Erectile dysfunction (ED), commonly referred to as impotence issues in men is an inability to get or maintain an erection even after sexual arousal. In this condition, the normal erection function of a man may get impaired owing to several underlying physiological as well as psychological factors.
Impotence is a sexually distressing condition that is generally characterized by a persistent inability that prevents men from attaining an erection despite getting completely aroused sexually. It stems from an insufficient blood supply to the penile due to the blockages caused by some enzymatic activity in the penile blood vessels.
How Does the Erection Function Get Affected?
Erectile dysfunction in men is the difficulty to attain or sustain an erection, as a result, they are unable to indulge in sexual intercourse. It usually happens because of an insufficient flow of blood to the penile due to the formation of plaque in the passages of the blood vessels that carry blood to the penile.
During sexual arousal, the brain signals the autonomic nervous system to initiate vasodilation in the penile by releasing chemicals for allowing abundant blood flow throughout the penile shaft for inducing an erection. But some enzymes, known as Phosphodiesterase type 5 (PDE5), released by the endothelial walls of the penile blood vessels hinder the blood flow to the reproductive organs. Excessive release of these PDE5 enzymes leads to clogging and narrowing of the blood vessels which blocks the passages of the penile blood vessels.
A powerful chemical known as nitric oxide (NO) is responsible for a healthy erection function. It is also released by the endothelial cells of the walls of the penile blood vessels. It ensures proper blood flow throughout the penile shaft by causing vasodilation and managing constrictions in the blood vessels. However, excessive release of PDE5 enzymes negates the release of nitric oxide in the endothelial walls. It makes the blood vessels become narrow and block normal blood flow. Thus, lack of blood circulation to the penile leads to erection difficulties.
Factors Responsible for Erectile Dysfunction
Erectile dysfunction is the most common sexual problem in older men; however, many young men may also get affected. In young men, erectile disorders can be regarded as a warning sign for serious medical illnesses. Its symptoms could also be an indication of cardiovascular disorders which leads to blockages in a man’s vascular system. It could stem from various other reasons.
Physiological disorders such as cardiovascular diseases, obesity, heart disease, hormonal disorders, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, atherosclerosis (hardening or blocked arteries), high blood sugar, etc., are linked to circulation problems. These factors are responsible for causing hormonal imbalances, endothelial dysfunction, insulin resistance, and ultimately physical inactivity. They can further badly affect your sexual function.
On the other hand, psychological factors like stress, depression, anxiety, guilt, and other mental health issues are not easily detectable. These factors can interfere with sexual desire which can impact the erection function. Men with mental problems may struggle to attain and sustain an erection during sexual intercourse. They may not be in a healthy mental state which affects their arousal.
Moreover, some other factors such as injuries, drug abuse, smoking, tobacco, excessive alcohol consumption, or medicinal side effects can impede the proper blood flow towards the penile causing erection failure. The erectile dysfunction due to these factors can be alleviated by managing the factors.
Treatment of Erectile Dysfunction
Men with erectile dysfunction are at potential risk of suffering from a heart attack, stroke, or circulatory problems. Therefore, it is necessary to address this issue with your primary healthcare provider or a urologist. They will examine your physical condition and find the cause of erectile dysfunction which is essential to direct treatment options.
Your healthcare provider may ask you questions regarding your health in general, medical history, any present complications, and lifestyle. You have to be honest in your approach. Tell them if you are on medication for the treatment of some health issue. It is better to inform them if you smoke or drink alcohol.
Through diagnosis, your doctor will identify the exact cause of impotence by conducting various tests and checkups, and based on that, they will suggest some treatment options. They may ask you to include some changes in your lifestyle choices. Like making changes to your diet by incorporating healthy foods, smoking cessation, exercising more, limiting alcohol, and usage of drugs.
If psychological factors are contributing to ED, you can get help by talking to your partner or a close friend. They may help you to get rid of the emotional baggage. Or you can also consult a mental health expert with whom you can address all your mental health issues and relationship conflicts. Such conditions tend to interfere with sexual feelings which impacts sexual function, and an expert can give you valuable advice on your mental problems.
Effective Methods of Preventing Erectile Dysfunction
Erectile dysfunction can be prevented by getting a proper diagnosis or treatment for any underlying cause of erectile dysfunction (ED) and by making healthy lifestyle choices, these include:
- Follow your doctor’s guidance to manage your chronic health conditions such as obesity, diabetes, etc.
- Abstain from excessive smoking and drug abuse
- Limit your alcohol consumption or it is better to avoid it completely
- Try meditating or performing yoga to relieve psychological problems like stress and anxiety
- Engage yourself in some aerobic activities and also perform some strength training exercises to build endurance
- Visit your healthcare provider for regular checkups
- Seek help for mental health concerns
Is Erectile Dysfunction Curable?
Erectile dysfunction can be cured; however, it depends on the cause. Various causes contribute to ED, and all of them cannot reverse ED. But it is possible to alleviate its symptoms to a certain degree with the help of methods. You can opt for treatments like surgery, implants, injections, vacuum devices, constriction rings, and prescription medications. The best way to treat your erectile dysfunction is through prescription ED medications. Your doctor will prescribe you an appropriate dose, based on the severity of your ED symptoms. Hence, ED is not always curable, but it is treatable to a great extent.