Erectile dysfunction (ED) is a medical condition whereby the affected man has consistent difficulties achieving or maintaining a firm erection sustainable enough to make a successful sexual penetration. Most men on few occasions may have experienced some difficulties in sustaining a strong and firm erection to achieve sexual penetration, but this does not necessarily mean that he suffers from an erectile dysfunction. It is considered a matter of concern when this symptom persists on several occasions for over a period of time. This condition is a very common condition among men, particularly older men. Researchers have estimated that over half of men between the ages of 40 to 70 at one point suffer from erectile dysfunction.
The causes of erectile dysfunction can better be understood from the knowledge of how erection takes place physically. During intercourse, the brain of a man sends signals to the nerves in the penis, the nerves then in turn allows the blood flow into the penis creating increase in the tissue pressure and bringing the penis to an erection. The erected penis persists until the end of the stimulation or ejaculation. The normal erectile function can be affected if anything interferes with the nervous system, blood flow or changes in the hormone levels resulting from psychological condition, which can all result to erectile dysfunction.
Physical causes of erectile dysfunction are of four major types:
- Neurogenic - which is the condition resulting from nervous system such as brain, nerves and spinal cord. Example includes: spinal injuries or disorder, stroke (when the flow of blood to the brain is interrupted), Parkinson’s disease (when brain’s coordination of body movement is affected such as walking or talking).
- Vasculogenesis - this is the condition affecting the blood flow into the penis. Example includes: a heart disease or blood vessels disease such as atherosclerosis which causes hardening of the arteries, diabetes is also a major contributor of erection dysfunction, and high blood pressure.
- Hormonal – any condition affecting the hormone levels for example: hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism which is the condition where there is too much production of thyroid hormone and where there is too low production of thyroid hormone respectively. Other examples are Cushing’s syndrome which affects the production of cortisol hormone and hypogonadism which is the medical condition that affects production of testosterone, male sex hormone.
- Anatomical – refers to the effect from the physical structure of the penis, this could also occur as a result of injuries sustained or surgical problem.
Psychological problems can sometimes cause erectile dysfunction. In some case it can be found that both physical and psychological problem contributes to erectile dysfunction of some patients.
The psychological problems include:
- Sexual abuse
- Bad sexual experience or other sexual problems
- Relationship problem
Many people find it embarrassing to go for diagnose. But it is very important to go consult your doctor for diagnosis at the early stage once you start noticing some of the symptoms. Your doctor will identify the cause after series of physical examination and tests. You may as well have to answer some questions based on your symptoms. The best way erectile dysfunction is treated is by tackling the root of the problem, be it physical or psychological. Your doctor will prescribe the best treatment for you based on the result drawn from your diagnosis. There has been numbers of successful treatment of erectile dysfunction reported and the success rate has increased significantly over the resent years.