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 having one too many drinks - if it happens often, it’s important to know more.
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.
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 .
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 .
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.
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.
According to Harvard Health, medication accounts 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
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.
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 lab test.
LetsGetChecked’s at-home Testosterone Test can identify low testosterone levels with a simple finger prick sample. Online results will be available within 2-5 days and our dedicated medical team will be available to answer any questions you may have every step of the way.
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