What is Erectile Dysfunction?
When a man becomes aroused, the brain releases a neurochemical to increase the size of blood vessels carrying blood to the penis and reduces the size of the vessels that carry it out. Twin compartments that run the length of the penis, called corpora cavernosa, become flush with blood that is trapped in the shaft. This causes the penis to stiffen and become erect.
If blood flow to the penis is inhibited or the blood vessels are clogged or constricted, erection cannot be achieved or maintained. This is one of the primary causes of erectile dysfunction.
Erectile dysfunction or ED, is a common medical condition that affects over half of men between the ages of 40 and 70. Though all men may experience an occasional lapse of sexual function, ED is the persistent inability to achieve an erection, despite being sexually aroused.
In some cases, the penis may become partially erect but is not hard enough to have intercourse. In other cases, the penis will become fully erect at first, but the erection cannot be maintained.
ED is sometimes called impotence, but whatever label is applied, men who are afflicted all face the same anxiety and embarrassment over performance issues. These emotions can literally set in motion further inability to perform, avoidance of sex and withdrawal from intimate relationships.
Men need to be reminded that ED is a treatable medical condition that is not related to masculinity or sexual prowess.
The Causes of ED
Male sexual health involves a complex mix of physical and psychological components. Though the outcome of ED (impotence) is the inability to achieve or maintain erection, the causes of the condition can start in the body or the brain. Stress, anxiety or depression only worsen the condition, often creating a cycle of performance problems.
As they reach middle age, one of the most common causes for men are vasculogenic issues, where blood flow to the penis is constricted. Tobacco use, high cholesterol, blood vessels constricted by plaque (atherosclerosis) and heart disease can be a contributing factor to vascular problems. These are often the very conditions that make pharmaceutical solutions like PDE inhibitors too much of a health risk.
Numerous medical conditions are also associated with the onset of ED, including diabetes, MS, Parkinson’s Disease, obesity, substance abuse and even sleep apnea. Additionally, certain medications, treatments and surgeries can cause male sexual dysfunction.
ED Treatment Options and Other Services
There are number of ways to respond to the symptoms of ED (listed below). We highly encourage you to discuss your options with your doctor.
PDE inhibitors are by far the most familiar treatment option for ED. The pills open the blood vessels in the penis to allow proper blood flow in the event of arousal. They must be taken prior to sexual encounters, last approximately 4 hours and can pose a risk to some men with certain health conditions.
Mental and emotional health can be key factors in sexual wellness. Stress, anxiety or depression can impact libido, and a man or woman’s ability to engage with their partner. Seeking assistance from a mental health professional may help alleviate the underlying causes of the condition. The Elna Sexual Wellness Center offers sex therapy services.
In shockwave therapy, our doctors apply low intensity shockwaves that open constricted blood vessel in the penis. The treatment restores blood flow that allows for spontaneous erection upon arousal, with no drug or side effects. You can resume normal activities immediately.
PRP therapy for men (the P-Shot) can be a relatively fast and effective way of boosting libido. The use of a man’s own blood factors to boost sexual response carries no heart-related risks. The injection floods the penis with regeneration cells that immediately begin revitalizing muscle, tissue and nerves.