Erectile dysfunction 101: causes, symptoms, and treatment

Erectile dysfunction 101

Erectile dysfunction, also known as impotence, affects nearly 49% of men aged 40- 88, in Canada. It is defined as the regular inability to sustain an erection suitable for sexual performance. Although it can be indicative of underlying health issues, psychological causes are also recognized. The good news is that erectile dysfunction (ED) is nearly always treatable, once the underlying cause can be identified.


Causes Of ED

The origins of ED can play their part during any stage of the erectile process. In short, an erection occurs when the muscles of the penis relax, allowing blood to enter the penis, resulting in an erection. This is usually initiated through sexual thoughts or physical stimulation of the penis.
When any stage of this process is disrupted, either through emotional issues or through physical problems with muscles, veins or nerves, it can result in ED. There is a long list of ED potential causes that fall into two main categories.

Physical causes can include: cardiovascular disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity, hormone imbalances, kidney disease, age, drug or alcohol use and abuse, parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis or peyronie’s disease, injury or surgery.

Some psychological causes can include: stress, anxiety and depression.


Symptoms of ED

The most common symptom of ED is the inability to achieve or maintain an erection. There are several other symptoms that are considered part of ED, which includes:

• Premature or delayed ejaculation
• The failure to reach an orgasm after ample stimulation
• Decreased sex drive

Anyone or a combination of these symptoms can be indicative of an underlying condition that requires treatment. If you have experienced any of these symptoms regularly for a period of three months or longer, you should contact a personal health care practitioner.


Treatment options

Depending on the determined cause of ED, each case will be treated differently. At first, the underlying conditions will be treated with medication or counselling suited to each situation. In many cases, this could dramatically improve ED symptoms.

Where additional treatments for ED symptoms are needed, these can include:
• Exercises such as Kegels, cardiovascular exercise and yoga.
• Changing individual lifestyle choices that improve vascular health. These include quitting smoking, lowering alcohol intake, and eating a healthier diet with fewer red meats, sugar, and dairy.
• Herbal treatments include Asparagus, DHEA, ginseng, L-arginine, L-carnitine, Horny goat weed and zinc. Please note that some of these herbal treatments can have side effects and should be discussed with your health care professional before use.
• Acupuncture or massage.
• Surgery including arterial repair or a prosthesis.
• Medication such as Sildenafil (Viagra), Vardenafil, Tadalafil (Cialis) or Avanafil (Stendra). These medications should only be taken if and how prescribed by a healthcare professional, as they may have adverse side effects.
• Hormone replacement therapy.

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