WHAT IS ERECTILE DYSFUNCTION?
Erectile dysfunction is one of the most common sexual related problems seen in men. Erectile dysfunction, also referred to as ED or impotence is the inability to maintain or keep an erection of the penis adequate for the sexual satisfaction of both partners.
Having erection difficulty once, in a while, is not really something to worry about as it can be as a result of stress but if it is experienced often, it can be as a result of disease conditions or underlying health problem. However, people suffering from erectile dysfunction do have issues with self-esteem and it also causes relationship problems.
CAUSES OF ERECTILE DYSFUNCTION
Male sexual arousal is accompanied by important mechanisms that involve the brain, nerves, muscles, hormones, emotions and blood vessels. Erectile dysfunction can be caused by physical and psychological effects and sometimes, it can be caused by both physical and psychological problems.
Erectile dysfunction caused by physical effects can slow down male sexual response thereby causing difficulty in attaining or maintaining an erection.
PHYSICAL CAUSES OF ERECTILE DYSFUNCTION
The physical causes of erectile dysfunction includes:
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Parkinson’s disease
- Multiple sclerosis
- Narrow blood vessels
- Sleep disorder
- Prostrate disease treatment
- Metabolic syndrome
- Clogged blood vessels (atherosclerosis)
- Peyronie’s disease
ERECTILE DYSFUNCTION CAUSED BY HEART DISEASE
Erectile dysfunction caused by heart disease often occurs due to the dysfunction of the inner lining of the blood vessels (i.es the endothelium) and smooth muscle. Endothelial dysfunction causes the insufficient blood supply to the heart and impaired blood flow to the penile and this causes atherosclerosis.
ERECTILE DYSFUNCTION CAUSED BY HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE
High blood pressure is one of the major causes of erectile dysfunction in men. High blood pressure tends to keep the arteries that transport blood into the penis from dilating in the normal way. High blood pressure causes the smooth muscles in the penis to lose their ability to relax and this prevents inadequate blood flows into the penis and prevents erection thereby resulting in erection dysfunction. Men with high blood pressure can also have a low testosterone level. Testosterone is known as the “male hormone” and it plays a major role in sexual arousal.
Also, some drugs used in the treatment of high blood pressure can actually cause erectile dysfunction. Diuretics and beta-blockers are the common drugs used to treat high blood pressure which can also be linked to erectile dysfunction.
Diuretics cause erectile dysfunction by reducing the force of blood flow into the penis whereas, the penis needs adequate blood flow to attain and also maintain an erection. Diuretics may also reduce the zinc content in the body. Men need zinc in the body in other to make testosterone which is the male hormone.
Beta-blockers slow the response to nerve impulses that can generate penile erection. Beta-blockers prevent the arteries in the penis to be dilated to allow easy flow of blood into the penis.
ERECTILE DYSFUNCTION CAUSED BY DIABETES
Men with diabetes experience erectile dysfunction more than men without diabetes. The causes of erectile dysfunction in men with diabetes are complex and it is accompanied by nerve, muscle function, and blood vessel. In other, for men to be able to attain and maintain erection there are several things that must accompany erection. These include healthy blood vessels, male hormones, nerves, and sexual arousal.
ERECTILE DYSFUNCTION CAUSED BY HIGH CHOLESTEROL
The effect of cholesterol can alter men sexual life. A man having sexual arousal when in contact with his partner, the body releases a chemical that causes the penile arteries to relax and these arteries are called “corpora cavernosa”. The arteries become dilated thereby causing the corpora cavernosa to be filled with blood. When the arteries are filled with blood the penis becomes erect.
Too much low level density lipoprotein (LDL) also known as bad cholesterol in the bloodstreams causes arterial plaque that damage and prevents blood flow. Thereby causing inadequate circulation and transportation of blood throughout the body system and this includes the penis and genital area. When there is inadequate blood flow in the penis, erectile dysfunction is seen. The higher the low level density lipoprotein level (LDL) in the body, the more it is likely to experience erectile dysfunction.
Also, where there is high level of high density lipoprotein (HDL) also known as good cholesterol can cause erectile dysfunction. When there is high level of cholesterol in the body, the more it is likely for the body to experience difficulty in producing some necessary or important chemicals. High cholesterol level alters the body ability to release adequate nitric oxide into the bloodstream. Whereas, insufficient or inadequate nitric oxide in the body prevents the relaxation of penile tissues to cause an erection.
