What is Erectile Dysfunction?
Whether you are a man or a woman, you have most likely heard of erectile dysfunction. While it is not present in every man, it is not considered an uncommon condition. Erectile dysfunction is defined as the inability to achieve or maintain an erection for a man. This is often an issue that arises when a man and woman are attempting to have sexual intercourse. This condition is sometimes referred to as impotence, but this term is now considered outdated and is rarely used.
While most people know what erectile dysfunction means, what some may not know is that it is a varying condition that isn’t always necessarily permanent or established. There are instances of erectile dysfunction in which it is occasional in a man and not a recurring problem. Many men experience occasional ED during times of stress or other external factors that are affecting their ability to perform. ED can also be a sign of relationship distress and other factors that contribute to erectile dysfunction and problems achieving and maintaining an erection.
Causes of an Erection
In order to truly understand ED, you must first understand how an erection occurs. The science and biology behind this will give you insight into how an erection works and why ED sometimes occurs. ED is a condition that can occur at any point in the erection process. An erection is the process of the penis filling with blood as a result of some sort of stimulation. An erection allows for increased blood flow and as the penis fills with blood, the penis becomes more rigid. An erection ends when the muscles relax and the blood is allowed to flow back out of the penis through the penile veins.
Causes of Erectile Dysfunction
There are a number of possible causes for ED. These include both physical and emotional conditions, among other things. The causes of ED can be complex and a combination of a number of different things. Here are some of the most common causes for ED:
- Cardiovascular disease
- Using tobacco
- Parkinson’s disease
- Multiple sclerosis
- Consuming alcohol
- Drug use
- Sleep disorders
- Prescription medications
- Relationship issues
- Kidney disease
- Low testosterone
- High cholesterol
It’s important to know all of these factors can contribute to ED. However, it doesn’t have to be just one of these factors. The reason for ED can be one, all, or a mixture of each of these factors that each contributes to ED. It is important to consult with a medical professional so that they can get to the bottom of what exactly is causing your ED.
Treating Erectile Dysfunction
If you are suffering from ED, you should know that there are several different types of treatment for ED. Depending on what the determined cause of your ED is, there is likely to be a specific treatment method for that. Here are some of the most common treatments for ED.
Medication is one of the most dependable and effective ways to treat ED. There are a variety of different types of medications that are designed to treat ED, giving you many options. With medications, it is imperative that you consult your doctor to find the best fit, as they will need to prescribe your medication. It is entirely possible that your doctor will need to prescribe several different medications before you find one that works. Here are some of the most common medications that are prescribed for those that suffer from ED:
These medications have all been used to treat ED, and there are more as well. In addition to those listed, Aldprostadil is another medication that can be administered by injection at the base of the penis. As for the rest of the medications, they are usually administered orally or by injection at the direction of the medical professional.
Testosterone Therapy (also known as TRT), is also a common treatment for ED. This is generally recommended for those who have low testosterone and has been used for years with varying degrees of effectiveness.
While medication is often seen as the solution for ED, there are times when medication has actually also been the cause. Some medications, prescribed for unrelated reasons, can interfere with your sex life by causing ED instead of helping it. ED and low testosterone is a common symptom of some of the most widely used prescription medications on the market. You should always talk with your doctor about the prescriptions that you are given if you are concerned about low testosterone or ED as a symptom of your medication, especially if you already have an existing ED condition. If you are having problems with ED as a symptom of a medication that you are already taking, always consult your doctor first before stopping taking your medication.
Medication that has been prescribed specifically for ED can also have negative side effects. You should be sure to consult with and keep an open line of communication with your doctor if you are having concerns about the side effects that come along with any medication that you are taking to address ED or for any other reason. It may be possible to find you another ED medication that can be more effective and carry fewer side effects.
There are times when the causes of ED are not physical, but rather mental. If you think that your ED is the result of a mental state or condition, then one of the best treatments that you can use to address those issues. Here are some of the most common psychological causes of ED:
These conditions and many more can affect your mental state and interfere with your ability to achieve and maintain an erection. Talk therapy can help you to overcome these mental factors and talk through the issues you are having in a productive and constructive manner that is designed to overcome mental barriers. Here are some examples of what you might discuss with a therapist as it relates to issues with ED:
- Stress in your life
- Your feelings about sex
- Subconscious factors and traumatic history
ED is a factor that can easily impact your personal relationships and confidence, and that is why it is very important to discuss these issues with a professional that can guide you through them. If your ED is affecting a relationship, it may be productive for you to visit a counselor that specializes in relationship counseling. This could help you communicate with your partner about your feelings about sex and the issues surrounding ED.
