What Is Erectile Dysfunction and Impotence?
Erectile dysfunction, or impotence, is a condition in which a man cannot get an erection firm enough to have sex. Occasional erectile dysfunction is common and usually not a cause for concern. However, if you have ongoing issues getting and keeping an erection, it is important to talk to your doctor.
Erectile dysfunction can lead to stress, lower self-confidence or relationship issues. It can also be a sign of an underlying health condition.
Erectile dysfunction can be caused by both physical and mental issues. Physical issues may include clogged blood vessels, which affect blood flow throughout the body; diabetes; high cholesterol; and high blood pressure. Mental issues might include stress at work. Drug and alcohol abuse, obesity and certain medications can also contribute to impotence.
The symptoms of erectile dysfunction include:
Decreased sexual desire and arousal
Difficulty getting an erection
Difficulty keeping an erection
You should also talk to your doctor if you have erectile dysfunction accompanied by:
Delayed or premature ejaculation
Erectile dysfunction treatment depends on what is causing your symptoms in the first place. Your doctor will ask you questions and may run a few tests to determine the underlying cause, whether it is physical or psychological, or a combination of both.
Treatments for erectile dysfunction include:
Oral medications – Pills taken by mouth
Alprostadil self-injection – Giving yourself an injection at the base of your penis
Alprostadil urethral suppository – Inserting a tiny suppository inside your penis
Testosterone replacement – Hormone therapy to address low testosterone
Vacuum pump therapy – An external pump used to enhance blood flow in the penis
Surgical devices – A semi-rigid penile prosthesis or the more natural inflatable penile prosthesis
Your doctor may use blood tests, ultrasound, a physical exam, urine tests or a psychological exam to help determine the cause of your erectile dysfunction.
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