What is erectile dysfunction?
Erectile dysfunction, also known as impotence, is an inability to get and hold an erection firm enough for sex.
Experiencing problems with erection from time to time isn’t a reason for concern. Though, if you constantly encounter erectile dysfunction, it may lead to stress, contribute to relationship problems or/and affect your self-confidence. Moreover, erectile dysfunction may be a sign of underlying health problems that need to be treated.
Symptoms of erectile dysfunction
- Experiencing troubles in getting an erection
- Hard to keep an erection
- Lack of sexual desire
If you are experiencing erectile dysfunction, first of all, you should consult with a family doctor. You need to see a doctor if:
- You experience erection problems, or you encounter other sexual issues, such as ejaculation dysfunction, including delayed or premature ejaculation.
- You have any of the health conditions that may be related to erectile dysfunction. Such health conditions include heart diseases, diabetes, etc.
- You are experiencing other symptoms aside from erectile dysfunction.
Causes of erectile dysfunction
Erection is a complex process. In order to stimulate male sexual arousal, the brain, blood vessels, emotions, hormones, nerves and muscles have to work together. The issues with any of these components may result in erectile dysfunction. Also, mental health concerns or stress may contribute to or worsen erectile dysfunction.
In some cases, a combination of psychological and physical problems may lead to erectile dysfunction. For example, an insignificant physical condition may contribute to a slower sexual response that, in turn, can cause concerns about erection maintenance. As a result of this anxiety, erectile dysfunction may develop or get worse.
Physical causes of erectile dysfunction
Typically, erectile dysfunction is caused by some physical conditions. Such conditions include:
- High cholesterol level.
- Heart diseases.
- High blood pressure.
- Parkinson’s disease.
- Atherosclerosis (clogged blood vessels).
- The abuse of alcohol and other substances.
- The use of tobacco.
- Problems with sleep.
- Metabolic syndrome. It is a condition that involves high insulin levels, high cholesterol, elevated blood pressure and body fat around the waist.
- Peyronie’s disease. It is the development of scar tissue inside the penis.
- Multiple sclerosis.
- Certain prescription medications.
- Surgical procedures or injuries that affect the pelvis or spinal cord.
- Treatment of prostate cancer or enlarged prostate.
Psychological causes of erectile dysfunction
Brain activity plays a crucial role in starting the sequence of physical events that lead to an erection. It begins with feelings of sexual arousal. Some mental and emotional issues may interfere with sexual feelings and contribute to or worsen erectile dysfunction. Such psychological factors include:
- Certain mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety.
- Relationship problems caused by stress, poor communication, or other factors.
With aging, you might find that erections take longer to develop and harder to hold. To get and keep the erection, you may need a more direct touch to your penis.
Some factors may contribute to erectile dysfunction, including:
- Tobacco use restricts blood flow to arteries and veins and, with time, may cause certain chronic health conditions which contribute to erectile dysfunction.
- Medications, such as antihistamines, antidepressants, and medications to treat elevated blood pressure, pain or prostate conditions.
- Injures, especially if they affect or damage nerves or arteries that control erection.
- Medical conditions, especially heart conditions or diabetes.
- Medical treatments, such as radiation treatment for prostate cancer or surgical treatment of prostate enlargement.
- Being overweight, particularly if you have obese.
- Consumption of alcohol and drugs, especially if you abuse such substances.
- Physiological conditions, such as depression, anxiety or stress.