What is erectile dysfunction (also commonly known as ED)?
It is a condition that affects a man’s ability to achieve/maintain an erection, or their ability to ejaculate.
There can be a number of contributing factors, and they include both physical and psychological disorders. The Merck Manual states statistics showing that 50% of men, aged 40-70, will be effected by erectile dysfunction at some point in their lives. Additionally, men that are more educated are less likely to be effected, this is believed to be due to having healthier lifestyles.
Erectile dysfunction doesn’t just have a negative impact on sex life, but also creates additional stress, can contribute to low self-esteem, and depression.
The most common causes of erectile dysfunction are as follows:
Endocrine Diseases: The endocrine system is responsible for producing hormones that regulate mood, reproduction, metabolism, and sexual function. One of those endocrine diseases that can have a contributing factor in ED is diabetes. It affects the body’s capability of using the hormone insulin. A side effect of chronic disease is nerve damage, which affects penis sensation. Additionally, diabetics experience impaired hormone levels and blood flow, which contribute to ED.
Neurological Disorders: Severe conditions can increase the risk of ED. Nerve conditions affect the ability of the brain to communicate with the reproductive system. This can lead to difficulty in gaining an erection. The neurological disorders that are associated with impotence are: Parkinson’s, brain tumors, Alzheimer’s, spinal tumors, Multiple Sclerosis, strokes, temporal lobe epilepsy.
Cyclists that ride for long distances can also experience temporary ED due to the constant pressure on the genitals and buttocks, it can affect nerve function.
Medications: There are a number of medications which affect blood flow, thus may lead to ED. However, even if your medication is causing impotence, you should not stop taking your medication without speaking to your doctor first. These medications include: beta-blockers, chemotherapy medications, alpha-adrenergic blockers, depressants, diuretics, central nervous system stimulants, synthetic hormones, and serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).
Heart conditions: Heart problems affect the ability to pump blood, and that can cause ED. If there isn’t enough blood flow to the penis, then it will be difficult to achieve erection. Additionally, the condition atherosclerosis can cause clogged blood vessels, high blood pressure and high cholesterol also increase the risk of ED.
Emotional Disorders & Lifestyle Factors: In order to achieve an erection, the excitement phase is necessary, this requires an emotional response. Anxiety and depression are linked with ED, because they leave you with feelings of helplessness, sadness and a loss of hope.
It is also possible that performance anxiety can lead to ED. If a man has been unable to achieve erection in the past, he may live in fear that this will happen again.
Drug abuse and alcoholism can also cause ED, if you think you have a substance abuse problem you should speak with your doctor immediately.
If you are suffering from erectile dysfunction you should see your doctor, as there are medications and lifestyle changes that can improve your sex life.
Other causes include: obesity, scar tissue inside the penis, tobacco, sleep disorders, spinal injuries, spinal surgeries, relationship problems, and stress.