What is erectile dysfunction?
One speaks of erectile dysfunction when the man is unable to produce and maintain a satisfactory erection for a long period of time. The penis relaxes after a short time or does not reach a sufficient erected condition for sexual intercourse. This makes a fulfilled sexual life almost impossible. An erectile dysfunction will occur after about six months, in which, in the majority of cases, no erection sufficient for sexual intercourse was obtained. Short-term erectile dysfunction, which disappears after a few weeks, is not called erectile dysfunction. Temporary erectile dysfunction can occur, for example, in psychological problems such as twinning or other difficulties.
Who is affected by erectile dysfunction?
Erectile dysfunction is a subject of shame for many men. There is very little data on the frequency of erectile dysfunction in German men. In 2000, a study was conducted with results of a questionnaire for erectile dysfunction published, which was answered by 4,883 men between 30 and 80 years. It became clear that erectile dysfunction affects older men more frequently than younger men. In the group of 30- to 39-year-olds, only 2.3 percent said they were suffering from erectile dysfunction. In the age group of the 50- to 59-year-olds it was 15.7 percent, in the 60- to 69-year-old was every third affected.
How is an erectile dysfunction diagnosed?
The diagnosis of erectile dysfunction can already be made after a thoroughly collected medical history by the doctor. What is crucial is that, for about half a year, the preponderance of the tests does not lead to an erection that allows satisfactory sexual intercourse.
Are further tests performed after the diagnosis of an erectile dysfunction?
Patients with erectile dysfunctions suffer above-average cardiac disorders such as hypertension, diabetes mellitus or increased cholesterol levels in the blood. Therefore, your doctor will ask more questions after the diagnosis of erectile dysfunction and may want to take a blood sample.
Erectile dysfunction can also be caused by medication, past surgery or psychological problems. The treating physician will ask about all these issues to find the reason for the erectile dysfunction.
What are causes of erectile dysfunction?
Erectile dysfunction can have physical causes – this is especially true for erectile dysfunction in middle and older age. Mention is especially the hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis) as the main cause of erectile dysfunction. Arteriosclerosis is caused by hypertension (Hypertension), and a present arteriosclerosis indicates a markedly increased risk of heart attack and stroke. For this reason, it is so important that the treating physician not only treat the erectile dysfunction but also the overall physical constitution of the affected person. Further possible physical causes of erectile dysfunction are previous operations in the abdominal and pelvic area as well as ulcers (tumours) in the abdominal and pelvic area.
Younger sufferers report more often than elderly people about psychological problems. Stress can affect the work or the relationship, but also all other unresolved problems or conflicts can have an adverse effect on the erection.
Frequently the causes of the erectile dysfunction cannot be exactly diagnosed. Psychological problems can in many cases strengthen physical factors so that the erection is adversely affected. This, in turn, reduces self-awareness and increases insecurity in sexual intercourse. In this way, many sufferers get into a negative loop of physical and psychological nature.
What are the risk factors for impotence?
Some factors that lead to erectile dysfunction are preventable, others are not. The following risk factors exist for an erection disorder:
- High blood pressure and high cholesterol (cardiovascular diseases)
- Diabetes: Type 2 (the most common form, usually goes hand in hand with overweight)
- Mental stress
- Long-term smoking, alcohol abuse, and drug abuse – all of this worsens the arteries
- Medicines for hypertension and depression (among others)
- Treatments for prostate cancer
- Injuries or damage to the nerves in the pelvic region (abdomen), which control the erection
What are the main causes of erectile dysfunction?
The most common reason for an erectile dysfunction is arteriosclerosis. Causes of arteriosclerosis are hypertension, an elevated cholesterol level, and a lack of physical activity. Narrowed arteries and veins prevent the unimpeded blood flow in the entire body, as well as in the erectile dysfunction of the penis. If the corpuscles do not fill properly with blood, there is no sufficient hard erection of the penis.
“Diabetes mellitus” is characterized by very high blood sugar levels. These lead to a thickening of the inner walls of the blood vessels, which means that not enough blood can flow into the erectile tissue. The most common form of diabetes is type 2 diabetes, which is favored by overweight, lack of exercise and poor diet.
Low testosterone level
Also, too low a testosterone level is a rare but possible cause of erectile dysfunction. A low testosterone level can lead to other symptoms such as depression, less desire for sex, as well as a lack of strength and endurance.
Neurological disorders such as multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease or pelvic surgery may also cause a sustained erectile dysfunction by damaging the signaling of nerve tracts.
What are the most common physical causes of impotence?
Impotence is often the symptom of a more serious health problem, such as arteriosclerosis (eg blood vessel disease due to a high cholesterol level or unhealthy diet). Likewise, diabetes and hypertension are further causes of erectile dysfunction.
There are many different physical causes that can lead to impotence. There may also be several causes together, so all risk factors should be considered. Certain causes are riskier and therefore more likely to promote impotence than other causes. In our list, we give an overview of individual risk factors and the probabilities with which they can lead to erectile dysfunction.
|Injuries & Nerve Diseases||11%|
|Operations on the pelvis||10%|
|Side effects of drugs||8th %|
|Smoking & alcohol||7%|
What is my risk of getting erectile dysfunction?
The exact risk of erectile dysfunction cannot be determined. It is certain that older men are more frequently affected by erectile dysfunction due to the generally poorer vascular condition in old age and the more frequent pre-existing conditions. However, if you eat healthy food regularly, exercise regularly, abstain from smoking and too much alcohol, and adequately treat any hypertension that may be present, this minimizes your risk of suffering from erectile dysfunction in the future.
It is important to know that even men without erectile dysfunction have erection problems from time to time. Reasons can be eg fatigue or heavy alcohol consumption. After sufficient rest, the penis rebuilds satisfactorily, so that in the cases described no treatment of erection problems is necessary.
How to distinguish between psychological and physical causes of erectile dysfunction?
In addition to physical causes, mental factors can also cause erectile dysfunction. If there are any doubts as to whether physical causes of the erectile dysfunction exist, a simple test can often be groundbreaking in the differentiation between mental and physical causes of erectile dysfunction.
The doctor will ask you to put a small ring of paper around your penis before bedtime. During the night sleep, erections of the penis occur in healthy men during sleep. The paper ring will tear during an erection because the penis diameter during erection is much larger than in the relaxed state. In this way, it can be tested whether – even without therapy – purely physically an erection is possible.
Another indication of mental causes of erectile dysfunction is the information about the masturbation of the person concerned. If a hard erection is achieved in masturbation, but not for sexual intercourse, this suggests a mental cause. However, one should not forget that physical and psychological factors are often interrelated and mutually influential, so that disruptive therapy should always include the physical and emotional.
What are psychological causes responsible for erectile dysfunction?
Mental problems are often the cause of erectile dysfunction in young men. The following psychological problems may be noted:
- pressure to perform
- low self-esteem
- Problems in the partnership
- Dream experiences in the past
When should erectile dysfunction be treated?
If erectile dysfunction persists for an extended period, a doctor should be consulted. Many sufferers are reluctant to talk about this embarrassing subject – treating erectile dysfunction effectively and may be a harbinger of more serious illnesses such as a heart attack.
What can the doctor do?
If you decide to seek medical advice, the doctor will first try to find out the causes of your erectile dysfunction. To do so, he must first determine the severity of your erectile dysfunction. It is important that you answer all questions truthfully so that the correct diagnosis can be made.
In the second step, physical causes for your potency problems should be excluded. You will be asked questions about certain conditions such as diabetes or the use of medication. Your blood pressure is also measured.
Afterwards, the doctor will suggest you a treatment option.