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Sexual Health: What Is Erectile Dysfunction?

  By posted Oct 23rd 2011
Healthy Living


Men’s Health: Understanding Erectile Dysfunction

Erectile dysfunction (ED) is when a man has trouble maintaining an erection. This problem is more common among older men, but even the younger lot is not entirely safe from it, thanks to performance anxiety, relationship issues, stress, depression, medical complications, and so on. The temporary cure for ED may lie in simply popping pills prescribed by a sexologist, but for a more permanent and long term solution -  lifestyle modifications are a must. With expert inputs from Dr. A. Chakravarthy, President of the International Association of Sexual Medicine in Thiruvananthapuram, let us understand Erectile Dysfunction in detail.

Erectile Dysfunction is defined as the inability of the male to get and maintain his erection to achieve satisfactory intercourse. The causes of Erectile Dysfunction range from the psychological to physical and chemical. Causes like depression, guilt, performance anxiety, relationship trouble and stress, mentioned earlier, fall under the phsychological causes for ED. 

Physical causes include: Smoking, diabetes mellitus, obesity (in some cases), drugs – drugs for hypertension. Psychotic drugs such as those for arteriosclerosis and hormonal imbalance can also cause ED in some unfortunate cases. 

Typically, a decrease in testosterone can reduce the libido. As can hyperthyroidism - which involves negative effects from hormonal imbalances. 

Neuorological conditions such as pelvic trauma, Peyronie’s disease, alcoholism, and any serious physical illness – liver diseases, kidney diseases, cardiac diseases are also high risk situations for ED.

Who is at risk of erectile dysfunction?

  • The elderly
  • People with cardiovascular diseases
  • People with diabetes mellitus
  • High cholesterol patients
  • Frequent smokers
  • Recreational drug users
  • Those suffering from depression or other psychiatric disorders

Treating Erectile Dysfunction: 

ED treatment includes medication like pde5 inhibitors – sildenafil, tadalafil & Vardenafil, and intra cavernosal injections – inj papaverine. ED treatment also includes treatment of other physical problems through counselling, and sex therapy. Sex therapy is a unique and specialized form of professional counseling designed to help couples by sensate focusing.

What can people do on their own?

To prevent and fight Erectile Dysfunction men should attempt the following: 

  • Quit smoking,
  • Exercise regularly
  • Reduce excess weight 
  • Reduce excessive alcohol consumption,
  • Control hypertension 
  • Control blood glucose level

Importance of erectile dysfunction screening:
Screening for erectile dysfunction due to arteriosclerosis can predict the coronary artery disease and is a must for people suffering from Erectile Dysfunction.

*Image courtesy: © Thinkstock photos/ Getty Images  



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