Erectile dysfunction (ED), also known as impotence, is the inability to get and maintain an erection firm enough to allow sexual intercourse and satisfaction in both partners. If one experiences these situations for over 4 to 6 months, they have erectile dysfunction. One in every ten men will suffer from ED at some point in their lifetime. Experts believe that the number of affected males is higher because the topic is shunned and associated with shame. 

In the past, ED was commonly associated with psychological issues; today, physical problems such as age or health conditions are also to blame, accounting for over 2/3 of most cases. ED occurs as a symptom of another underlying problem and is not considered normal at any age. A high number of men that seek treatment for ED get relieved.

How Erections Work

When you are sexually aroused, nerves release chemicals that increase blood flow to the penis. The blood usually flows into two erection chambers in the shaft of your penis, which is made of spongy tissue muscle (corpus cavernosum). When you get an erection, the spongy tissues relax, which opens a floodgate, allowing blood to rush in, which makes the penis firm resulting in an erection. After an orgasm, another set of nerve signals reach the penis, causing the muscular tissues in your penis to contract, and your erection comes down. It is usual for your penis size to vary with cold, warmth, or worry. This is normal and indicates the balance of your blood in and out of your penis.

Causes of Erectile Dysfunction

Physical and psychological issues can cause erectile dysfunction. If your penis is not getting enough blood supply, you might not be able to gain or maintain an erection.  There are various causes and types of ED. The primary types of male sexual dysfunction include the following:

  • Premature ejaculation (reaching orgasm too fast)
  • Low libido (reduced interest in sex)
  • Erectile dysfunction (difficulty keeping or maintaining an erection)
  • Delayed or reduced ejaculation (orgasming too slowly or not at all)

Physical Causes of ED

The following conditions can result in ED:

  • High cholesterol
  • High blood pressure (hypertension)
  • Heart disease
  • Peyronie’s disease (the development of scar tissue inside the penis)
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Certain prescription medications, including antidepressants, antihistamines, and medications to treat high blood pressure, pain, or prostate conditions
  • Clogged blood vessels (atherosclerosis)
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Blood vessel disorders
  • Nerve damage 
  • Metabolic syndrome (increased blood pressure, high insulin levels, body fat around the waist, and high cholesterol)
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Low testosterone levels
  • Sleep disorders
  • Alcohol & drug use
  • Smoking
  • Nerve damage surgeries or injuries that affect the pelvic area or spinal cord
  • Treatments for prostate cancer or enlarged prostate
  • Injuries that damage the nerves or arteries that control erections

Psychological Causes of Erectile Dysfunction

Men with the following psychological issues may experience ED.

  • Depression, anxiety, or other mental health conditions
  • Stress
  • Relationship problems due to stress, poor communication 
  • Concerns with sexual performance
  • Work-related stress and anxiety
  • Feeling that you’re not good enough
  • Sexual fears
  • Rejection by your parents or peers
  • Childhood sexual abuse
  • Lack of stimulus from the brain 
  • Stress from social, cultural, or religious conflict

Erectile Dysfunction Symptoms

Erectile dysfunction symptoms vary from person to person. Men who have ED might experience the following:

  • Ability to get an erection sometimes
  • Inability to get an erection
  • Lack of sexual desire
  • Difficulty maintaining an erection long enough for sexual intercourse

If you need help, please contact The Gael Center today!

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