An erection problem, or, Erectile Dysfunction, is the inability to achieve and maintain an erection during sexual intercourse. It is a common sexual problem. In the mainstream, it tends to affect men over 40 years of age. It is estimated that half of men over 40 will experience erectile dysfunction at least once. Some men can gain an erection during foreplay but lose the erection before or soon after intercourse.
In many cases the problem is temporary due to over tiredness or stress, and will return to normal without treatment. However, if the condition persists, it can damage a man's confidence and lead to problems in his relationship. In this case, medical treatment or counselling from a sex therapist is required. Possible physical causes can include: Heart disease, low levels of testosterone, high blood pressure, diabetes and hormonal problems. Psychological causes can include: Stress, depression, anxiety and problems with a relationship. In some cases, it's just a matter of making changes to your lifestyle. Regular exercise for instance, or losing weight. Stop smoking and cutting down on alcohol. Some men may require medication such as Viagra.
If you are unable to obtain an erection at all, then a physical condition is the most likely cause. If, on the other hand, you sometimes have an erection when you wake up in the morning, or you can obtain one before sexual intercourse, then a psychological problem is the probable cause. An erection requires interaction between your brain, hormones, nerves and blood vessels. A problem can occur if this interaction is disrupted in some way. Stress or depression, even over tiredness can make it harder for your brain to trigger an erection. As can changes to your hormone levels.
So, health conditions that affects your blood flow, nervous system, hormone levels or the physical condition of your penis, can cause erection problems. Common causes include: Heart disease, poor blood circulation, high blood pressure, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease, spinal injury, tumours, low production of testosterone, over-active or under-active thyroid gland, Peyronie's disease (affects the tissue of the penis), medications, steroids, smoking and alcohol. Consult your doctor if you think a prescribed medication is the cause of erectile dysfunction. Do not stop taking medication without first talking to your doctor.
Erection problems can also be caused by psychological factors. These can include: Stress, tiredness, depression, anxiety, relationship problems. Other possible causes can be: Smoking, alcohol, obesity, using drugs. Even cycling can affect the nerves in your penis, if you spend a lot of time in the saddle. Your first step to overcoming erectile dysfunction is to visit your doctor. He will discuss your symptoms, your lifestyle and your overhaul physical health. He may take blood tests to check for abnormal hormone levels. If the problem is permanent, then a physical cause is the most likely reason. If your problem only occurs when you are attempting sexual intercourse with your partner, then this would suggest a psychological cause.
The treatment for erection problems will depend on the underlying cause. If an underlying health condition is identified as the cause, then that condition may need to be treated first. In some cases, treatment for a health condition can resolve the erection problem. Some of the many treatments available today, include: Self Help - Losing weight, giving up smoking, taking exercise, cutting down alcohol use, not using drugs. PDE-5 inhibitors - Are widely used to treat erection disorders, this medication temporarily increases blood flow to your penis. Several versions of PDE-5 inhibitors are available; they vary from being effective for about four hours to some that last for over 24 hours.
PDE-5 inhibitors should not be taken by people with a high risk of coronary heart disease, and should never be used if you are taking medications containing organic nitrates. They can also be a risk to people who have suffered a recent stroke, low blood pressure, high blood pressure. Your doctor will advise you of any risk. Side effects can include: Headaches, hot flushes, back pain, blocked nose, indigestion.
If your erection problem is found to be caused by a hormonal condition, you may be offered injections of synthetic hormones. This would be carried out by an endocrinologist, health specialist. A penis pump is another method used to treat erection problems. This is a simple tube connected to a pump; you place your penis in the tube and pump out all the air. The vacuum this creates causes blood to rush to your penis, the blood is kept in place by placing a rubber ring around the base of your penis; this should allow you to maintain an erection for 30 minutes. If all treatments have failed to improve your problem, then surgery may be required to check for blockages to the blood supply of your penis.
You may be referred for counselling if psychological factors are thought to be the primary cause. This is usually, relationship therapy, where both you and your partner can discuss sexual or emotional concerns that may be contributing to your problem. Your counsellor will also discuss basic practical sex advice so that you may improve your sex life.
This article is intended as a guide only. Always seek professional medical advice to find the best treatment for you.
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