Last year a hilarious Hindi movie was released named Shubh Mangal Savdhan. It was around the topic of erectile dysfunction that the leading man suffers from. Though people consider it a taboo subject, Shubh Mangal Savadhan brought it out to the public in a sensitive manner and also brought out many laughs. Everyone would remember for a long time the scene with the Parle-G biscuit.
So what is erectile dysfunction and how is one diagnosed with it? Erectile dysfunction is the inability get an erection and keep it firm enough for sex. Trouble getting an erection doesn’t always mean erectile dysfunction, but if it goes on for an extended period of time, it could be a cause for concern. It could be caused due to an underlying health issue. Erectile dysfunction can make a person lose self-confidence and also lead to problems in a relationship.
Many people who suffer from erectile dysfunction are too embarrassed to talk about it to anyone, but getting medical attention early can help relieve the symptoms of the condition. If erectile dysfunction is accompanied by delayed or premature ejaculation, heart disease, diabetes or other health conditions, it is essential to see an expert right away.
Causes of Erectile Dysfunction
Sexual arousal in men is a complex process that involves the brain, hormones, nerves, muscles, emotions and blood vessels. A problem with any of these factors can lead to erectile dysfunction. Below are the instances of physical conditions that can cause erectile dysfunction -
- 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
Treatment for Erectile Dysfunction
The treatment of erectile dysfunction is given according to the cause of the condition. First, the doctor tries to figure the reason for the condition, the reason could be due to problems with the blood flow in the penis, diabetes, heart condition, low testosterone levels, nerve problems etc..
The different approaches to treatment include:
Increasing Blood Flow:
The following oral medications increase the effects of nitric oxide in the body, thus increasing blood flow and helping men get an erection in response to sexual stimulation.
Tadalafil (Adcirca, Cialis)
Vardenafil (Levitra, Staxyn)
The medication should only be taken on prescription by a doctor because the treatment should only be done after necessary investigations into the reason for erectile dysfunction. Also, the dosage and medication type can only be zeroed in after consultation with an expert.
But these medications can also have side effects like headaches, nasal congestion, visual changes, flushing, backache and stomach upset.
Increasing testosterone level:
Testosterone replacement therapy is given to men who have low levels of testosterone hormones. This is taken as the first approach to erectile dysfunction in case of low testosterone and sometimes combined with other therapies.
If medication does not help, another means of inducing erection is to insert a tiny alprostadil suppository inside the penile urethra. It is inserted using a special device. It causes an erection in about 10 minutes and keeps up (pun unintended) for about an hour.
The side-effects include little bleeding in the urethra, slight pain and formation of fibrous tissue inside the penis.
If medication is possibly dangerous for certain patients, doctors advise the use pumps and implants.
Like the medication that increases blood flow to the penis, the electrical or manual penis pump creates a vacuum around the penis which pulls blood into it. Once erection of the penis is firm, a ring is attached to the base of the penis to keep the blood flow in place and the erection intact. After which the vacuum pump is removed.
Side-effects include bruising of the penis and restricted ejaculation.
Implants are the last resort if other methods do not get results. In this therapy, implants are surgically placed on either side of the penis which are either inflatable or malleable. These inflatable devices allow control of erection, including how long it should remain firm.
When erectile dysfunction is caused due to stress or other psychological reasons, doctors recommend counselling for the man and his partner.
One of the major reasons people do not come forward with their condition of erectile dysfunction is the thought that men with the condition are not masculine enough. The foremost measure to be taken up by society is to do away with such harmful notions. Some lifestyle choices worsen the condition like smoking, alcohol consumption, excess weight, relationship troubles, stress and anxiety, drug abuse and lack of exercise. Ensuring the right lifestyle choices are made can help tackle erectile dysfunction.