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Erectile Dysfunction

  • What is Erectile Dysfunction?

    Erectile Dysfunction (ED) refers to the inability of a man to achieve or maintain an erection sufficient for sexual intercourse. An erection is driven by brain impulses that stimulate the inflow of blood through the blood vessels and the relaxation of the muscles in the penis. Erectile Dysfunction is a problem not a disease, and most men experience such problem at some stage in their lives, most often by the age of 40.

  • ED can be caused by physical and psychological factors.

    The physical factors include:

    • Certain prescription drugs such as blood pressure drugs and antidepressants
    • Chronic illnesses such as diabetes, cardiovascular (heart-related) diseases, hypertension, nerve damage and multiple sclerosis. These illnesses can affect the nerves and the blood flow to the penis.
    • Low levels of testosterone, and injured or damaged nerves and arteries near the penis (due to pelvic surgery)
    • Poor lifestyle, which includes smoking, excessive consumption of alcohol, drug abuse, lack of physical activity, and being overweight.

    The psychological factors include:

    • Fear of sexual failure
    • Guilt
    • Low self esteem
    • Previous traumatic sexual experiences
    • Stress, anxiety, and depression

    The prevalence of ED increases with age, from 5% in men aged 45 years to 50% in men aged over 75 years.

  • There are different treatment options available for ED. Your doctor will evaluate your condition and suggest the treatment that is most suitable for you, depending on the cause of your ED and your general health. Treatments include:

    • External Suction Devices – used to pull blood into the penis in order to obtain and maintain an erection for intercourse
    • Injection Therapy – the second line of treatment if oral medications are unsuccessful. The patient can self-inject a drug (prostaglandin E1) into the shaft of the penis to achieve an erection.
    • Oral Medication – usually the first line of treatment for ED and effective in about 80% of patients (brand names such as Viagra, Levitra, or Cialis). However these may not be suitable for everybody as they can interact with some prescription medications you may be taking.
    • Penile Prosthesis (implants) – surgically fitted for some patients to artificially create an erection
  • ED could be an indication of various underlying diseases including:

    • Early diabetes
    • Heart diseases
    • Neurovascular diseases

    Heart attacks or stroke can develop after taking medications to treat ED.

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