Introduction To Erectile Dysfunction

Erectile dysfunction means a man can’t keep a firm erection long enough to have sexual intercourse.

Though erectile dysfunction is more common in the age groups of older men, it is a common problem and may occur at any age.

Having difficulty maintaining an erection occasionally is not a cause for concern. But if your erection problems are ongoing, they will most likely cause stress and relationship problems and then begin to affect your sexual self-esteem. You can read about erectile dysfunction and how you might be able to treat it at home here.

Once called impotence, erectile dysfunction was thought of as a psychological issue or a natural part of ageing. Nowadays we know erectile dysfunction is often the result of physical problems as opposed to psychological problems, and the great news is that men can have normal erections well into old age, even into their 80s.

Seeking assistance for erectile dysfunction is well worth the small amount of effort it takes. There are many treatments available, ranging from sexual psychotherapy to drugs like Cialis and Viagra, all of which can restore normal sexual function for the majority of men.

Underlying medical issues behind erectile dysfunction

When erection problems are the result of an underlying condition like high cholesterol or heart disease, it’s important to deal with both problems. Equally, erection problems must be taken seriously because they can indicate a more serious problem such as diabetes or hyperlipidemia and heart disease.

But just what is Erectile Dysfunction?

Erectile dysfunction is defined in many ways; one is the inability to keep an erection hard enough for sex at least one time in four you make love. But occasional erection problems certainly happen to most men and can be thought of as normal. If you have continual erectile dysfunction check in with your doctor because it may be the first sign of a serious  underlying heart condition that requires urgent treatment.

Male sexual arousal is a very complicated mechanism which involves the brain, hormones, the psychology and emotions, the nervous system, the body musculature and the circulatory system. A problem in one of these systems can produce erectile dysfunction.

Anatomy of an erection

The penis is made up of three sponge-like structures (the two corpora cavernosa and the corpus spongeosum) that run along its length around the urethra. When you’re sexually aroused, blood flow to these tissues increases by several times, and the inflow of blood produces an erection by increasing the volume of the penile tissues and then stiffening the penis.

Ongoing sexual arousal keeps the increased amount of blood flowing into the penis and stops blood flow out of the penis, which maintains the erection. After the moment of ejaculation or when sexual stimulation has ended, the increased blood drains out of the penis and the penis become flaccid once again.

Physical causes of erectile dysfunction

Some time ago, erectile dysfunction was regarded as primarily the result of psychological issues. But even though your thoughts and emotions are an essential part of your penis becoming erect, erectile problems are often caused by a physical, possibly a chronic, health problem or even unwanted side effects of a prescription medication.

The most common causes of erection problems are:

  • Heart disease
  • Atherosclerosis
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Metabolic syndrome

Other causes of erection problems include:

  • Some prescription medications
  • Smoking
  • Excess alcohol intake and other forms of drug abuse
  • Treatments for prostate cancer
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Low testosterone
  • Peyronie’s disease
  • Surgery and trauma to the pelvic area or spinal cord

Psychological causes of erectile dysfunction

The brain triggers physical events that lead to erection; the first part of this process is a sense of sexual arousal. But this can be affected by

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Stress
  • Fatigue
  • Emotional conflict with your partner

The physical and psychological causes of erection problems are not separate. A minor issues which slows your sexual responsivity can produce anxiety about keeping your erection. The resulting anxiety can produce a vicious circle of anxiety and ever-worsening erectile dysfunction.

There are several risk factors for erection problems and erectile dysfunction, including:

  • Ageing As many as eight men in ten over the age of 75 will have symptoms of erectile dysfunction. It’s a natural process, of course, that as we men get older we notice changes in our erectile functioning. Erections require longer to develop and need physical stimulation to get them underway, as you get older, but erection problems are not inevitable: they often occur because of underlying medical problems which need treating. Nowhere is this more true than with low testosterone levels.
  • A long standing or chronic health condition There are many bodily systems which can produce erection problems. These include various conditions of the circulatory system, endocrine system, and nervous system. They include diabetes, cholesterol plaques in your arteries, and low levels of testosterone.
  • Taking prescription medications A large number of drugs such as anti-acid medication, anti-depressants, and medications to deal with high blood pressure, painkillers and drugs for prostate cancer can all be responsible for erection problems because they affect nerve impulses or blood flow to the penis. Certain tranquilizers and sleeping medication may also can pose a problem. Here’s a list of medications known to cause erectile failure.
  • Surgery
  • Surgery or injuries Any kind of damage to the nerves which regulate and control erections may well be responsible for erection problems. Nerve damage to the pelvic area or the spinal cord will interfere with many bodily functions, including the mechanism of erection. And pelvic surgery of any kind may heighten the risk of erectile dysfunction.
  • Substance abuse Chronic abuse or over-consumption of alcohol, cannabis, and certain other drugs will cause erectile dysfunction and possibly a reduction in libido. 
  • Anxiety, depression, and stress All of these emotional conditions can contribute to the development of an unreliable erection.
  • Smoking  This is such a big cause of erectile dysfunction that it deserves to be more widely publicized. It reduces  blood flow to the penis considerably. Men who smoke are very likely to develop erectile dysfunction.
  • Obesity Being overweight – especially obese – is a high risk factor for erectile dysfunction.
  • Metabolic syndrome A condition in which belly fat, unhealthily high levels of cholesterol and triglyceride, together with high blood pressure and some degree of resistance to insulin all conspire to promote erection problems.
  • Prolonged bicycling Believe it or not, it has now been proved beyond doubt that pressure from a badly designed bicycle seat will compress nerves and reduce blood flow to the penis, causing erectile dysfunction and penile numbness. Check this out here.

If your erection problems are not just some short term issue, you should see a doctor who specializes in erectile dysfunction. He will be best placed to work out exactly what is going on, discover why you have lost your erections, and work out the correct treatment.

You may well see erectile dysfunction as a personal issue and let it affect your sexual self-esteem. At the very least, it can be an embarrassing problem, so it is extremely important to get effective treatment. In many cases, erection problems can be successfully alleviated or corrected.

 If the therapy or medication which has been prescribed to treat your erectile dysfunction isn’t working, go back and get a further consultation. It’s unwise to combine medications and therapies without medical advice or to adjust dosages of Viagra.