All About Erectile Dysfunction that You Need to Know

Erectile dysfunction is not as uncommon as you might think. According to medical studies, about 1 in 10 males suffer from Erectile Dysfunction or ED. It falls under the category of sexual disorder- not a disease. ED damages the self-esteem of the person, often affecting his personal relationships.

Like always, proper information is the key to the solution.[1] Consult a specialist and don’t be afraid to ask all the questions brewing in your mind. This article provides you with a basic overview, with answers to some of the common questions that might be lurking in your mind- related to ED.

What is Erectile Dysfunction? What are its symptoms?

Erectile Dysfunction is the inability to get the penis firm and erect- to a state of performing sexual intercourse.[2] A functioning male genital organ gets firm and erect, due to blood flowing into the penis. The cavernosal artery runs through the middle of each corpus cavernosa (erectile tissues). Blood flows through the cavernosal artery when simulated/excited- resulting in an erection. The majority of the blood flows into the corpus cavernosa – which engorges and increases in length and diameter.[3] The muscles surrounding the corpus cavernosa and corpus spongiosum (spongy tissue encompassing the urethra) support them during the erection.

A large number of persons consider Erectile Dysfunction(ED) as a sexual disorder. While it is one, the complications are not simply limited to male reproductive health. In layman’s terms, a person suffering an ED will have difficulty keeping his penis firm enough for sexual intercourse. Biologically, an erection is caused due to increased blood flow into the penis- due to stimulus.

ED is sometimes occasional, often caused by tension and stress. It is a curable disorder and medications like Viagra(Sildenafil Citrate), Cialis(Tadalafil) is used to treat Erectile Dysfunction.  It is interesting to note that a majority of the causes behind ED are also responsible for various types of heart diseases.

Causes of Erectile Dysfunction

According to the opinion of medical experts- a lot of causes contribute directly – or indirectly – to Erectile Dysfunction. Some of the common causes are hormonal imbalance, unhealthy diet and lifestyle, diabetes, smoking and alcohol consumption.[4] Physical injuries may also become causes for ED.

Psychological issues are one of the major possible factors behind ED. Stress, anxiety, tension are well-known mood deterrents. A person suffering from depression and low self-esteem can find it hard to get a proper erection. Scientific studies have shown a relation between ED and Coronary heart diseases- with many people suggesting ED at a young age to be an indicator of possible heart ailments.[5]

Modern medical research suggests that men with an ED are more prone to having heart attacks and strokes.

According to a medical study,  64% of people hospitalized for a heart stroke had reported ED at some point in their lives.[6] Many experts recommend treating ED as a warning sign for serious cardiac issues. The primary causes behind both of them are remarkably similar, such as:

1. Age of the person

The risk of both heart diseases and ED increases as a person grows older. ED under the age of 50 indicates a likely chance of some underlying heart issues.

 2. High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure for a continued period exerts pressure on the artery walls, damaging its linings. This, in turn, messes with the blood flow of a person. According to the study findings in a 2012 journal, around 30% of men suffering from high blood pressure report ED

3. High Blood Cholesterol

Cholesterol buildup clogs the artery walls- restricting the flow of blood. Restriction of blood flow causes coronary disease, as well as ED.

4. Smoking

According to a study carried among 8367 Australian men, a link can be established between people suffering from ED and smoking.[7] ED is reported to be more severe in people smoking an excess of 20 cigarettes a day.

Smoking is also responsible for damaging the arteries in the heart. Smoking is well known to be harmful to the respiratory system- damaging the airways and alveoli in the lungs.  causing 84% of deaths due to lung cancer.

5. Obesity

An overweight/obese person is much more likely to have health issues like High Blood Pressure, High Cholesterol, elevated blood sugar levels- all responsible for both cardiac problems.[8] The excessive weight also increases the chances of an Erectile Dysfunction.

6. Diabetes

According to a 2008 medical study, Erectile Dysfunction can be seen as an indicator of Coronary Heart Disease among men suffering from Type 2 Diabetes

7. Depression

Mental health is a serious matter of concern which sadly gets neglected in the modern fast-paced world. People suffering from depression are more likely to report incidents of ED. Also, stress is always known to negatively impact the sexual performance of a man.

Common symptoms of ED include constant difficulty in getting/maintaining an erection. Most persons also report reduced sexual desire.[9]

How does age affect ED?

It has been observed that a person may face more difficulty in keeping/maintaining an erection the older he gets.[10] Stress, poor neural response, irregular blood flow into the organ, possible lifetime smoking habits attribute in having a weaker erection, compared to a younger person.

It is to be noted that increasing age is not a direct factor for ED. It, however, increase your chances of suffering from an ED. Out of the total number of persons who visit the doctor for treatment of ED, one-fourth are below the age of 40.

How to Diagnose ED?

The consulting doctor will probably diagnose ED upon physical evaluation only. As a patient, you must inform the doctor about your past medical history.[11] Consult the urologist if you have any associated health problems. The medical tests may include:

  1. Psychological and Mental Health Evaluation.
  2. Overnight Erection Test.
  3. Ultrasonography of your penis.
  4. Urine Analysis.

Treatment of ED

Erectile Dysfunction is easily curable. There are several medications available to treat ED. Your doctor may prescribe oral pills such as sildenafil citrate(popular Brand name- Viagra), tadalafil(Cialis), vardenafil(Levitra) Avanafil(Stendra). Herbal options such as the Chinese Horny Goat Weed work effectively against ED.

In certain cases, higher medications such as Alprostadil may be used in the form of self-injection, urethral suppository. Testosterone replacement therapy is effective for people with low levels of testosterone hormone.[12] Physical exercises are beneficial in increasing the overall blood flow and curing ED. In severe cases, doctors may also suggest vacuum penis pumps and surgery. These are usually the last resort in ED treatment- if everything else fails.

Is ED treatment covered by Insurance?

Insurance coverage is properly written in the policy details. In general, coverage (if not full, partial) will be provided if the Erectile Dysfunction arises due to medical conditions. Sex therapy treatments have not been approved by the FDA as of yet. As a result, no coverage is provided in general cases. Contact your insurance agent for better information.



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