The presence of high cholesterol in the body affects the production of testosterone hormone. High cholesterol reduces the blood flow in the testicles and this can alter the production of testosterone in the body.
ERECTILE DYSFUNCTION CAUSED BY PARKINSON’S DISEASE
Parkinson’s disease can be defined as a progressive neurological disease that alters the production of dopamine in the brain and which in turn affects the control of body movement and sexual function. Parkinson’s disease or its treatments may cause erectile dysfunction. People with Parkinson’s disease have a low desire for carryout sexual activities.
Parkinson’s disease is a health condition that affects both genders (i.es Parkinson’s disease affects men and women). Men with Parkinson’s disease find it difficult to attain or maintain erection likewise women with Parkinson’s disease experience vagina dryness. Also, reaching orgasm may be difficult for both men and women with Parkinson’s disease.
Parkinson’s disease is incurable. However, the symptoms can be managed with surgery and medication. Medication used in managing symptoms can reduce sexual arousal regardless of gender.
ERECTILE DYSFUNCTION CAUSED BY MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS
It is one of the most common symptoms seen in multiple sclerosis in men. Multiple sclerosis is a health condition that is characterized by the progressive damage of nerves. This damaged nerves often involve nerves that are responsible for penile erection. However, when the nerves responsible for penile erection are damaged, this will have a negative effect on sexual arousal and erectile dysfunction can occur.
ERECTILE DYSFUNCTION CAUSED BY OBESITY
Obesity is one of the important factors that contribute to erectile disease. Men who are obese or overweight may have high cholesterol levels and are also at greater risk of having high blood pressure (hypertension) and cardiovascular disease. Also, when an individual is obese, the person is likely to have diabetes and diabetes on its own is one of the major causes of erectile dysfunction. Overweight is not good for one’s overall health as it can cause other health conditions apart from erectile dysfunction. Obesity is associated with lots of health conditions.
ERECTILE DYSFUNCTION CAUSED BY SLEEP DISORDER
The most common type of sleep apnea is obstructive sleep apnea and it is a potential health condition. Sleep disorder can alter testosterone and oxygen levels in men. This can cause many health conditions which include erectile dysfunction.
Obstructive sleep apnea in men causes the testosterone hormone level to be reduced and also alter the oxygen level in the body. Whereas testosterone and oxygen are one of the most important causes of penile erection. Inadequate levels of testosterone and oxygen can cause erectile dysfunction.
ERECTILE DYSFUNCTION CAUSED BY PROSTATE DISEASE TREATMENT
Prostate gland is located just below the bladder and it is a walnut-shaped gland. It is found around the tube that carries semen and urine through the penis. The prostate makes seminal fluid which is part of the semen. Prostate disease treatment may affect testosterone hormones in the body which may in turn cause erectile dysfunction.
Also, the nerves which are responsible for an erection are located very close to the prostate gland and the radiation therapy which is used to treat prostate disease can damage the delicate tissues that are responsible for penile erection such as nerves, blood flow, and blood vessels.
ERECTILE DYSFUNCTION CAUSED BY METABOLIC SYNDROME
Metabolic syndrome is not a health condition that occurs on its own. However, metabolic syndrome is caused by several underlying health conditions and this underlying health condition can cause erectile dysfunction. The underlying health condition includes high blood pressure (hypertension), unhealthy cholesterol levels, abdominal fat, and high blood sugar. Even, unhealthy cholesterol levels and high blood pressure (hypertension) are enough to alter penile erection.
ERECTILE DYSFUNCTION CAUSE BY CLOGGED BLOOD VESSELS (ATHEROSCLEROSIS)
Clogged blood vessels (atherosclerosis) is one of the common cause of blood flow difficulty. Atherosclerosis cause clogging or narrowing of arteries in the penis, which prevents the circulation or flowing of blood in the penis to ensure penile erection. When there is an inadequate supply of blood to the penis, it will be difficult or impossible to attain or maintain erection thereby causing erectile dysfunction.
ERECTILE DYSFUNCTION CAUSED BY PEYRONIE’S DISEASE
Peyronie’s disease is the development of fibrous scar tissue inside the penis which causes the penis to be curved and also cause a painful penile erection. Peyronie’s disease in men makes it difficult for men to attain or maintain an erection. Peyronie’s disease causes penile pain and erection dysfunction.
Also, Peyronie’s disease can be seen in men with connective tissue disorder and they are also likely to have erectile dysfunction.
