Demystifying Erectile Dysfunction
Your physical and mental wellbeing is closely related to your sexual health. Sexual dysfunction results in negative effects on your self-esteem, confidence, interpersonal relationships, and emotional health.
Erectile dysfunction is the inability to maintain a penile erection and enjoy satisfactory sexual activity. Erectile dysfunction is the leading cause of sexual dysfunction in men, affecting 33 percent of all men worldwide.
Given its prevalence, it is important that patients understand the causes of ED and learn about the available treatment options. There is no shame in discussing the above with your doctors and finding the best solution for you.
What are the causes of Erectile dysfunction?
During sexual activity, nerves in our body release chemicals that increase the blood flow to the penis which flows into its two chambers. Meanwhile, the muscles of the penis contract and trap the blood inside these chambers. Maintaining your blood pressure in these chambers is what makes an erection possible. Any disruption in this process can lead to erectile dysfunction.
- Primary ED occurs when a person has never achieved an erection in his lifetime. It is very rare and can be due to psychological or physical reasons.
- Secondary ED refers to the situation where a patient who was previously able to maintain an erection develops ED. It is commonly caused by structural issues and its incidence increases with age. It is estimated that 50 percent of people above the age of 50 suffer from erectile dysfunction.
Common structural causes of ED
- Narrowing of blood vessels in cardiovascular diseases i.e. atherosclerosis and high blood pressure
- Obesity and reduced physical activity
- Hormonal disorders, mainly testosterone deficiency
- Substance abuse, smoking and alcohol use
Although psychological causes are less common than structural causes, their importance cannot be disregarded. Many times, structural and psychological causes overlap and occur in the same person.
Psychological factors include depression, performance anxiety, and general anxiety, and fear of intimacy.
When do you need to consult the doctor?
You do not need to worry if you rarely experience difficulty in maintaining an an erection. Studies have shown that it is normal to have trouble maintaining an erection in less than ten percent of the sexual encounters. However, if it is persistent, you need to consult your doctor to find out the root cause. You need to cooperate with your doctor, speak openly, and do not hesitate to answer embarrassing or private questions.