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Erectile dysfunction (ED) is an extremely common problem, and not just for middle-aged men. If you pay any attention to drug ads or magazines, you will notice that ads for ED medications often show older men, with greyed hair, discoursing about how the medications have led them to feel young again. While it is true the chance of developing ED increases with age, ED can also occur in younger men, and can present itself as unsatisfactory sexual experiences, lowered self-esteem, and decrease in sexual frequency, partner satisfaction and intimacy.
ED is considered as a part of the broad category of male sexual dysfunction, which can include lack of libido, premature ejaculation and so on. In this current era of social norms and a swinging lifestyle, men are increasingly exposed to new partners, new situations and the occurrence of ED. To further understand ED, we should first understand how erections form and occur.
Contrary to popular belief and the common colloquial misnomer, the penis is not a bone. Neither is it a muscle. Rather, the penis is made up of three separate spaces of erectile tissue throughout its entire length, which are two corpus cavernosaand a corpus spongiosumon the bottom. When the brain tells the penis that it is time to become erect, blood enters the erectile tissue via arteries, and the veins that lead blood out of the penis constrict, causing a buildup of blood in the penis. Hence, your erection!
What happens in ED? ED is the consistent inability to achieve erections satisfactory for sex. It can primarily be described as one of these 4 symptoms:
- Erections that are too soft for penetrative sexual intercourse
- Erections that are too brief for sexual intercourse
- An inability to achieve an erection at all, or at times of intercourse
- Inability to ejaculate
So what are the main causes of ED? ED can be due to a variety of conditions, such as vascular problems (which obstruct the flow of blood to the penis, leading to poor erections), hormonal disorders e.g. diabetes and thyroid issues, nervous system conditions, certain medication side effects and smoking. Psychological and emotional problems, such as depression and relationship problems should not be overlooked as potential causes for ED.
However, it is fortunate that now there exists effective treatment for ED, which consists of lifestyle changes, such as losing weight, changing a medication or quitting smoking. Of course, everyone has heard of Viagra, but there also exists a myriad of other pills which work by improving blood flow to the penis during arousal, and can be taken shortly before intercourse. However, any kind of medication should be prescribed by a licensed doctor, as safety should always be of the main concern. Apart from that, pump devices, surgical interventions and implants are further treatment options, which are available in case medications do not do their magic.
To diagnose and treat ED, first there must be an attempt to seek a professional medical opinion. Men afflicted with ED canconsult a sexologist or a regular general practitioner. There is no shame in seeking treatment for a problem which is causing significant distress in your personal and sexual life. A doctor can identify the cause of your ED by asking questions about your symptoms, lifestyle and medical history, as well as performing a complete physical exam to detect any vascular or nervous system conditions. It can also prove as a good check-up of your general health!
All in all, ED is a common affliction among men, and should not be a deterrent to a satisfying sexual and personal life. It is a treatable condition which can improve quality of life, relationships and sexual encounters, and you can take the first step to do that today