Erectile dysfunction (ED) means that an erection cannot be maintained for long enough to have sex. Sometimes, ED is referred to as impotence, although this term is now less widely used. Experiencing ED is not unusual from time to time, especially during periods of stress.
When a man experiences sexual arousal, his penis muscles relax, helping the blood flow into the penile arteries to increase. The penis becomes stiff as the chambers overflow with blood. An erection stops as muscles contract and blood accumulated into the penile veins passes out.
Erectile dysfunction is likely a symptom of an underlying clinical or health issue.
There are several potential explanations for erectile dysfunction, and both mental and physical problems should be considered. Blood pressure and obesity are the most common biological sources of ED. High cholesterol, high blood pressure, heart disease, and atherosclerosis will all affect blood flow to the penis. By destroying the nerves and blood vessels, diabetes also contributes to ED.
Other medical conditions that are likely to cause erectile dysfunction are multiple sclerosis, chronic kidney disease, Peyronie’s disease, and bladder cancer surgery. Additionally, injury to the bladder, pelvis, spinal cord, prostate, or penis, and damage from prostate cancer treatments, including prostate surgery and radiation therapy, have been known to cause ED.
Other causes include, but are not limited to, specific emotional or psychological issues like severe anxiety, fear of intimacy, guilt, being overweight, lack of physical fitness, and depression. Likewise, health-related behaviors like excessive alcohol consumption, smoking, and the use of illegal drugs have also been known to cause erectile dysfunction. In some instances, taking certain medications may cause ED – Antidepressants, opioid painkillers, antiandrogens, tranquilizers, peptic ulcer medications like cimetidine, some cancer drugs, and appetite suppressants are all contributing factors.
Talk to your doctor even though you may feel embarrassed about erectile dysfunction. Treating a simple disorder may be all that is necessary to cure the condition. In other situations, drugs or other direct therapies may be required. The positive thing is that many ED treatments are available, and most men can find a cure for them. Treatment options include:
- Drug Treatments
PDE-5 inhibitors are the group of drugs taken to treat erectile dysfunction, with most being taken half an hour to an hour before sex. The most common is Sildenafil (Viagra), which works by increasing blood flow to the penis. It is useful in combination with sexual stimulation.
Another option is Spedra (Avanafil). The claimed benefit of Spedra is that it takes effect very rapidly relative to other PDE-5 inhibitors. It has fast absorption, and in about 30–45 minutes, it attains a high concentration. In about two-thirds of the experimental participants, sexual intercourse took place within 15 minutes.
The easiest way to treat erectile dysfunction without drugs is with Kegel exercises to improve the pelvic floor muscles. Start by identifying the muscles of the pelvic floor – the muscles used to stop mid-stream when you urinate. One Kegel workout requires you to tense the pelvic floor muscles for five seconds and then release them. Try to replicate 10 to 20 times a day. You may not achieve this initially, but with time and constant Kegel exercises, it gets easier. Within a month and a half, you should be able to see an improvement.
- Vacuum Devices
Vacuum erection machines are a mechanical way to achieve an erection for men who do not like or cannot use drug therapies. The penis is made rigid by a vacuum pump, which draws blood into it. The use of an intervening band stops the penis from losing the erection.
- Surgical Treatments
Surgery is the last resort and is only required in extreme cases. Surgical options are vascular surgery or penile implants. Success rates are high though the recovery duration varies from person to person.
If you ever experience erectile dysfunction, don’t panic. It happens to more men than you might think and is only a cause for alarm if it recurs frequently. Seeking medical intervention to determine your exact cause is advisable. The imperative thing here is to remember that the condition is curable and can be eliminated with the right care.