Vacuum pumps are a much more straightforward way to address the problem of achieving and maintaining an erection. These pumps are designed to stimulate an erection through suction. With a vacuum pump, blood is drawn into the penis, which is what leads to an erection. A vacuum pump is a pretty simple device that consists of a few simple parts. There is a plastic tube, which is what is placed over the penis, a pump, which creates suction within the tube, and an elastic ring that creates the seal that allows the pump to be effective and generate suction.
Once the vacuum is full and the suction is created, the elastic ring is designed to hold the blood in the penis and maintain the erection. This is left in place for approximately 30 minutes following the treatment.
Symptoms of Erectile Dysfunction
In order to adequately identify ED when it does arise, you need to know the symptoms. If you are regularly experiencing any of the following symptoms, it is possible that you have ED:
- Problems achieving an erection
- Problems maintaining an erection
- Reduced sex drive or interest in sex
- Premature ejaculation
- Delayed or difficult ejaculation
- Inability to achieve ejaculation
If you are experiencing these symptoms, it is best if you consult a doctor to get an exact diagnosis. It is especially important that you consult a doctor if you find that your symptoms have lasted 3 months or more, as this could be indicative of a long-term issue that needs to be addressed. Seeing a doctor about your side effects can help your doctor determine whether your issues are part of an ED issue or a more minor underlying cause.
Testing for Erectile Dysfunction
If you are experiencing the symptoms of ED, there are a number of different tests and procedures that can be performed in order to determine the true cause of your symptoms. Since ED is a complex medical issue, there are many different things that need to be done in order to confirm an ED diagnosis. These tests and procedures are designed to learn your health and sexual history. More complex tests may need to be conducted to determine if your issues are a result of ED.
One of the first things that will need to be done is a physical exam. A physical exam is designed to point out any obvious problems such as health and respiratory issues. During the physical exam, your medical professional will take a look at your testicles and penis and listen to your heart and lungs. They may also conduct a rectal exam to examine the prostate and see if there are any underlying physical issues that are contributing to ED.
After your physical exam, the next most important test is the psychosocial history examination. During this process, your doctor will ask you a series of questions or have you fill out a questionnaire that is designed to learn about your symptoms, health history, and sexual history. The responses that you give on this exam will help your doctor to determine the severity of what you are dealing with and contribute to finding a treatment plan that works for you.
Here are some of the questions that you may be asked during this stage of your exam:
- How long have you been experiencing symptoms?
- Are you having problems having sex?
- Do you have difficulty achieving or maintaining an erection?
- How firm are your erections?
- How often do you have sex?
- Are there any current issues in your relationship?
- Do you wake up in the morning with erections?
- Do you currently have a lot of stress?
- Are you on any medications?
- Do you have any health conditions in the pelvic area?
These are just some examples of the questions that may be asked. These questions are designed to learn much more about your health and sexual life so that your medical professional can provide you with a proper diagnosis and advice.
In some cases, just a physical exam and a targeted line of questioning are not enough to learn the cause of your ED. In that case, more tests must be done. There are a set of tests that are commonly used for patients with ED that are designed to narrow down the cause of ED and gain a diagnosis. Here are some of the most common tests that are used in addition to the physical and mental exam.
While many people think of an ultrasound as something that is exclusively used to examine pregnant women, an ultrasound can be used for a variety of different medical reasons. Ultrasounds are commonly used to examine the blood vessels within the penis. This helps the medical staff to determine if there is a problem with penile blood flow by giving them access to the veins and vessels that carry blood to and from the penis.
Nocturnal Penile Tumescence Test
This is a battery-powered device that is very discreet and portable. This device attaches to the thigh as you sleep and it is designed to measure any nocturnal erections. It evaluates the quality of the erection. The data that it collects is stored within the device and is read and accessed by the doctor at a later date so that it can be assessed.
In this test, a special solution is injected into your penis to stimulate an erection. This allows the doctor or medical professional to evaluate the strength and quality of the erection and diagnose any problems that you may be having maintaining an erection. The doctor will also evaluate how long the erection lasts.
