Erectile Dysfunction causes a lot of distress in many men who are too embarrassed to talk about it and clarify any issues they may have in this regard. It is a very common problem.
Erectile dysfunction (ED) is also known as Impotence. Even though embarrassing to the individual, it's a real complaint which many men prefer not to discuss - even with their doctor.
This is quite understandable but worrying - especially more in societies where there is little accurate information circulating about the condition.
However, if only we can get men who have this condition to open up to a competent doctor, they are likely to get the solution in a significant number of cases.
Regretfully in many low and middle-income countries like Nigeria, a lot of 'cures' exist in the public space for Impotence problems.
They are NOT real or effective treatments.
Firstly, what causes Erectile Dysfunction?
ED causes are physical or psychological problems.
Physical problems that cause ED:
- Those that directly affect the penis including conditions that cause a change to the blood supply to the penis. Studies have shown this includes conditions like Hypertension, Diabetes and high cholesterol levels etc.
- Those caused by injury to the nerves supplying the penis for example:
- from damage to the spinal cord,
- from trauma due to accidents (including in Road accidents), from surgery or spread from cancer
- Those caused by changes to hormones that affect the function of the penis
- Certain drugs such as those that treat some conditions like Hypertension or Cancer medications.
Psychological Problems that cause ED:
- Relationship problems
There are some other situations that can increase the risk of developing ED - which include:
- abuse of alcohol or illicit drugs,
- smoking and
- long-distance cycling/ regular driving for long periods - lorry/truck drivers
What are the treatments for ED?
Next, to consider treatment, we would need to identify if any of the above conditions are present - either physical or psychological (or both) - increasing the risk of ED.
In conditions like Diabetes or Hypertension or high Cholesterol, there is a change to the blood vessels that supply the penis.
This means the blood vessels in these conditions are at risk of becoming damaged by fat/cholesterol.
When damaged, the blood vessels get harder and narrow affecting the healthy blood flow to the penis.
How the normal male erection happens
In order for an erection to happen, blood needs to flow into the tissues of the penis and leads to the turgid, erect, 'hard' state.
Male arousal triggers blood flow to the penis which sends in the hormone that stimulates all the activity leading to the increase in blood flow.
Normal functioning nerves to the penis and a normal blood supply are both necessary for this to happen.
Anything that interrupts this process can result in Erectile Dysfunction.
Factors that can affect the normal erection.
- Preventing or hindering arousal (e.g. anxiety or depression, stress etc),
- Damage to nerve function ( e.g. trauma from accidents or surgery), disturbance of hormone flow,
- Damage to blood flow (from hardened blood vessels caused by a disease like Diabetes or Hypertension); or
- Drugs that can affect the normal working of the penis
With psychological symptoms, the anxious mind has challenges:
Mostly by a desire to 'perform' well, and so be unable to achieve arousal leading to problems with erection.
Low mood or depression leads to stress which causes reduced libido or desire for sexual activity.
Assumptions When Treating ED.
The main assumption is that there is just one medicine or drug to treat ED.
People should realise that since there are many causes, it is important to speak to your doctor about your symptoms.
This allows us to identify the cause in your specific case.
Treatment will then be based on the cause.
It is important to see a competent physician to manage the problem.
Erectile Dysfunction is treatable in many cases and so men who suffer from this problem are encouraged to seek medical review rather than rely on taking herbal concoctions or other preparations without reference to the cause.
Get in touch to access our free confidential advisory service for any more clarifications.
Editing by AskAwayHealth Team
All AskAwayHealth articles are written by practising Medical Practitioners on a wide range of health care conditions to provide evidence-based guidance and to help promote quality health care. The advice in our material is not meant to replace the management of your specific condition by a qualified health care practitioner.
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