The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) states erectile dysfunction (ED) is the inability to get or maintain an erection firm enough for sexual intercourse. Erectile dysfunction is one of the most common male sexual problems. It’s estimated between 15 to 30 million American men suffer from ED.
The American Urological Association Foundation (AUA) says achieving a normal erection is a complex process involving psychological impulses from the brain, adequate levels of testosterone, a functioning nervous system, and adequate and healthy vascular tissue in the penis. Erectile dysfunction can result from a problem with any of these.
The physical and medical causes of ED, according to AUA, include three basic problems: not enough blood flows into the penis; the penis can’t store blood during an erection; and nerve signals from the brain or spinal cord don’t reach the penis.
Mayo Clinic reports in most cases, erectile dysfunction is caused by something physical. Common causes include:
* cardiovascular disease
*clogged blood vessels
*high blood pressure
*high insulin levels, body fat around the waist and high cholesterol
*development of scar tissue inside the penis
*certain prescription medications
*alcoholism and other forms of substance abuse
*treatments for prostate cancer or enlarged prostate
*surgeries or injuries that affect the pelvic area or spinal cord
A number of psychological conditions can cause or worsen erectile dysfunction. These include depression, anxiety or other mental health conditions, stress, fatigue, and relationship problems.
AUA says the most common risk factors for ED are being older than age 50, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking and cardiovascular disease.
ED treatment includes lifestyle changes, psychotherapy, oral medications, drug therapy, vacuum devices and surgery.