Erectile dysfunction (ED)is the inability to achieve or maintain an erection firm enough to complete sexual intercourse. ED is a very common issue. Symptoms of ED occuroccasionally for just about all men. However, whensuchsymptoms occur more routinely – in 50% of attempts or more– it is time to consult a urologist for a diagnosis and medical treatment.
ED is believed to affect 1 in 10 men over the age of 40 – although it can occur in younger men, as well. The good news is, there are a variety of ways to treat erectile dysfunction, depending on its cause.
Before we go into possible treatment options for ED, let’s discuss nine common reasons why a man might experience erectile dysfunction.
1. Circulation Issues
Your circulatory system is responsible for transporting blood throughout the body. The vascular disease involves a problem with this process. The most common cause of the vascular disease is atherosclerosis, when plaque builds up inside blood vessels, restricting the amount of blood that can flow through them. Vascular disease limits blood flow to the penis and is the most common medical cause of erectile dysfunction.
Low-T is when the testicles don’t produce enough testosterone. A gradual decrease in testosterone production is normal and begins fairly early – at about the age of 30. With low-T, a man might experience a variety of signs and symptoms, such as decreased muscle mass, low libido, and ED. The reasons for low-T include trauma/infection affecting the testicles, hormone disorders, certain medications (such as corticosteroids), an unhealthy lifestyle, and excessive alcohol consumption.
3. Drugs & Alcohol
Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol can cause erectile dysfunction, in addition to the use of certain prescription, over-the-counter, and illicit drugs. Examples of medications that can cause ED to include sedatives, antidepressants, blood pressure medication, and appetite suppressants. Cigarette smoking can also contribute to erectile dysfunction. In these cases, ED occurs because drugs, alcohol, or nicotine impair blood circulation, hormone production, or nerve activity.
4. Medical Conditions
There are a number of chronic medical conditions that can cause or worsen erectile dysfunction. These include diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, multiple sclerosis, high blood pressure, and obesity.
5. Emotional Factors
Psychological issues such as depression, anxiety, relationship problems, fear, embarrassment, guilt, and low self-esteem can make getting and keeping an erection difficult. In addition, performance anxiety can create a self-perpetuating cycle. Once a man experiences it, he may fear it will occur again, and this fear can contribute to future episodes of ED.
High levels of stress can cause ED because it can make it difficult to become and remain aroused. Stress can be about almost anything: money, job, marriage, family, etc. – it’s the psychological toll of the stress that impacts a man’s ability to get and stay aroused.
7. Prostate Cancer Treatment
Prostate cancer treatment, such as chemotherapy or radiation therapy, can inhibit the production of testosterone, causing low T and erectile dysfunction. In addition, certain prostate surgeries can damage blood vessels and nerves.
8. Peyronie’s Disease
Scar tissue inside the penis can cause it to contract and abnormally bend when erect – this is Peyronie’s disease. Depending on the location and extent of the scar tissue, Peyronie’s disease can make achieving an adequate erection difficult or impossible.
While age itself doesn’t cause erectile dysfunction, older men tend to be impacted by a greater variety of ED-causing problems. For example, low T is most prevalent among older men due to the nature of decreasing testosterone levels over time. Prostate cancer tends to occur most often in older men, so they also happen to be at risk of ED caused by treatment of that type of cancer. Finally, vascular diseases and chronic medical conditions that cause ED are all more common in older men simply due to more time and exposure to problems that cause those disorders.
Treatment Options for ED
In many cases, erectile dysfunction is entirely reversible. The treatment required will depend on the cause of the erectile dysfunction. Your options range from conservative noninvasive methods to surgical treatments.
At the most conservative end of the spectrum are lifestyle changes, such as healthy eating, regular exercise, and losing weight, if needed. Stopping certain behaviors is important, as well, such as quitting smoking and reducing the amount of alcohol consumed. Treating underlying medical conditions is also necessary to stop ED that occurs due to various medical conditions. For example, poorly controlled diabetes can both impair circulation and damage nerves – both of which contribute to erectile dysfunction. Additional conservative measures include pelvic floor exercises and counseling/therapy.
A plethora of prescription medications is available to treat ED. The most popular medications – Viagra, Cialis, etc. – work by helping increase blood flow to the penis. If low-T is the cause of your erectile dysfunction, testosterone replacement therapy may be recommended. Finally, penis pumps and penile prostheses are additional methods of allowing men to achieve and maintain an erection.
Solutions for Erectile Dysfunction in Phoenix, AZ
Ask your urologist what type of ED treatment is right for you. Call Ironwood Urology in Phoenix, Arizona, at (480) 961-2323 or request an appointment now. Board-certified and fellowship-trained urologist Dr. Desi Avila regularly treat men with erectile dysfunction and will work with you to find a solution perfect for you. We look forward to serving you.