Erectile dysfunction is among the common sex problems reported by men. In fact, it tends to affect 30 Million men across the globe. Erectile dysfunction is a problem where you have difficulty in getting or keeping an erection that is required during intercourse. While it is not an uncommon phenomenon amongst men, the progressive occurrence of it is not normal and should be treated timely. If you don’t treat erectile dysfunction at the right time, your relationship with your partner might suffer, further creating health complexities. Additionally, there is a certain taboo associated with erectile dysfunction that prevents men from coming out and speaking about it. In reality, it is a very common sexual issue and nothing to be ashamed of. There is an array of reasons that contributes to erectile dysfunction. In this article, we are comprehensively explaining every important aspect that you should be aware of erectile dysfunction and the treatment associated with it.
The Function of Erection
When you are sexually aroused, the nerves release certain chemicals that boost the blood flow into your penis. The blood reaches into the erection chambers that are made of corpus cavernous (spongy muscle tissues). During arousal, the tissues relax and trap the blood inside the chamber, resulting in an erection. Furthermore, when a man has an orgasm, the muscle tissues inside the penis contract, and the blood is released back, resulting in the erection to come down. In a normal situation, the penis stays in a limp position, and the size of it varies depending on both physical and psychological factors.
Prominent Causes of Erectile Dysfunction
There many physical as well as emotional reasons that cause erectile dysfunction. Below we have highlighted some prominent reasons behind it –
- Neurological Disorder
The neurological disorder may increase the risks of erectile dysfunction. This is because complications in nerves affect the ability of the brain to communicate with your reproductive system effectively. This makes it challenging for you to get an erection. Some common neurological and nerve disorders include Alzheimer’s, Parkinson, brain tumor, spinal tumor, temporal love epilepsy multiple sclerosis, stroke, etc.
- Certain Medications
Some medications can impact blood flow, leading to erectile dysfunction. However, you should not stop the medication prior to consulting your doctor. Some medications that can result in erectile dysfunction include tamsulosin, metoprolol, carvedilol, cimetidine, alprazolam, diazepam, codeine, furosemide, etc.
- Heart Condition
Cardiac conditions that impact the heart’s ability to pump sufficient blood can also result in erectile dysfunction. When enough blood doesn’t reach the penis, you will not be able to get an erection. Atherosclerosis, hypertension, high cholesterol, etc. are some heart conditions that cause erectile dysfunction.
- Endocrine Diseases
Your endocrine system secretes hormones that stimulate reproduction, metabolism, sexual function, mood, etc. complexities associated with your endocrine system can result in erectile dysfunction. For instance, diabetes is an endocrine disease, which affects your ability to use insulin hormones properly. It often causes nerve damage that may affect penis sensations. Moreover, chronic diabetes often impairs the hormone levels and blood flow.
- Lifestyle or Emotional Imbalance
In order to get an erection, you have to have a sexual desire; which is your body’s emotional response. If you are emotionally imbalance, it will impact your ability to become sexually aroused. Depression and anxiety are amongst the important reasons associated with erectile dysfunction. Depression occurs when you feel a strong sense of sadness, helplessness, or hopelessness.
Performance anxiety is also a reason behind this dysfunction, while you may be able to achieve an erection when masturbation, unable to achieve the same during the coitus.
The Diagnosis of Erectile Dysfunction
Considering the fact that erectile dysfunction can be caused by both physical and psychological reasons, your urologist may perform a physical as well as a mental test during the diagnosis process. Below we have mentioned the diagnosis process of erectile dysfunction:
- Assessing the Medical as well as Sexual History
The process begins by assessing your medical and sexual history in order to see whether or not there is a clear cause. During this process, you talk about the surgeries you had, medications you take, lifestyle choices, etc.
Furthermore, by looking into your sexual history, the doctor aims to learn about your sex drive, sexual relationships, times when you do get erections, etc.
- Physical Examination
In this process, your doctor will check your penis as well as testicles to ensure that they appear normal, and the nerves are working as per expectation. The urologist might lose check for the hair loss, and inflamed breast as both the symptoms are signs of hormonal issues. During the process, the doctor will check your pulse of wrists and ankles to assess the blood flow and take your blood pressure test.
