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Do You Have Occasional ED? Don’t Panic. Here’s What You Should Know

By: Jonathan Beilan, M.D.

The state of Florida has the fifth-oldest population in the country, with a median age of 42. So, it might not surprise you that Florida outpaces all other southern states when it comes to filling prescriptions for erectile dysfunction (ED).

What might surprise you is that a good number of these prescriptions are probably for men at the median age mark, 42, or younger. This is because an estimated 43% of all men experience ED at one time or another, regardless of age.

If you are among those experiencing occasional ED, you too can find treatment, and not just through medication.

The Reasons Behind Occasional Erectile Dysfunction

Erectile dysfunction is the inability of the penis to become hard enough for intercourse, or difficulty with maintaining this rigidity for satisfactory sexual activity. Typically, ED is due to a lack of blood flow to the penis or damaged penile tissue. It is the most common sexual problem men report, affecting nearly 30 million men – many of whom experience it on a temporary or circumstantial basis, not necessarily chronically.

Still, even occasional ED could signal the onset of an underlying condition, including:

  • Diabetes – High glucose can narrow blood vessels and slow circulation. Nearly 11 million adult U.S. men have diabetes, and 35% to 50% are impotent. Furthermore, diabetic patients are less likely to receive meaningful benefit from oral ED medications such as Sildenafil or Tadalafil.
  • Heart disease – Plaque buildup in the arteries weakens blood vessels and blood flow. Erectile dysfunction can be a key indicator of heart disease.
  • Kidney disease – Your kidneys remove waste from the bloodstream, regulate blood pressure, and produce hormones. Therefore, kidney problems can threaten blood vessels, nerve function, and hormone levels.
  • Prostate conditions – Certain treatments prescribed for an enlarged prostate or prostate cancer, such as anti-testosterone drugs and chemotherapy, can have side effects that can contribute to ED.
  • Peyronie’s disease – This condition results from a buildup of scar tissue inside the penis, and causes curvature that can make an erections difficult and painful.
  • Low testosterone ­– Declining levels of this sexual hormone can result in reduced sexual drive and make erections more difficult.

What You Can Do If You Have Circumstantial ED

Even men in perfect health can experience ED. Emotional and psychological factors including stress, exhaustion, anxiety, and depression are associated with 10% to 20% of ED-related cases. This figure may be higher in younger, healthy populations.

If you experience one or more of these conditions, ask your doctor about talking to a therapist.

Also note that alcohol, smoking, and/or recreational drug use can also raise the risk of ED, even at a young age. If you regularly participate in these activities, hold off for a time to see if your erection improves.

How to Treat Time-to-Time ED: Your Options

If you experience occasional ED and don’t know why, talk to your doctor to determine if it’s the result of an underlying health issue or the side effect of a medication. Then you can choose a treatment option. Among them:

  • Oral medications – Viagra, Levitra, Cialis, and other drugs can improve blood flow to the penis.
  • Inserted drug therapies  Medications also can be self-injected directly into the base or side of the penis or inserted into the tip of the penis in the form of a small suppository. These drugs expand blood vessels to enhance blood flow on an as-needed basis.
  • Vacuum pumps – These hand-powered devices draw blood into the penis so it becomes erect.
  • Surgical therapy – penile protheses have been around since the early 1970’s and are an excellent option for men with moderate to severe ED. The erection still feels natural and the surgery doesn’t affect urination or ejaculation.
  • Low intensity shockwave therapy – This new approach uses a wand-like device to apply gentle pulses of sound waves outside the penis, stimulating the tissue and blood flow. However, use caution when considering this treatment as it’s still considered experimental by most U.S.-based guidelines and not fit for all patients. Patients should speak to a sexual health expert to see if this treatment option is right for them.

When In Doubt, See Your Doctor

If you experience ED, consult with a urologist specializing in sexual health. Whether you experience occasional or chronic ED, we have these conversations every day and are comfortable discussing them with patients. Remember: Treatment options are available, don’t suffer in silence!

Erectile dysfunction is a healthcare issue that should be talked about practically. To consult one of our physicians to diagnose the cause and suggest treatments, you can find an AUI office near you and request an appointment here.

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Advanced Urology Institute

Advanced Urology Institute is the largest urology practice in Florida. We are dedicated to improving the lives of our patients by providing excellent Patient-Centered Care. Set an appointment or visit our closest office near you.

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