Erectile dysfunction (ED), also known as impotence, is the inability to achieve and maintain an erection hard enough for sex. A study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine suggests that the average patient with erectile dysfunction is 40 years old.
The research further states that one in every four men seeks help for ED at an outpatient clinic. The Cleveland Clinic says that as many as 52% of men below 40 years experience ED. This number rises to 70% of men aged 70 years and above. Men diagnosed with conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, or who are taking certain drugs have a higher risk of developing ED.
Test and diagnosis
To treat erectile dysfunction, it is important to identify the underlying cause. In many cases, ED goes beyond the inability to have an erection. It may be an indication of an underlying condition that needs treatment. Erectile dysfunction diagnosis includes:
- Physical Test – This entails a thorough examination of the penis and testicles as well as the nerves for sensation.
- Blood Exam – This involves checking a blood sample for signs of heart disease, low testosterone, or diabetes.
- Urinalysis – These are urine tests done to look for signs of an underlying condition.
- Ultrasound – This involves the use of a device known as a transducer that is held over the vessels that supply blood to the penis. The device transmits a video image that allows the doctor to detect if the patient has blood flow problems.
- Psychological Tests – The doctor may ask questions to determine if the patient has other psychological issues.
Preparing for your appointment
Appointments for erectile dysfunction can be lengthy because there are a lot of areas to cover. It is, therefore, important to be adequately prepared. Before you head for an appointment:
- Be well acquainted with what you need to know.
- Write down the symptoms you’ve been experiencing
- Write down your personal information
- Make a list of all the medications you’ve been taking.
Some of the questions you should expect from the doctor include:
- Do you have any chronic conditions?
- Have you had sexual problems?
- Are you anxious, stressed, or depressed?
- Do the erectile problems occur once in a while or are they a regular occurence?
- When did you first notice the problem?
Treatment and drugs
Erectile dysfunction treatment starts with the doctor ensuring that you are treated for any underlying condition that may be causing the problem. The treatment options may vary depending on the severity of your condition. Your partner’s preference may also determine the treatment choice. Erectile dysfunction treatment includes:
Oral Medications – These have been used to treat ED in many men successfully. Oral medications work by selectively stopping the activity of an enzyme known as Phosphodiesterase that prevents an erection. By inhibiting the activities of Phosphodiesterase, the oral medications for ED help boost the activities of Nitric Oxide, a chemical that occurs naturally when arousal is initiated; thus, the user can have and maintain an erection. They include:
Other options for treating ED include:
- Penile implants
- Blood vessel surgery
- Use of penis pumps
- Replacement of testosterone
- Alprostadil self-injection
- Alprostadil urethral suppository
Lifestyle and Home Remedies
Lifestyle choices aggravate erectile dysfunction in many men. Some of the lifestyle changes that might help improve the condition include:
- Quitting smoking – Get help if you have trouble quitting or use nicotine replacements such as over the counter gum or lozenges
- Losing the extra weight – Excessive weight can cause or aggravate erectile dysfunction
- Embarking on a regular exercise regimen – Regular exercises can help with underlying issues. For instance, it can contribute to reducing stress and increase blood flow
- Getting treatment for alcohol and drugs problems – Too much intake of alcohol or use of certain illegal drugs can worsen erectile dysfunction or cause chronic conditions.
- Working through relationship problems through counseling