For most men, difficulty with erections can be damaging to oneself and the relationship. Despite more understanding about the causes of Erectile Dysfunction, as well as a growing number of effective treatments, many males remain too embarrassed to seek information and medical help for themselves. About 90% of men with erectile dysfunction don't talk to a doctor about their problem and are therefore unable to receive proper treatment.
What is ED?
Erectile Dysfunction is the persistent inability to attain or maintain a sufficient erection for satisfactory sexual activity. Not to be confused with the occasional or temporary erectile failure due to tiredness, stress or excessive alcohol consumption. ED is a long-term, recurrent medical problem needing proper diagnosis and treatment. Dispelling the certain myths about the problem will help men and their partners to fully understand the condition and hopefully encourage discussions medical professionals.
Erectile dysfunction does not necessarily mean a loss of interest in sex, lack of vigor or sterility. In most cases, affected men retain sexual desire and the ability to orgasm and ejaculate. Many people assume that difficulty with erections is not that common and doesn't affect most men. ED, however, is more common than one thinks, with more than an estimated 100 million men worldwide dealing with the condition. Another myth is that ED is a natural part of growing old. Although there is a higher incidence of erectile dysfunction among older men because of age-related conditions, including vascular disease, diabetes and certain medications, it also occurs in younger males and should not be considered a natural part of the ageing process.
Physical Risk Factors:
Although psychological factors play a small role in ED, 70-90% of men suffering from erectile dysfunction have an underlying physical cause for their impotence. ED is a medical condition often caused by the following health problems:
Vascular disorders - circulatory problems that interfere with blood supply to the penis including hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis), diabetes, high blood pressure and abnormally raised blood cholesterol.
Lifestyle factors - smoking, which exacerbates vascular problems such as high blood pressure, alcohol and drug abuse.
Neurological disorders including multiple sclerosis and trauma resulting in pelvic or spinal cord injury.
Surgery (e.g. for prostate disease) and radiation therapy. Some drugs prescribed to treat high blood pressure, depression, heart disease, gastric ulcers and cancer.
Diagnosis and Treatment:
Early diagnosis of Erectile Dysfunction is very important and is usually avoided by men because of the invasive tests involved. Nowadays, the diagnosis of ED involves simpler techniques such as a sexual history, and a medical one. Only standard physical examinations are needed. Laboratory tests on blood, urine and blood pressure can identify the underlying medical causes of ED.
Many men believe that it is futile to seek help for erectile dysfunction due to lack of effective treatment. In the majority of cases, however, ED can be successfully treated by pills, injections, penile suppositories or surgery in extreme cases. Different types of treatments exist depending on the cause of the illness. It is therefore important for patients to seek advice from their doctor, for the good of themselves, their partners and their relationships.