Erectile dysfunction, or ED, which used to be referred to as impotence, was one of those health issues that was rarely discussed. Today, however, you’d be hard pressed to go a day without seeing advertisements about treating the condition.
Erectile dysfunction affects tens of millions of American men in the United States. In fact, an estimated 30 million men in the United States suffer from ED.
But, what do you really know about ED aside from the oral medications used to treat it? In this blog, the highly skilled providers at Generations Family Practice in Cary and Raleigh, North Carolina, share their insights on things no one may have told you about erectile dysfunction.
The mechanics of an erection
In order to fully understand the complexities of erectile dysfunction, let’s take a look at the mechanics of an erection. Under normal conditions, sexual arousal causes nerves to release chemicals that enhance blood flow into the penis. Blood flow is specifically directed to two erection chambers, which are composed of porous muscle tissue.
During an erection, the porous tissues loosen up and trap blood. This process, in turn, increases the blood pressure in the chambers, which firms up or stiffens the penis, creating an erection. At the time of a man’s orgasm, a second series of nerve signals are relayed to the penis, causing the tissues to contract. Blood pressure in the chambers lessens, and the erection comes down.
In the case of erectile dysfunction, underlying factors halt or disrupt the erection process, preventing a man from getting or sustaining an erection that's firm enough for satisfactory sexual intercourse. Often, the cause of erectile dysfunction is a combination of factors, including problems with blood flow, nerve or blood vessel damage, prescription medication side effects, or emotional factors. The good news is that erectile dysfunction is highly treatable.
ED is not an inevitable part of aging
One of the more encouraging lesser-known facts about ED is that it's not a normal part of the aging process. Although ED is more common as men get older, men can and do enjoy satisfying sex well into their senior years. If you’ve noticed a difference in your ability to sustain an erection, contact your doctor, so they can figure out what’s going on and get you back to feeling and acting more like yourself again.
ED can be a symptom of a serious medical condition
Although erectile dysfunction can wreak havoc to your sex life, it’s typically not a dangerous or serious condition. However, ED can be an early symptom of a serious chronic medical problem, such as cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, vascular disorders, or metabolic conditions, such as diabetes. In fact, 35-50% of diabetic men also experience ED.
Depression can make ED worse
Unfortunately, ED can affect your emotional well-being by triggering anxiety and depression, which can worsen ED symptoms. Furthermore, if you suffer from depression or high blood pressure, certain antidepressants as well as high blood medicines can also cause ED as a side effect. If you have ED and are taking antidepressants or medications to control your blood pressure, speak to your doctor about alternatives.
ED is treatable
Thankfully, gone are the days when erectile dysfunction was pushed aside as something that you just have to live with. Erectile dysfunction is highly treatable and is one many men’s health issues that we address here at Generations Family Practice.
We build ongoing, trusting relationships with our patients, so that addressing sensitive issues, such as ED, can become more natural and less embarrassing. Our compassionate, experienced medical team can work with you to address the underlying cause and develop a successful ED treatment plan.
For an estimated 7 in 10 men, oral medications relieve the symptoms of ED. ED drugs work by loosening the tissues in the penis to enhance blood flow. Other ED treatments include penile injections, testosterone therapy, penile pumps, and counseling.
If you’re suffering from erectile dysfunction or notice changes in your ability to sustain an erection, book an appointment online or over the phone with Generations Family Practice today.