Erectile dysfunction (ED) is a distressing condition that affects up to 30 million men across the United States, particularly those over the age of 65. ED is when a man is unable to achieve or maintain an erection that is firm enough for sex.
Although it is not uncommon for men to have erection issues from time to time, it may turn into erectile dysfunction if it becomes a more frequent problem. ED can be caused by a number of medical conditions, and oftentimes treating the underlying condition is enough to reverse ED. In other cases, direct treatment may be required to manage it successfully.
Sexual arousal in men is a complex process involving the brain, hormones, blood vessels, nerves, muscles, and emotions – and if there is a problem in any of these areas, it can result in erectile dysfunction. ED is most commonly caused by an underlying medical condition, but stress and mental health problems can also cause or exacerbate the issue. Sometimes a combination of physical and psychological issues can be the overall cause of ED, and a skilled urologist will be able to get to the precise cause of the issue.
What Causes ED?
Some of the most common underlying medical conditions that can cause or contribute to erectile dysfunction include the following:
Health issues that are rooted in the heart and blood flow, such as heart disease, high cholesterol, hypertension (high blood pressure), and atherosclerosis (often called hardening of the arteries), can cause ED. If there is not sufficient blood flow to the penis, it can prevent the man’s ability to achieve an erection.
Likewise, high blood pressure prevents the arteries from dilating properly. This means not enough blood flows into the penis to make it erect.
High cholesterol can lead to a buildup of a fatty substance (known as atheroma) in the arteries, which can cause them to narrow. This makes it difficult for blood to pass through, which leads to erectile dysfunction.
Being overweight or obese can also damage the blood vessels and cause elevated cholesterol levels and blood pressure. These can all lead to ED.
The endocrine system is a network of glands and organs that regulate and control various body functions, such as metabolism and reproduction, by producing and secreting hormones. Endocrine disorders can cause the body to produce too much or too little of a hormone, thereby leading to a hormone imbalance – and some of these hormonal abnormalities can cause erectile dysfunction.
Endocrine diseases such as diabetes (which affects the body’s ability to produce or use insulin correctly) and hypogonadism (which diminishes the production of testosterone) can cause ED by impairing vascular function and/or blood supply. This causes nerve damage and can interfere with the production of nitric oxide, which is an important signaling molecule found naturally in the body that plays an important role in proper erectile function.
Neurological and Nerve Disorders
Damage to the nerves as caused by medical conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, a brain tumor, multiple sclerosis, and stroke can affect the brain’s ability to communicate with various parts of the body. If this communication is stifled in the reproductive system, it can prevent a man’s ability to achieve an erection.
Men’s Health in Phoenix, AZ
If you have ED, speak to experienced urologist Dr. Desi Avila at Ironwood Urology for an evaluation and diagnosis. Dr. Avila will get to the root of the problem and help you choose the treatment option that is best for you.
To make an appointment or to find out more about the services we offer, call us today at (480) 961-2323 or request an appointment via our online form. We look forward to seeing you at either of our convenient locations in Phoenix and Gilbert.