Erectile dysfunction (impotence) is the inability to get and keep an erection firm enough for sex.having erection trouble from time to time isn’t necessarily a cause for concern. If erectile dysfunction is an ongoing issue, however, it can cause stress, affect your self-confidence and contribute to relationship problems. Problems getting or keeping an erection can also be a sign of an underlying health condition that needs treatment and a risk factor for heart disease.
Male sexual arousal is a complex process that involves the brain, hormones, emotions, nerves, muscles and blood vessels. Erectile dysfunction can result from a problem with any of these. Likewise, stress and mental health concerns can cause or worsen erectile dysfunction. Sometimes a combination of physical and psychological issues causes erectile dysfunction. For instance, a minor physical condition that slows your sexual response might cause anxiety about maintaining an erection. The resulting anxiety can lead to or worsen erectile dysfunction.
Physical causes of erectile dysfunction
In many cases, erectile dysfunction is caused by something physical. Common causes include:
• Heart disease
• Clogged blood vessels (atherosclerosis)
• High cholesterol
• High blood pressure
• Metabolic syndrome — a condition involving increased blood pressure, high insulin levels, body fat around the waist and high cholesterol
• Parkinson’s disease
• Multiple sclerosis
• Certain prescription medications
• Tobacco use
• Peyronie’s disease — development of scar tissue inside the penis
• Alcoholism and other forms of substance abuse
• Sleep disorders
• Treatments for prostate cancer or enlarged prostate
• Surgeries or injuries that affect the pelvic area or spinal cord
“SEX IS THE MOST IMPORTANT SORT OF ADULT PLAY. IF YOU CAN’T RELAX HERE YOU NEVER WILL”
Psychological causes of erectile dysfunction
The brain plays a key role in triggering the series of physical events that cause an erection, starting with feelings of sexual excitement. A number of things can interfere with sexual feelings and cause or worsen erectile dysfunction. These include:
• Depression, anxiety or other mental health conditions
• Relationship problems due to stress, poor communication or other concerns
As you get older, erections might take longer to develop and might not be as firm. You might need more direct touch to your penis to get and keep an erection. Various risk factors can contribute to erectile dysfunction, including:
• Medical conditions, particularly diabetes or heart conditions
• Tobacco use, which restricts blood flow to veins and arteries, can — over time — cause chronic health conditions that lead to erectile dysfunction
• Being overweight, especially if you’re obese
• Certain medical treatments, such as prostate surgery or radiation treatment for cancer
• Injuries, particularly if they damage the nerves or arteries that control erections
• Medications, including antidepressants, antihistamines and medications to treat high blood pressure, pain or prostate conditions
• Psychological conditions, such as stress, anxiety or depression
• Drug and alcohol use, especially if you’re a long-term drug user or heavy drinker.
Complications resulting from erectile dysfunction can include:
• An unsatisfactory sex life
• Stress or anxiety
• Embarrassment or low self-esteem
• Relationship problems
• The inability to get your partner pregnant
Erectile dysfunction symptoms might include persistent:
• Trouble getting an erection
• Trouble keeping an erection
• Reduced sexual desire
Talk to an expert
Many men are reluctant to discuss erectile dysfunction with their doctors. But don’t let embarrassment keep you from getting help. One small conversation can make a big difference. Here’s what to do:
• Tell your doctor what’s going on. Your doctor will consider underlying causes of your erectile dysfunction and can give you information about medication and other erectile dysfunction treatments. Find out your options.
• Ask what you need to do to control diabetes. Careful blood sugar control can prevent nerve and blood vessel damage that can lead to erectile dysfunction. Ask your doctor if you’re taking the right steps to manage your diabetes.
• Ask about other health problems. It’s common for men with diabetes to have other chronic conditions that can cause or worsen erectile dysfunction. Work with your doctor to make sure you’re addressing any other health problems.
• Check your medications. Ask your doctor if you’re taking any medications that might be worsening your erectile problems, such as drugs used to treat depression or high blood pressure. Making a change to your medications may help.
• Seek counseling. Anxiety and stress can worsen erectile dysfunction. A psychologist or other mental health provider can help you find ways to ease your stress level
If you’re concerned about erectile dysfunction, talk to your doctor — even if you’re embarrassed. Sometimes, treating an underlying condition is enough to reverse erectile dysfunction. In other cases, medications or other direct treatments might be needed.
“TO FEEL AROUSED IS TO FEEL ALIVE. HAVING GREAT SEX IS LIKE TAKING IN HUGE LUNGFUL OF FRESH AIR, ESSENTIAL TO YOUR BODY, ESSENTIAL TO YOUR HEALTH AND ESSENTIAL TO YOUR LIFE”