It’s hard to pinpoint an exact cause of erectile dysfunction as there are lots of complex processes involved in getting and maintaining an erection. Physical factors like heart disease, high cholesterol and high blood pressure can cause erectile problems as well as psychological reasons like your state of arousal and mental health. Because there’s often no one cause of erectile dysfunction, treating it effectively can be challenging. Often, there are both physical reasons and psychological factors that cause erectile dysfunction.
Stress, depression, anxiety and relationship problems can also be a cause. Worrying about not being able to get and maintain an erection can cause your stress levels to rise, ultimately making your erectile dysfunction symptoms worse.
Drinking alcohol is a common cause of erectile dysfunction. Having too many drinks can decrease the amount of blood flowing to your penis and make for an awkward encounter in the bedroom. Avoid drinking alcohol for as long as possible before you intend on getting an erection. Of course, this isn’t always practical. Try and keep the drinks to a minimum before and during sex.
Smoking is another major factor that affects erection quality. Over time, smoking can clog and damage the blood vessels that supply blood to the penis. Without enough blood, the penis remains flaccid (not erect).
Do I have Erectile Dysfunction?
Erectile dysfunction can occur in men at any age, although it’s more prevalent in men over 40. It’s thought to affect around 1 in 5 men at some point in their lives so it’s probably more common than you think.
If you struggle to achieve an erection or can’t maintain an erection, you may have erectile dysfunction. The only way to know for certain is to visit your GP or visit a sexual health clinic. It’s often quicker to use a sexual health clinic as they have shorter waiting times and test results come back quickly.
To work out if you have erectile dysfunction, you’ll be asked questions about your diet and lifestyle. Your blood pressure and pulse rate will be taken too. You might have to undergo more intrusive tests like a rectal exam - this is to check your prostate for abnormalities. A malfunctioning prostate can cause erectile dysfunction. If you’re passing blood in your urine or have any local pains of numbness, tell your GP or nurse as this may be caused by a more serious underlying health problem.
How can I treat my Erectile Dysfunction?
Making lifestyle changes like stopping smoking, exercising regularly and following a healthy diet is recommended for men with erectile dysfunction. These changes have obvious physical benefits, like improved blood circulation, as well as psychological benefits. Losing weight if you’re overweight and gaining muscle can boost your self esteem and create a more positive mindset. This boost in confidence could also help you achieve an erection.
There are different treatments and techniques you can try to improve your erections.
Taking Viagra (Sildenafil), Cialis (Tadalafil), Levitra (Vardenafil) or other similar medications can improve your erectile dysfunction. These medications are all phosphodiesterase (PDE) inhibitors. Once ingested, they increase blood flow to the penis. These medications are usually safe for long-term daily use - take as directed before you require an erection. In the UK, these medications are now available over the counter. Only purchase erectile dysfunction medication from reputable pharmacies and regulated websites - buying them elsewhere could be illegal and dangerous if you don’t know exactly what your taking.
Cialis or other PDE inhibitors can be a cheap, effective treatment for erectile dysfunction. Hormone therapy is another option for some men. A common hormone therapy is hormone replacement - this is a misleading name as nothing is actually being replaced. An injection, infusion or tablet is administered that boosts the levels of a hormone (usually testosterone). Hormones control a lot of complex biological processes in the body, so hormone replacement therapy can have major effects on your body. It’s not a permanent solution to erectile dysfunction and hormone levels deplete over time.
Lots of men take Viagra and similar medications don’t experience any major side effects. Common side effects include nausea, indigestion and feeling dizzy. Some men have hot flushes too because these medications dilate the blood vessels all over the body.
Is Erectile Dysfunction curable?
Some men have reversed all their symptoms of erectile dysfunction, although they might not be considered cured as problems can return. Be wary of erectile dysfunction medication that claims to be a ‘cure’ - you can efficiently treat erectile dysfunction, but this is rarely a permanent fix.
If you suffer from high blood pressure or cholesterol, your doctor may prescribe you statins and other medications. Along with healthy lifestyle changes, this might be enough to end erectile dysfunction. PDE inhibitors or testosterone injections may be another option for you. Have a chat with your doctor or nurse about what treatments are available to you and look around for the best prices and products to treat your erectile dysfunction.