- Blood and Urine test
Post your physical exam; your doctor will need to perform urine and blood tests. This is done in order to check whether you are suffering from diseases that can risk erectile dysfunction such as diabetes, kidney disease, heart disease, hormonal issues, etc.
- Erection Test
In a normal situation, men have erection 3 to 5 times during the night when they are asleep. Your doctor might carry out an overnight erection test to see whether you are getting an erection. A device will be placed around your penis that measures the number of times you get erections and how strong they are. You will have to place the device around your penis before you go to sleep.
- Intracavernosal Test
An intracavernosal test is also referred to as an injection test. In this, your doctor inserts a medicine into your penis base in order to result in an erection. Even after the medicine, you don’t get an erection; then, your penis might not be experienced enough blood flow.
- Doppler Ultrasound
In certain cases, you might want to go through Doppler ultrasound. This is another way of checking the blood flow into your penis. Your doctor uses a device and places it over your penis. The sound waves from the device produce videos of blood flow.
- Mental Health Exam
If your doctor suspects the issues being mental or emotional, then your doctor will carry out a mental examination. During this text, you will be asked some simple questions associated with your well-being. This examination will help him look out for the signs of anxiety, depression, stress, etc.
Effective Treatments of Erectile Dysfunction
The treatment of erectile dysfunction depends on the causes revealed post the diagnosis. Typically, you might need a combination of treatment that includes medication, therapy, lifestyle changes, etc.
The following are some types of treatments available for erectile dysfunction.
Erectile dysfunction medicines prescribed by your doctor work towards managing the symptoms. You may have to try different medications before you can find the one that actually works. A major drawback of these medications includes the increased number of side effects. If you experience any side effects, ensure to talk to your doctor immediately and get the medicines changes.
Some of the popular medicines prescribed by doctors include sildenafil, avanafil, tadalafil, vardenafil, alprostadil, etc.
- Natural Remedies
For men whose symptoms are not that serious can treat the issues using herbs and natural remedies. Some of the popular herbs include.
- Tongkat Ali- Tongat Ali is a powerful herb that has been effective in treating erectile dysfunction to a great extent. According to the studies, Tongkat Ali relieves stress and boosts fertility in men.
- Yohimbe– It is a supplement extracted from the Yohimbe tree’s bark. This herb has proven to have a positive effect on your sexual performance.
- L-arginine- it is an amino acid that is present in your body that helps with the production of nitric oxide. Adequate release of nitric acid into the blood vessels helps in erection and healthy sexual performance. Simply taking 5 grams of L-arginine can offer significant improvement.
- Panax Ginseng- Panax Ginseng is also known as herbal Viagra. People with high lipids in the blood and metabolic syndrome can highly benefit from this herb. The herb can have anti-inflammatory action, enhance lung function, and boost blood flow, etc. thereby reducing the symptoms of erectile dysfunction.
- Talk to Your Therapist
If the issues are psychological, then you might benefit from talking to the therapist. Some of the prominent emotional factors include stress, anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, etc. Therapy sessions can help in managing your mental health. You might have to take several sessions in order to address the issues that are impacting your sexual well-being effectively. If your relationship is also affected by erectile dysfunction, you should talk to a relationship counselor. These sessions can help you emotionally reconnect with your partner that can further help with your erectile dysfunction.
Muscles that are important in maintaining an erection at times lose their strength. However, with exercise, you can strengthen these muscles and reverse erectile dysfunction. Some of the exercises include –
- Kegel Exercises- Kegel exercises focus on the muscles that are present at the bottom of your pelvis, especially the pubococcygeus muscles. These muscles surround the pubic bone in order to support the pelvic organ. When the muscles get weaker, it is unable to protect the blood from flowing out of the erected penis. Kegel exercises such as pelvic floor exercises will strengthen and further improve the tone of the pubococcygeus. If you perform these exercises continuously, you might witness the results in 4 to 6 weeks.
- Pilates- Pilates exercises activate the pelvis muscles and challenge you to maintain pelvic floor strength during a certain motion. Some of the effective pilates exercises to try include knee fallouts, supine foot raises pelvic curl, etc.
