Erectile Dysfunction – Overview
Erectile dysfunction (E.D.), a condition that affects at least 30 million American men, is defined as the inability to achieve an erection sufficient for intercourse. Erectile dysfunction is not a normal part of the aging process. Nevertheless, half of all men between the ages of 40-70 experience some degree of E.D. Approximately 17% experience minimal and 25% experience moderate difficulties, while some men are unable to achieve any erection.
Over 90% of E.D. cases are organic (not in your head). Common causes of organic E.D. include medications (especially blood pressure, heart, and antidepressant medications) and medical diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, vascular disease, elevated cholesterol, and high blood pressure.
Physchogenic E.D. is due to non-organic causes such as “fear of failure.” Regardless of the cause, it is still possible to have a satisfying love life even if the underlying cause of E.D. cannot be corrected.
Stress, fatigue, or relationship problems are all factors that can contribute to erectile dysfunction. Certain medicines like tranquilizers, antihistamines, diuretics, high blood pressure medication, and medication for depression can also lead to impotence. The use of alcohol and tobacco can be contributing factors as well. Impotence might also occur because of diabetes or atherosclerosis, which can block the blood flow to the penis. In younger men, psychological problems tend to more commonly be the cause of impotence, though other causes should to be considered in consultation with a physician.
For a detailed discussion of the diagnosis and management of erectile dysfunction, click here for the American Urological Association’s clinical guidelines.