While many men may have heard of the term erectile dysfunction (ED), millions of men have actually experienced it. In fact, it’s estimated that around 30 million men in the United States are affected by erectile dysfunction .
Sometimes referred to as impotence, erectile dysfunction occurs when a man is unable to get and/or keep an erection firm enough for intercourse. Although it’s common to experience erection problems every now and again due to tiredness, stress, or even too much alcohol - if it happens often, the cause might be slightly more complex; which according to Harvard Health is the case for around 75% cases of men experiencing ED.
Common symptoms of erectile dysfunction include:
- Difficulty maintaining an erection during intercourse or other sexual activities
- Trouble getting an erection
- Reduced interest in sex
What are the main causes of erectile dysfunction?
It’s important to remember that sexual function in both men and women is a complex process! Stress, mental health issues or even having a hard day at work might affect a man’s libido and may make it difficult to get and/or keep an erection and impact erectile function.
In saying that, if this occurs consistently, it may be a result of a physical health condition. These are some of the common ED causes.
Erectile dysfunction may sometimes be an early warning sign of heart problems. Blood flow to the penis is essential for an erection and when the inner lining of the blood vessels is damaged, inadequate blood supply to the heart, and the penis, may occur, making it pretty difficult to get and maintain an erection .
It’s always recommended to be aware of the early signs of heart disease, others include chest pain or tightness and shortness of breath. Speak with your doctor if you are concerned.
Digestive and kidney diseases
According to the National Kidney Foundation, kidney disease affects more than 1 in 7 adults across the United States, and 1 in 3 are at risk of developing it. As well as common symptoms such as difficulty sleeping and a frequent need to pee, kidney disease can cause erectile dysfunction in males with chronic kidney disease (CKD) with estimates from the National Library of Medicine noting that it can affect about 80% of males with CKD.
If you suspect that your kidney function could be affecting erectile function, it’s important to speak with your healthcare provider who will be able to offer help and advice.
Men who have diabetes are at risk of erectile dysfunction. In fact, it’s estimated that up to 75% of men with diabetes will experience some form of erectile dysfunction during their lives .
Other common symptoms of diabetes can include a need to pee frequently, feeling very tired, and/or very thirsty. One of the most reliable ways to check for diabetes is with a test - if you would prefer, this can be done from the comfort of home with LetsGetChecked’s Diabetes and Heart Test.
Prostate cancer treatment
The nerves that sit along either side of the prostate play an important role in controlling erections. If these are removed during prostate cancer surgery, a man may find it difficult to have impromptu erections.There are also some medications used for prostate cancer that can cause ED such as hormone therapies.
If this is the case, be sure to speak with your healthcare provider and discuss your concerns.
Testosterone is the primary male sex hormone in males so it’s no surprise that it plays an important role in sexual function. Whether testosterone levels are low because of aging or a disorder such as hypogonadism - a change in testosterone levels can result in loss of libido and erectile dysfunction.
If you would prefer not to make the visit to your doctor, you can check in on your hormone levels from home with LetsGetChecked’s range of at-home male hormone tests.
According to Harvard Health, medication accounts and medical treatments for around 25% of erectile dysfunction cases . Some of the most common types of medications associated include antidepressants, diuretics, and anti-ulcer drugs.
Other physical medical conditions associated with erectile dysfunction include clogged blood vessels, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, obesity, and metabolic syndrome.
See also: Does Low Testostosterone Equal Low Mood?
Can you treat erectile dysfunction?
The treatment of erectile dysfunction depends entirely on the underlying cause as well as any known medical conditions. Some common treatment options may include:
- Testosterone replacement therapy: If the cause is related to low levels of testosterone
- Medication to lower blood pressure: If the cause is related to high blood pressure or cholesterol
- Penile implants: This involves placing a device inside the penis to help treat ed and support 'normal' erectile function. A penile implant is typically only considered if other treatments haven't been successful.
There are also some oral medications that may be considered. Each of these medications can increase the blood flow to the penis and can help in getting an erection as a result of sexual stimulation . Some of these tablets include:
It’s important to consult a medical professional to decide the best treatment option for you.
What is the first treatment for erectile dysfunction?
As mentioned above, treatment for erectile dysfunction depends entirely on the underlying cause and your medical history, this means that the approach to treating erectile dysfunction caused by an underlying health condition, psychological factors, or lifestyle choices can differ.
With this in mind, the most important first step is to speak with a healthcare professional that you trust who will be able to offer help, and advice and potentially identify the cause and the right treatment and first steps for you.
What is the fastest way to cure erectile dysfunction?
Other than the wide variety of prescription drugs and medications available such as viagra (which typically works within 30 to 60 minutes), depending on the cause, there isn’t a natural remedy for erectile dysfunction that works quickly and is approved by the FDA.
In saying that, there are a number of healthy lifestyle changes that can be made that researchers believe can help improve erectile function, these include:
- Regular exercise
- Follow a balanced diet
- Stick to a healthy weight
- Keep an eye on your blood pressure and cholesterol
If psychological factors are at play, it’s important to speak with someone you trust about how you feel. Your healthcare provider may be able to offer advice and speak with you about the best options.
A change in the levels of the hormone testosterone is one of the few common causes of erectile dysfunction. One of the best and most reliable ways to know more about your hormone levels is through a test, this can be taken with your doctor or from home with an at-home Male Hormone Test.
LetsGetChecked’s Male Hormone Complete Test can identify hormone imbalance and low testosterone levels with a simple finger prick and saliva sample. Online results will be available within 2-5 days on your personalized dashboard and our dedicated medical team will be available to answer any questions you may have about your results or the next steps you should take.
You should consider taking the test if:
- You have or have had prostate cancer
- You are undergoing chemotherapy or radiation therapy
- You suffer from Klinefelter syndrome
- You suffer from prediabetes, type 1 or type 2 diabetes
- You suffer from hemochromatosis or iron deficiency anemia
- You have a pituitary gland disorder
- You are overweight or obese
- You suffer from chronic stress
- You take anabolic steroids or protein powders
- You have a family history of hormonal imbalances
- You have an over or underactive thyroid
- You suffer from kidney or liver disease
- You have or have previously suffered from anorexia nervosa
- National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Erectile Dysfunction. Online: Niddk.nih.gov
- Harvard Health Publishing. Erectile Dysfunction often a warning sign of heart disease. Online: Health.harvard.edu
- Diabetes.co.uk. Erectile Dysfunction and Diabetes. Online: Diabetes.co.uk
- Harvard Health Publishing. Some drugs may cause erectile dysfunction. Online: Health.harvard.edu
- Mayo Clinic. Erectile Dysfunction. Online: Mayoclinic.org