disease itself does not cause ED, but treatment options such as surgical removal of the prostate gland, radiation therapy, and hormone therapy can cause symptoms of the sexual condition.
Tobacco use: Research has shown that smokers are 1.5 times more liable to develop E. D than non-smokers. Smoking causes oxidative stress and vascular damage. It may also reduce testosterone levels in men.
Obesity: Although obesity on it’s own usually does not cause ED, as it is commonly associated with other diseases like diabetes and hypertension, but data from a couple of studies suggest that being obese can solely contribute to erectile dysfunction.
Medication: Taking certain prescription drugs such as hypertension drugs may have side effects that include the inability to achieve or maintain an erection.
IS THERE A CURE FOR ERECTILE DYSFUNCTION IN MALES?
Erectile dysfunction treatments are available, but curing it entirely depends on the underlying cause. Most cases of erectile dysfunction can be contained, and to further explain this, one study found a remission rate of 29% in men with erectile dysfunction after five years.
Whether ED can be reversed entirely or not also depends on the type. Primary ED that is characterized by a complete lack of erection since birth is complicated to treat. Secondary ED, which is erectile dysfunction that occurs in men who previously had no problems in achieving an erection, can be treated with the right medication or surgery.
Treatment usually addresses the underlying cause, and if erectile dysfunction in males is being caused by a disease or health condition, the disease has to be treated for ED to disappear or become a less frequent occurrence. For instance, people suffering from cardiovascular diseases can benefit from regular exercise. For psychologically related causes, counseling and therapy are usually helpful.
TREATMENT OPTIONS FOR ERECTILE DYSFUNCTION
Below are various treatment options for erectile dysfunction, depending on the cause.
MEDICATION: Before prescribing drugs for you, your doctor will have to determine the cause and severity of your symptoms. Drugs commonly prescribed to treat and decrease the symptoms of ED include sildenafil(Viagra), Cialis, staxyn, and Stendra. These medications work by stimulating an improved function of nitric oxide. Nitric oxide is produced by the body to help relax penile muscles, which increases blood flow and aids erection.
However, these medications will not work without prior sexual stimulation because nitric oxide is released only after sexual stimulation. Also, these medications may not work in some men, especially those who have undergone prostate surgery or have diabetes.
It is essential to check in with your doctor before taking any of these drugs or any ED over-the-counter treatment drug, because they may cause problems for people with certain health conditions like hypotension and angina. Also, men who have no erectile issues should refrain from taking viagra and other drugs.
SELF-INJECTION: This treatment method can be administered by the patient, but requires a go-ahead from a medical practitioner. In this procedure, the patient uses a fine needle to inject alprostadil into the base or side of the penis. The injection is useful for just an hour. The infusion can be used in combination with other doses used in treating different health conditions like papaverine.
URETHRAL SUPPOSITORY: This is also known as the MUSE procedure, which stands for a medicated urethral system for erections. In this procedure, pellets are placed inside the penis to aid erection. A unique applicator is used to insert the suppository into the urethra.
VACUUM ERECTION DEVICE: These are tubes with mechanized pumps that are placed over the penis to create a vacuum for blood flow. In this procedure, the tube is placed over the penis, the pump is switched on, and it starts to suck the air trapped inside the tube. Once erection occurs, a ring is worn on the base of the penis to maintain the erection, and the device is removed. The ring is removed immediately after intercourse. However, using this device may hinder ejaculation because of the tension ring.
SURGERY: This involves the use of surgical implants to treat ED. It is not recommended until other treatment options have failed. The implants are rods which are either bendable or inflatable. You can exert a level of control on your erection with the inflatable rods. The malleable or bendable rods keep the penis firm but bendable. Penile surgery may be risky and prone to complications.
Counseling: Counseling and therapy are recommended for men whose erectile dysfunction is caused by psychological problems such as stress, anxiety, and depression. A therapist or psychologist can help them overcome these conditions or guide them on how to manage their symptoms, so it doesn’t interfere with their ability to get or maintain an erection.