- Aerobic Exercises- Aerobic exercises are effective because they increase your heart rate, challenging heart to pump blood faster. It lowers the blood pressure; thereby reduce the blood flow issues associated with erectile dysfunction. High blood pressure tends to damage the blood vessels and impact the flow of the blood. Some of the popular aerobic exercises include football, running, dancing, swimming, etc. according to research, 160 minutes of aerobic experience in a week for consistently six months can reduce the symptoms of erectile dysfunction.
- Resistance Training- Resistance training is a powerful method of improving cardiovascular health. And your heart health is essentially associated with erectile dysfunction. When you combine aerobic exercises with resistance training consistently can help you improve erectile function by 15%.
- Taking on Healthy Diet
Along with your proper medication and exercises, a healthy diet can also significantly help in managing the symptoms of erectile dysfunction. It is important to consume food items that are boasted with nutrients, minerals, and vitamins. Some of the food items that you should include are-
- Spinach- Spinach is high in folate that plays a vital role in your sexual function. Cooked spinach includes 66% of the required daily intake of folic acid. Furthermore, it also includes a good amount of magnesium that improves and increases blood flow.
- Apple Peel- Apple is a food item that offers versatile benefits. Apple can also help you in improving your penis health. Apple peel encompasses active compound ursolic acid that helps in ensuring its optimum function.
- Oysters- Oysters are known to improve your testosterone level and help in maintaining the sex drive. They boasted with useful zinc nutrients.
- Nuts- Walnuts contain a high amount of arginine, an important amino acid that your body uses to produce nitric oxide. They are also an excellent source of Vitamin E, fiber, and folic acid. However, nuts are high in calories, so ensure that you consume them in lesser quantity.
If you are dealing with psychological ED, then acupuncture may help with the same. While research is limited on this one, there is no harm in trying. Acupuncture helps with the blood flow in the body, therefore considered to be a good treatment for erectile dysfunction. When you are selecting an acupuncture expert, ensure that you hire an experienced and certified practitioner for the same and adhere to the rules and regulations of the US Food and Drug Administration.
- Prostate Massage
A massage therapy known as prostate massage can help with erectile dysfunction. In these forms of treatment, the practitioner massages the tissues around your groin in order to stimulate the blood flow in your penis. The effectiveness of this process is backed by limited research.
Common Side Effects of Erectile Dysfunction Medication
- Body Pain
Some people who have taken medications for erectile dysfunction have experienced muscle pains and aches, especially in their lower back. You can treat the ache with over the counter medication, however, consult with your doctor prior to taking any medicine.
Erectile medication is focused on increasing the nitric oxide in the blood. This increase in nitric oxide may cause dizziness. You might experience mild dizziness while performing normal activities. In case if the dizziness results in fainting, then you should consult a doctor immediately. This will help you to mitigate any serious health issues.
Headaches are among the most common side effects of erectile dysfunction medicines. The sudden increase in the blood flow can boost nitric oxide that can result in headaches. This is a typical side effect for all ED medications, therefore switching medicines would not essentially eliminate these symptoms. Talk to your doctor regarding the same to get proper treatment for it.
Flushes include temporary redness on your skin. It generally occurs on your face, and in some cases, you might experience them in other parts of the body. Flushes are often very mild and appear like severe rashes. While the appearance may look uncomfortable, flushes are not harmful. Try to avoid spicy food, alcohol, etc. during this time.
- Change in Vision
One of the major side effects of ED medication is the change of vision. These medications and temporarily give your blurry vision. If you already have vision loss, retinal disorder, etc., then you should request your doctor to change the medication.
- The problem in your Digestive System
Your ED medications can result in making your digestive system weak, resulting in diarrhea and indigestion. In order to relive the issue, try to make some changes to your diet. Completely avoid caffeine, juice, and alcohol and instead consume an adequate amount of water. If the issues continue to prevail, then contract your doctor for OTC treatment for the same.
The Bottom Line
Erectile dysfunction is a male sexual issue that can have both physical and mental implications in your life. However, in a lot of cases, the symptoms of erectile dysfunction can be controlled by modern treatment methods. It is a common sexual problem among men that can be treated with early diagnoses and treatment. Ensure to talk to your doctor before taking any medication and herb in order to ensure you don’t have any side effects. Even when you want to change any existing medications, consult with your doctors first. By taking the right steps at the right time, you can control the symptoms of erectile dysfunction to a great extent.