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Erectile Dysfunction

Definition:
Erectile dysfunction is also known as impotency or impotence.  It is the inability to keep a firm erection for sexual intercourse.  Impotency refers to other issues like a decrease with sexual desire and ejaculation and orgasm dysfunction.  Erectile dysfunction refers to the constant problem of keeping an erection.

Causes:
Temporary erection problems may be caused by increased alcohol consumption.  Stress, fatigue and drug use also hinders erection.  Some may have experienced an injury that may have damaged the nerves in the penis.  Medications such as blood pressure drugs, antidepressants, ulcer drugs and tranquilizers may have side effects that may lead to erectile dysfunction.  Anxiety and depression may also lead to impotency.  It may be helpful to identify the cause, if possible, when trying to treat impotency. 

The most common cause of erectile dysfunction is from nerve damage (possible from surgery), muscle damage, or injuries to fibrous tissues or arteries.  About 70 percent of erectile dysfunction cases are from kidney disease, diabetes, alcoholism, atherosclerosis, neurological or vascular disease and multiple sclerosis.  Men with diabetes have experienced impotency on average between 35 to 50 percent. 

Smoking may also cause impotency because it can affect the normal flow of blood like to the penis.  Lack of testosterone from a hormonal ailment can also lead to erectile dysfunction.  

What is an erection? 

Many elements go into achieving an erection.  The vascular and neurological systems come together under the control of the central nervous system which integrates psychological stimuli (like desire).  

Once all of these elements come together, two chambers in the penis, the copora cavernosa, which run along the length of the penis, start to fill with blood.  The penis expands as blood fills the space in the copora cavernosa.  The tunica albuginea is a membrane that surrounds the copora cavernosa.  This membrane helps to trap blood inside the penis to achieve an erection.  When the blood entering the penis is stopped (from the contraction of muscles within the penis) the erection is lost. 

Treatment: 

If any medications that cause erectile dysfunction as a side effect are used, that may lead to discovering the cause of this problem.  Illegal drugs also cause impotency, and eliminating the consumption of these illegal drugs can alleviate the problem. 

The doctor may begin with a few questions on assessing the cause of erectile dysfunction.  Medical history and sexual history will be gathered to see if the problem stems from this.  A physical examination may then be conducted.  Blood work may follow to test for problems with hormones amongst other things.  Nocturnal erections may be monitored.  Healthy men have erections during their sleep.  

Prevention: 

Altering your lifestyle can help with erectile dysfunction if the cause is not medical or nerve damage related.  A healthy diet, quit smoking, physical exercise, curbing alcohol consumption, getting enough rest and decreasing stress levels may help in restoring erectile function. 

Popular Erectile Dysfunction Medication: 

Some people have turned to sildenafil citrate known on the market as Viagra for help with erectile dysfunction.  Since March 1998, many more men have felt comfortable in discussing erectile dysfunction or impotency problems with their doctors.  Viagra is a blue pill that is consumed orally and helps in attaining an erection.  Vardenafil HCl known as Levitra is another drug that may help. 

Levitra and Viagra are taken before any sexual activity, about one hour prior.  These drugs work on increasing the effects of nitric oxide in the body.  Nitric oxide is a chemical that is already present in the body and works by relaxing muscles in the penis and increases blood flow during sexual excitement to achieve an erection.  These drugs may only be taken once a day.  Oral medication is not recommended for everyone since there are side effects.  

Other treatments include implants that are surgically placed inside the penis.  These “rods” are inflated when needed to achieve an erection.  Vacuum pump devices have helped some people.  Drug therapy and natural remedies like ginkgo biloba, ginseng and muira puama have been suggested as helpful. 

 

 

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