Other causes of erectile dysfunction caused by physical effects include:
- Injury in the spinal cord
- Injury in the pelvic region
- Radiation therapy of the pelvic region
- Surgical complications
- Substance abuse
- Tobacco intake
- Hormonal disorder such as thyroid disease and testosterone deficiency
- Structural and anatomical disorder of the penis
PSYCHOLOGICAL CAUSES OF ERECTILE DYSFUNCTION
The brain plays a major role in triggering the series of events that cause an erected penis. This always begins with sexual arousal. However, there are some factors that can alter the sexual feeling negatively thereby causing erectile dysfunction or worsen the problem. In severe cases, men may always have had erectile dysfunction and may be unable to achieve an erectile penis.
The psychological causes of erectile dysfunction include:
- Health status
- Fear of intimacy
ERECTILE DYSFUNCTION CAUSED BY DEPRESSION
The brain also plays an important role in sexual excitement. Sexual excitement begins in the head and works its way down to the penis. Depression can alter one’s sexual arousal and this can lead to erectile dysfunction. Also, many of the medications used to treat depression can also suppress men sex drive and make it difficult to get an erection and this may result to delay in reaching orgasm.
ERECTILE DYSFUNCTION CAUSED BY MEDICATIONS
There are certain drugs that are used to treat health conditions and this medication can cause erectile dysfunction. They can also alter a negative effect on hormones, blood circulation, and nerves which increase the risk of having erectile dysfunction.
The numerous prescription medications that can cause erectile dysfunction include:
- Diuretics and high blood pressure drugs such as hydrochlorothiazide, furosemide, chlorthalidone, Bumetanide, Triamterene, Guanfacine, Clonidine, Methyldopa, Verapamil, Hydralazine, Nifedipine, Captopril, Metoprolol, Enalapril, Propanolol, Atenolol, Spironolactone, Labetalol.
- Antihistamine drugs such as Dimenhydrinate, Hydroxyzine, Meclizine, Diphenhydramine, promethazine
- Antidepressants, antiepileptic drugs and anti-anxiety drugs such as Tranylcypromine, Fluoxetine, Isocarboxazid, Amoxapine, Sertraline, Clomipramine, Phenytoin, Lorazepam, Imipramine, Oxazepam, Diazepam, Chlordiazepoxide, Clorazepate, Buspirone, Nortriptyline, Desipramine, Phenelzine.
- Parkinson’s disease medications such as Benztropine, Procyclidine, Bromocriptine, Levodopa, Biperiden, Trihexyphenidyl.
- Histamine H2-receptor antagonists such as cimetidine, Ranitidine, Nizatidine.
- Prostate cancer medications such as Leuprolide, Flutamide
- Antiarrhythmics such as Disopyramide (Norpace)
- Muscle relaxant drugs such as Orphenadrine, Cyclobenzaprine
- Chemotherapy drugs such as Cyclophosphamide, Busulfan
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as Indomethacin, Naproxen
- Some cancer drugs such as chemotherapeutic agents
ERECTILE DYSFUNCTION CAUSED BY ALCOHOL
Heavy alcohol intake can interfere with erections. However, the effect of alcohol on erection is usually temporary. Also, heavy alcohol consumption can cause coronary artery disease and liver disease which can also cause erectile dysfunction in men.
ERECTILE DYSFUNCTION CAUSE BY ANXIETY
Anxiety can also be the cause of erectile dysfunction. However, it is a temporary cause of erectile dysfunction. Anxiety is more likely to be seen in the first timer (partner having sex for the first time). Getting anxious about how to satisfy your partner may cause erectile dysfunction.
ERECTILE DYSFUNCTION CAUSED BY STRESS
When an individual is overwhelmed with lots of responsibilities it is difficult to get sexually aroused. When a man is stressed up getting a penile erection might be difficult to attain or maintain which causes erectile dysfunction.
ERECTILE DYSFUNCTION CAUSED BY HEALTH STATUS
Healthy health can cause a perfect erection. However, certain health conditions or unhealthy health can affect nerves, blood vessels, and muscles for erection negatively. Diabetes, spinal cord injuries, pelvic injuries, high blood pressure (hypertension) and multiple sclerosis can also contribute to erectile dysfunction.
Also, surgery treatment to prostate disease or bladder disease can also affect the nerves, muscles and blood vessels that control penile erection.
