Erectile dysfunction (ED) or impotence is a condition wherein a man experiences inability to achieve and maintain an erection for a satisfying sexual experience. Erectile dysfunction commonly occurs in elderly people because the erectile capacity decreases with age.

Causes

Erectile dysfunction may occur when: the blood vessels going to the penis become blocked or narrowed, there is an interference with the nervous system that triggers erection, or when there is a reduced libido.

Certain diseases may cause blockage or narrowing of the blood vessels, such as:

  • Diabetes
  • Hypertension
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Nerve damage
  • Hormonal imbalances
  • Atherosclerosis
  • Heart diseases

Unhealthy lifestyle choices also predispose an individual to have erectile dysfunction. A person is more likely to develop erectile dysfunction if he is: obese, alcoholic, smoking or abusing drugs. Medications may also cause erectile dysfunction as its side effects like with: antihypertensives, antipsychotics, antidepressants, and tranquilizers.

Psychological causes can play a part in the occurrence of erectile dysfunction. People suffering from stress, fear, gloom, uncertainties, sadness or problems in the relationship can suffer from erectile dysfunction. Often, erectile dysfunction is caused by a combination of physical and psychologic causes.

Symptoms

A person who suffers from erectile dysfunction may experience symptoms that include:

  • Difficulty getting an erection
  • Inability to maintain an erection
  • Decreased libido or sexual desire

Prevention

Lifestyle modifications are the least invasive type of treatment for erectile dysfunction. Healthy lifestyle choices that can help relive erectile dysfunction are to:

  • Stop smoking
  • Drink alcohol moderately
  • Lose weight when you’re overweight
  • Stay away from substance abuse
  • Be physically active

Treatment

Erectile dysfunction caused by medication can be treated by replacing or cutting back the medication, under guidance of a physician.

Psychotherapy is used to treat erectile dysfunction caused by stress and anxiety. It is also important to talk with your partner about your complaints.

Medication like phosphodiesterate inhibitors and testosterone can also be utilized. These medications can only be taken orally, injected directly to the penis, or inserted into the tip of the penis. Your general practitioner can give you more information about the disorder and its possible treatments.

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