The term erectile dysfunction refers to the inability to obtain an adequate erection for satisfactory sexual activity. Erectile dysfunction (ED) has levels to understand the seriousness of this condition, and is referred to as mild, moderate or severe erectile problem. Erectile Dysfunction generally affects the lives of many middle-aged men and their partners.
Erectile dysfunction or ED is a normal factor of ageing and is more common in men older than 65. However it can occur at any age. While an occasional episode of erectile dysfunction is most normal incident, a persistent problem can interfere with a man's self-esteem over and above his and his partner's sexual life. At this point we need to remember that erectile dysfunction may also be a sign of a physical or emotional problem that requires treatment. Erectile dysfunction was once a taboo subject, but more men are seeking help after the introduction of Viagra.
Symptoms of ED
Patterns of erectile dysfunction consist of the symptoms given below:
- Irregular inability to obtain a full erection
- Inability to maintain an erection during intercourse
- Absolute inability to achieve an erection
Penis Erection and Erectile Dysfunction
Knowledge of penile erection is necessary to understand the mechanism behind the cause of erectile dysfunction(ED). The penis consists of two very soft cylindrical structures that run parallel to the duct that contains semen and urine, along its entire length. When a man gets sexually excited, there is a sudden increase in the flow of blood to the cylinder, which expands the soft sponge like structures and produces an erection, stiffening and straightening the male sexual organ. In a normal person, the rate of flow of blood remains constant, helping the person to maintain the erection, until he loses it by ejaculating.
A person suffering from erectile dysfunction fails to attain and maintain an erection due to physical reasons most of the times, or psychological causes on some occasions.
Physical causes of Erectile Dysfunction
Physical causes that are responsible for most cases of erectile dysfunction may include:
- Prostrate cancer operations
- Spinal cord fractures
- Alcohol & substance abuse
- Multiple sclerosis
- Nerve damages caused due to prolonged diabetes
- Heart problems that disrupts the flow of blood
- Specific prescription medicines
It has been seen that the physical causes sometimes interacts with the non-physical (psychological) reasons to cause ED. When persons have or undergo a physical injury that lessens their sexual response, they are mentally affected with an anxiety of underperformance, worsening their degree of erectile dysfunction.
Erectile Dysfunction Treatment
There are a wide range of options that are available for the treatment of erectile dysfunction. Some of the more popular forms of treatment are medications, oral or otherwise, mechanical devices, operations or surgery, and psychological counseling.
The oral medications available for the treatment of ED include:
- Cialis (Tadalafil)
- Levitra (Vardenafil)
Prostaglandin E (alprostadil): Alprostadil is a synthetic edition of the prostaglandin E hormone that can aid in the relaxation of the smooth muscle tissue in the penis to improve and attain the blood flow required for erection. Alprostadil are generally used in two ways:
Needle-injection Therapy: in this therapy, alprostadil (Caverject, Edex) is injected to the base or the side of the penis using a needle.
Self-administered Intraurethral Therapy: generally known by the trade name, Medicated Urethral System for Erection (MUSE), this therapy takes the aid of a disposable applicator to slot in a tiny suppository, about half the size of a grain of rice, into the tip of the penis.
Hormone Replacement Therapy
In rare cases, hormone replacement therapy to replace the male hormone testosterone can work in ED patients with deficient testosterone.
Sometimes, an external vacuum along with one or more tension rings (rubber band) are placed around the male sexual organ. A person undergoing a vacuum device treatment would have an erection that can last enough for a couple to enjoy satisfying sex. The person is required to remove the rings after sexual intercourse.
This treatment is generally adopted for ED patients who have undergone injury to the pelvic region resulting in the blockage of the penile blood flow. Corrective surgeries are employed to allow the flow of blood; however, the success of this surgery in the long run is uncertain.
Under this treatment, a device is implanted surgically into both the sides of the penis enabling the person to have an erection as often and as long as is required for intercourse. Many experts give the opinion that this treatment should be the last option as it is highly expensive and it may even give rise to risks of complications like infections.
When the doctor diagnoses stress, anxiety or depression as the cause of erectile dysfunction, he suggests the suffering couple to visit a psychologist or psychiatrist with experience in treating sexual problems.