Erectile Dysfunction: Causes, Prevention, Symptoms, and Treatment
Erectile dysfunction (ED) is the inability to develop or maintain an erection of the penis during sexual performance. Causes include medications, chronic illnesses, poor blood flow to the penis, drinking too much alcohol, or being too tired. Medications that interfere with sexual performance include antihistamines, antidepressants, some diuretics, and some antihypertensive medications. Chronic illnesses associated with ED include diabetes, kidney disease, and multiple sclerosis.
To maintain an erection, blood must be able to flow into and stay in the penis until orgasm. Drinking too much alcohol or taking certain illegal drugs can decrease blood flow to the penis and lead to ED. Being too tired can also lead to ED.
To diagnose ED, the doctor will ask about symptoms and medical history. He or she may also want to do a physical exam to look for signs of other conditions. The doctor may order blood tests to check hormone levels, blood flow, and nerve function. In some cases, the doctor may order an ultrasound of the penis or penile arteries.
Treatment for ED depends on the cause. If the cause is physical, Treatment may involve medications, surgery, or lifestyle changes. If the cause is psychological, Treatment may involve psychotherapy, counseling, or sex therapy.
Men with ED may have any of the following symptoms:
- Trouble getting an erection
- Trouble keeping an erection
- Reduced sexual desire
ED can occur at any age, but it is more common in men older than 65.
ED has many possible causes. These include physical problems like diabetes, heart disease, obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and injury to the nerves that control erections. Emotional issues like depression, anxiety, stress, or relationship problems can also cause or worsen ED.
Many men have a combination of physical and emotional problems that can lead to ED.
To help prevent ED, a man should:
- Exercise regularly
- Eat a healthy diet
- Quit smoking
- Limit or avoid alcohol
- Get treatment for depression, anxiety, or other emotional problems
- Talk to his partner about relationship problems
A man with ED should see his doctor to find out what is causing the problem and get treatment. Treatment might include:
- Medications to help with blood flow or nerve problems
- Surgery to repair arteries or remove blockages
- Lifestyle changes like losing weight, quitting smoking, or drinking less alcohol
- Counseling or sex therapy