Erectile Dysfunction

General Facts

Erectile dysfunction refers to a man’s continual inability to reach or maintain an erection long enough to become sexually satisfied or to satisfy his partner.

Without a proper diagnosis and in many cases, treatment, it can have a serious impact on the person’s life, leading to low self-esteem and unfulfilled relationships with partners. It affects men of all ages, with an emphasis on men over the age of 40. Erectile dysfunction may have multiple causes.

Symptoms and Causes

  • Inability to reach an erection – the penis not getting hard enough to make penetration possible;
  • The erection is too week to perform intercourse
  • The erection only lasts for very short periods of time

Erectile dysfunction can be due to physical or psychological causes. Among the physical causes are penis traumas, chronic diseases like diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, multiple sclerosis, kidney diseases and atherosclerosis.

Life style choices such as alcohol and drug abuse, excessive smoking and obesity are known to reduce the flow of blood to the penis and hence lead to erectile dysfunction. Surgical interventions, especially the ones required to treat prostate cancer or bladder cancer sometimes affect the nerves and blood vessels around the penis. Also there are cases in which erectile dysfunction is a side effect of medication: pills for lowering blood pressure, antidepressants and anaesthetics. The most common psychological factors that can impact on the erectile function are stress, depression, low self-esteem and anxiety. Factors such as concern for sexual skill and prowess, penis size and body image feed low self-esteem and anxiety.


Investigations and diagnosis

Due to the rather delicate and sensitive nature of this condition, men are often reluctant to get in contact with a doctor or even talk about it.

What is important to know is that the condition can be improved or cured completely if a proper diagnosis is established. Failing to seek medical advice as soon as the situation permits can lead to more stress and anxiety. The lack of medical support can also in many cases turn a temporary issue into a chronic one. When looking for a diagnosis, the doctor will take into consideration the symptoms that have been exhibited, the sexual history of the individual and respective partners. Blood and urine tests may be required to determine hormone levels. A Regi scan may also be used to monitor erections that occur while sleeping.

Treatment and prevention

Erectile dysfunction can be cured by treating the cause. Treatment strategies may include the following:

  • Medication that will increase the flow of blood in the penis
  • Penis implants or vacuum procedures
  • Psychological therapy to ease the feelings of anxiety, guild and fear that can have an impact on erectile function

Even though a certain few erectile dysfunctions can’t readily be prevented, knowledge of the condition can help to cut some of the fears related to the condition and therefore minimize further development of psychological complications.

Please note in order to promote a satisfying sex life it is often advisable to limit the intake of alcohol and drugs, quit smoking, and take steps to overcome any emotional problems from its root. Maintaining strong and open communication with your partner is also of paramount importance in this case.