ERECTILE DYSFUNCTION CAUSED BY ANGER
As we all know that there is nothing good that comes out of anger. Anger can alter some important organ that is responsible for penile erection. It is not easy to feel romantic or it is almost impossible to have sexual arousal when you are raging. Without sexual arousal, it is not possible for a penile erection to set in.
TREATMENT OF ERECTILE DYSFUNCTION
Erectile dysfunction treatment can be pills, drug insertion into the tip of the penis or injections into the penis.
The drugs often prescribed for men with erectile dysfunction are pills like
- Sildenafil (Viagra)
- Avanafil (Stendra)
- Vardenafil (Staxyn, Levitra)
- Tadalafil (Cialis)
These medications are to be used between 15 minutes to 36 hours before having sex.
Vardenafil (Staynx) is dissolved in the mouth while other medications are to be swallowed. These medications are said to be an effective treatment for erectile dysfunction.
Side effects of these medications include:
- Muscle ache
- Stuffy nose
These medications are to be avoided when taking nitrates drugs for heart disease. Taking these medications with nitrates drugs for heart disease can cause a drastic drop in blood pressure. Also, caution should be taken when using alpha-blockers for blood pressure or prostate problems.
Before using any drugs it is health wise to seek health practitioner’s advice.
INJECTIONS AND SUPPOSITORIES
Injection and suppositories are to be used when the pills are not effective for the person or aren’t safe for individual mental health. Health Practitioners may prescribe a drug called “Alprostadil”.
Alprostadil drug helps to boost the supply and flow of blood in the penis. Which brings about penile erection within a short period of time.
A vacuum device is used to improves the firmness of the penis by boosting blood supply or blood flow to the penis. This device is very effective in attaining and maintaining erection enough for sex.
A Vacuum device is also used for penile rehabilitation, usually after prostate disease has been treated by surgery.
Vacuum erection device, also referred to as vacuum constriction devices are made up of three major parts. They are:
- A clear, neat plastic tube that slides over the penis
- A battery operated pump or manual pump that sucks the air out of the cylinder, which allows more blood to flow to the penis
- A clean elastic ring that is placed around the base of the penis after an erection has been obtained. The elastic ring is a rubber band –like shape which helps to maintain firmness by preventing blood from draining out of the penis.
Sides effect of vacuum device for erection may be caused by an elastic ring. This elastic ring can cause skin irritation, sensitivity, bruising or pain.
Surgery can only be recommended for erectile dysfunction when all erectile dysfunction treatments have failed. Your doctor will recommend the appropriate surgery for your erectile dysfunction base on the cause.
The recommend operation includes:
- Vascular reconstruction surgery.
- Placement of prosthesis or an implant in the penis
VASCULAR RECONSTRUCTION SURGERY. This surgery out is carried out in other to improve blood flow or reduce and prevent blood leakage from the penis and its surrounding structures. Prostheses help to restore penile firmness in men.
There are two types of implants. They are:
- Inflatable implants
- Malleable implants
These are a pair of tubes that are placed in the penis and connected to a squeezable pump which is located inside the scrotum. When you squeeze the squeezable pump, this causes a penile erection. Inflatable implants can also slightly increase the length and width of the penis.
Once a person suffering from erectile dysfunction have a penile implant, it must be used to get a penile erection.
These are a pair of bendable rods that are placed inside the penis. When this bendable rod is fixed inside the penis, you will be able to move your penis manually and the rods into a suitable position for sex.
Malleable implants do not affect penis size, unlike Inflatable implants.
Implants when use may cause infection. Men with erectile dysfunction that are also suffering from certain infections such as skin infection, systemic infection and urinary tract infection are not advised to use implants to attain and maintain a penile erection.
Sides effect of implants.
Implants can make it difficult to carry out surgery on bladder cancer, enlarged prostate, prostate cancer, and other urological conditions.
Vascular reconstruction surgery plays an important role in the repair of blood vessels blockages to improve blood flow to the penis and also prevent future blockages of blood vessels.
PREVENTION OF ERECTILE DYSFUNCTION
There are important ways to prevent erectile dysfunction. However, the best way erectile dysfunction can be prevented is through a healthy lifestyle choice and to manage any existing health problems. In other to manage existing health condition there will always be a need to see your doctor. Never be to shy to express how you feel to your doctor, communication is the key. Avoid smoking and stop or limit the intake of alcohol. Exercise regularly, eat a healthy diet and always go for medical checkups at least once in 2 weeks.