A urine test is a simple test that is designed to test you for any diseases or illnesses that you may have. Underlying health conditions are a common cause of ED and the related symptoms. Most of the time, a urine test is used to test for diabetes.
Blood tests are another test that is used to test for any underlying health conditions that may be causing your ED and related symptoms. Some of the conditions that are tested for in a blood test are diabetes, heart disease, thyroid problems, and low testosterone.
With these various tests in hand, your doctors and medical staff will have all of the information and data that they need to properly diagnose and treat you for whatever you are going through with your ED.
Exercises for Erectile Dysfunction
There are certain exercises that can be done to help with erectile dysfunction. The draw to these exercises is that they are not considered medication and thus are considered slightly safer to use as a means of achieving a healthier testosterone level and stronger erections. Here are some of the most common erectile dysfunction exercises that can help treat your problems holistically.
Kegel exercises are a very effective exercise that can be done that is designed to strengthen the muscles in your pelvic floor. This exercise is done by flexing the pelvic floor muscles in intervals throughout the day. This exercise is most effective when done 10 to 20 times in a row in three separate times throughout the day.
The benefit of Kegel exercises is proven by science. A study that was conducted in 2005 shows that ED was able to be improved significantly by doing Kegel exercises over a period of 3 months. This was in contrast to a second group, which was not taught to do Kegel exercises. The group with no Kegel exercises saw very little improvement over 3 months while the group that was taught was able to achieve very good results and improvement.
Another study, conducted in 2019, confirmed these findings and stated that pelvic floor exercises were effective in helping to treat both ED and premature ejaculation conditions. If you are looking to help treat ED with pelvic floor exercises, you should know that it is best if you do them while lying down at first. Once you grow accustomed to the exercise, you can do them either sitting or standing.
Another type of exercise that you can do to help improve ED and the symptoms that come along with ED. Aerobic exercise refers to moderate to vigorous exercises that are usually very simple and easy to do in your own home. These exercises are good for your general health, but staying active and fit is also very helpful with ED. Some examples of aerobic exercises are running and swimming.
There have been many studies over the years that have found that aerobic exercises and leading a healthy active lifestyle are very beneficial to ED health. As it relates to ED, it has been found that 160 minutes of exercise on a weekly basis over a period of 6 months is ideal for the best results for those looking to improve conditions related to ED.
If you are considering using aerobics to combat the effects of ED, you should still consult with your doctor to learn about what exercises would be best for your situation and whether your specific type of ED and your side effects are suitable candidates to be improved by aerobics.
As we have already touched on, physical exercise and general physical fitness are very good and helpful for anyone going through ED. Not only can yoga help you to get in the physical activity you need to live an active lifestyle, but yoga can also help you to balance your mind and achieve a more wholesome life. Stress and anxiety are two of the most common factors in causing ED, and balancing your moods and mind with yoga is a great way to combat those. Practicing yoga can help to put your mind at ease and reduce the stress that surrounds ED and the related side effects.
Best Foods for Erectile Dysfunction
As it turns out, exercises and medical treatments are not the only things that you can do to help with ED. There are foods that you can eat and focus on to help with sexual function and blood flow. Along with getting regular exercise, you should also seek to build a healthy and wholesome diet that contains all of the nutrients you need to maintain healthy blood flow in the penile region. Here are some handy tips that you can use to eat a healthier diet that is optimized for erectile health:
- Eat many grains, veggies, and fruits
- Reduce consumption of red meat, processed sugar, and fatty dairy
- Reduce alcohol consumption
Erectile Dysfunction is a complicated and often stressful condition in which a man has problems achieving and maintaining an erection. This problem is often attributed to low testosterone, but could also be caused by dozens of other factors, and even different combinations of all of those factors. In order to be able to effectively deal with and treat erectile dysfunction, you need to know as much information as possible. Now that you know what erectile dysfunction is, how it can be treated, what causes it, and what you can do at home to help with ED, you can effectively manage ED and the challenges that come with it. There are a variety of treatment methods that can be used for ED that range from medical to holistic. The best way to treat ED is to work closely with your medical professional to determine the right mix of medication, exercises, and lifestyle changes to address the underlying causes of ED.