Approximately 30 million American men are affected with erectile dysfunction (ED). ED is the most common sexual problem for men with many causes related to the development. Men suffering from ED often face self-image issues along with feelings of frustration and depression.
Most men, at some time in their life, likely will have an occasional problem with ED. Also, as each birthday goes by, the chances of ED increases. Men who have an inability to get and maintain an erection sufficient for sexual intercourse is the main symptom of ED. However, men can also experience other sexual disorders, such as delayed ejaculation, premature ejaculation, or anorgasmia, resulting in a man’s inability to orgasm after sexual stimulation. These sexual disorders can disrupt a couple’s intimate relationship satisfaction and enjoyment.
What are the main causes of erectile dysfunction?
Erectile dysfunction can be a result of numerous factors. Some of these factors may include obesity, inactivity, or depression. But here is what is considered the top 5 medical issues that can lead to ED:
The more medications a man takes, the greater his chance of suffering from ED. Often, it’s the prescribed medications that are the main culprits. These medications include antihistamines, antihypertensives, diuretics, muscle relaxers, anti-seizure medications, prostate/cancer drugs, and tranquilizers.
Men should discuss with their doctor the possibility of a prescribed or over-the-counter medications causing ED.
2. Poor blood flow
A firm erection is primarily possible thanks to adequate blood flow to the penis. When a man is sexually aroused, messages from the nervous system in the brain stimulate the penis to relax the muscles of the corpora cavernosa that allow blood to flow into the open spaces. The corpora cavernosa are two columns of spongy tissue that run through the body or shaft of the penis. Blood rushes into the corpora cavernosa, creating pressure that expands the penis, creating an erection. As long nothing inhibits blood from flowing into the penis, men should have little to no problem getting an erection.
However, there are several conditions related to heart disease that can lead to a narrowing or blockage of the blood vessels that lead to the penis, resulting in ED. These conditions include hypertension, high cholesterol, uncontrolled diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.
Men with these medical conditions should have a plan to manage them to improve their chances of avoiding ED. This may include rigorous exercise, eating healthier, and managing stress.
3. Abusing drugs
Men who abuse drugs risk developing ED, which can also lead to long-term issues with getting and maintaining an erection. The worst offenders that disrupt a man’s sex life include alcohol, amphetamines, cocaine, nicotine, and opiates.
The best path for men abusing drugs is to seek medical help to quit for good.
4. Neurological disorders
Illnesses that damage nerves can also affect a man’s ability to get an erection. These neurological disorders include Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, stroke, and diabetes. Men with neurological disorders pose a diagnostic and treatment challenge for their clinicians. In addition, sexual dysfunction is often overlooked and not addressed by healthcare providers. As a result, even patients with these conditions may underreport the problem. This can result in a significant negative impact on their relationship with their partner and quality of life.
When approaching treatment for these patients, a multidisciplinary approach is often best. This may include a neurologist, urologist, nurse practitioner, and a health psychologist. In addition, treatment may include medications such a PDE-5 inhibitors, cognitive behavioral therapy, couples therapy, and lifestyle changes.
5. Bodily injury
Any bodily trauma that damages nerves or reduces blood flow to the penis can result in ED. For example, men with a spinal injury can damage nerves necessary to trigger erections. Extended periods of bicycling are another factor reducing blood flow to the groin. In addition, any type of direct injury to the penis causing damage can also be a factor in causing ED.
These types of bodily injury may result from the following:
- Car accidents
- Burns or exposure to chemicals
- Gunshot or knife wound
- Broken or cracked pelvic bones
- Kicks to the penis/testicles during a fight or sports games
- Excessive sexual activity
Depending on the type and extent of bodily injury, will determine what treatment plan will be implemented. Working with their healthcare provider will be a man’s best bet for finding a solution long-term to achieve a satisfactory sex life once again.
Dr. David Samadi is the Director of Men’s Health and Urologic Oncology at St. Francis Hospital in Long Island. He’s a renowned and highly successful board certified Urologic Oncologist Expert and Robotic Surgeon in New York City, regarded as one of the leading prostate surgeons in the U.S., with a vast expertise in prostate cancer treatment and Robotic-Assisted Laparoscopic Prostatectomy. Dr. Samadi is a medical contributor to NewsMax TV and is also the author of The Ultimate MANual, Dr. Samadi’s Guide to Men’s Health and Wellness, available online both on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Visit Dr. Samadi’s websites at robotic oncology and prostate cancer 911.